Doctoral School, Sheffield Hallam University, 2019

Questioning a Body of Material

Method conference 2019

This presentation takes the form of a performative reflection. It gestures toward the questioning of a body of research material gathered in response to my encounters with, and experiences in and of, a stroke rehabilitation day centre, in the context of an academic art research enquiry.  

In this reflexive enquiry, in which I explore the role of artist/researcher and art practice in elucidating unspoken tensions in organisational life, I emphasise processes of thinking with and learning through practices of making. The analysis is understood as a reflexive spiral, where thought is neither linear nor circular, but continuously moves away from – while simultaneously going over and building on – the same themes, albeit in different temporal and spatial dimensions. What is provoked and evoked through the shaping and re-shaping of a material situation, and the reflexive conversations that take place in response to it, becomes a way of trying to understand the complexity of the weave and its broader context, which is then reflected on and analysed by myself as artist/researcher through further re-shapings. These conversations – with the work of making, with myself, and with audiences in various organizational /institutional settings – enable me to understand what I am doing and what might be made manifest through the process.  

Through performing with and alongside the material I shift the relation between researcher and researched, challenging traditional conventions of presenting data and raising questions concerned with processes of analysis and meaning-making when this happens as part of, rather than separate from, the gathering of data. I speculate on what might be elucidated through material encounters with the research situation and consider the ethical dilemmas and questions concerning care for and of the body that are provoked and evoked through a confrontation with it.