PhD in practice
§2 (1) Context and Necessity: The PhD in Practice program at the Academy of Fine Arts is a postgraduate course of combined academic and artistic research. It provides the participants with an opportunity to realize their individual research projects within an environment that encourages all those involved to engage in intensive collaboration. One focal point of the program is the question of the intersections of art and knowledge and of the specific productivity of artistic methods and strategies in terms of the production and analysis of knowledge. These methods and strategies constitute the very practice contained in the title, which is conceived to be interwoven in multiple ways in social, cultural, political, and economic fields of action. It particularly applies to critical reflection on one’s own artistic practice, which can become both a method and a subject of research. The significance of knowledge as a factor of renewal is highly valued in societies and economies of the twenty-first century, and thus it is crucially important for fine artists to critically, reflexively, and actively adopt their own positions as producers, agents, designers, archivists, mediators, etc. of knowledge and to engage in a discourse on these positions. The program PhD in Practice at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna draws consequences from this necessity, which has previously seldom been addressed theoretically, and shifts the role of fine art in a “knowledge society” to becoming the focus of an internationally oriented research context. In this way, the conditions necessary for artistic knowledge to be produced themselves become the subject of fundamental combined academic and artistic research.
(2) Topics and Participants: In the doctoral studies program PhD in Practice those forms and practices of knowledge will be examined in particular which can be regarded as the result of artistic processes and the theme of artistic work. What is crucial for this conception of knowledge about art is the assumption that art can be understood as a space for social, political, cultural, and economic conflicts, in which claims to knowledge and truth can be equally asserted and criticized. Contemporary art is directly confronted with issues of localizing, accessing, and materializing reserves and forms of social knowledge. It is informed by critical epistemologies as they have been developed in recent times by feminist theories, gender and queer studies, postcolonial theories, and black and subaltern studies, among others. Artists (but also critics, curators, art historians, teachers, gallerists, and others active in the field of art) are increasingly proving to be specialists in dealing with different, often contradictory characteristics of knowledge and competence. They use aesthetic practices and discourses to reflect on and renew this highly charged juxtaposition of knowledge forms that are recognized and visible in society in different ways. For this reason, on the one hand it is important to grasp the specific emergence and figures in/of art, and on the other to explore the relationships between this artistic knowledge and other forms of knowledge.
(3) Practices and Perspectives: Within the framework of the course PhD in Practice, art/knowledge processes will thus be observed and actively shaped. The course enables the participants to reflect on and further develop their respective cultural, disciplinary, and professional experience in a new type of combined academic and artistic practice. Experimental modes of artistic production that traverse and reconfigure the established disciplines of knowledge are fostered, as well as the ability to write analytical theoretical texts and to conceive, organize, and carry out one's own research. Intensively linking artistic and academic forms of reflection and production qualifies the participants to research, produce, and communicate independently in a dynamic transdisciplinary space. The emphasis on transdisciplinarity is linked with the idea of a fundamental transformation of the art/knowledge relationship, which counters a dichotomous order of knowledge (theory/practice, science/art) and makes different dimensions of knowledge-producing practice available. The participants are expected to play an active role in shaping the course and its programs (organizing workshops, guest lectures, conferences, exhibitions, screenings, excursions, etc.). Participants are also expected to take part in international discussions, i.e. to publish on their projects and topics in relevant journals and present their work in exhibitions, at conferences, symposia, etc.