Personal Reflections on 4th Conference on Arts-Based and Artistic Research

On June 28-30 we spent three fruitful days in Helsinki at Aalto University, giving our talks, seeing some interesting presentations, participating in great conversations and enjoying the atmosphere. The organizers had done a marvelous job in putting the conference together, and they still did a great job in keeping it all together! There were practically no technical problems, delays or whatsoever issues.

I managed to gain quite a good amount of comments and questions for my presentation (here’s the presentation text attached in .pdf). Most of those weren’t so much about what I presented (my arts-based research as a process) but about my research subject, Joseph Beuys’s social sculpture. As some of the comments/questions revealed I hadn’t been clear enough about some elementary issues of that, I thought I might as well reflect those here, also to clarify to myself what I should remember to mention or explicate whenever I talk about my research subject. read more


Call for Proposals (FERA) – Art-Based Educational Research

The annual Finnish Educational Research Association (FERA) Conference on Educational Research will be held this year November 19-20 at Åbo Akademi University in Vaasa. Art-Eco project organizes a paper session titled Art-based Educational Research and welcomes all kinds of methodological (visual, narrative, poetic, performative, musical) openings in the field of art-based research in the context of education. The presentations can be given in Finnish, Swedish or English. More information: Raisa Foster, Research Director, Art-Eco Project,

The description of the theme group in Finnish (pdf).

Generally, 20 minutes plus discussion is reserved for each presentation, but depending on the number of papers the presentation time may be adjusted. The conference program with the exact times and presentations for each session will be published on the conference web site towards the end of October. Note that there will be no conference proceeding.

Abstract submission guidelines

  • Abstracts should be written in the language of presentation (Finnish, Swedish or English).
  • State the theme group that the presentation will be submitted to.
  • Title of presentation (Times New Roman 14 p bold font).
  • Author(s) with contact details and affiliation (Times New Roman 12 p).
  • The abstract text body is limited to 200 words (Times New Roman 12 p, line space 1) and should include the following: aims, theoretical and methodological framework; (expected) results and implications; scientific relevance.
  • Abstracts should be submitted in word format to, deadline October 1. Announcement of accepted submissions on October 9.

Introduction seminar: The possibilities of art in creating new (ethical and ecological) ways of being human

Today we had the opening seminar of our research project! Unfortunatelly the other researcher Jussi Mäkelä was sick and not able to participate, but we had an amazing group of eight dance animateurs, who will work as my co-researcher in this project, taking part of today’s seminar. We had a great – and very important – day together talking about the ontological, epistemological and methodological issues that we are dealing with in our project.

The main purpose of this seminar was to intoduce the whole research project for my co-researcher. The aim of our study is to investigate the artistic and pedagogical possibilities to support the holistic awareness of empathetic-ecological humanity.

We are asking:

1) How is the expanded concept of art connected to the concept of eco-citizenship?

2) How could we support the holistic awareness of empathetic-ecological humanity by using art-based pedagogies?

There are two reseachers working fully funded in this project. PhD candidate Jussi Mäkelä is a visual artist and an educator. His interest is in Joseph Beuys’ art and thinking. I am the project leader and my interesterests are in researching how dance animateuring can support the awareness of empathetic-ecological humanity. The dance animateurs (who have been studing with me last year and who graduated in December 2014) will collect/produce data from/in their own projects with very diverse groups (disabled, young, elderly people, women with eating disorders, …) Both of us, Mäkelä and I, have Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology as the theoretical background for our research.

Professor Veli-Matti Värri (University of Tampere) and professor Rebecca Martusewicz (Eastern Michigan University) are working as our mentors in the project. Martusewicz will work as a Fulbright Award scholar in Tampere, Finland, from August till December 2015. We also have an Australian collaborator, theatre director Bagryana Popov (Ph.D.) from La Trobe University, Melbourne, coming to Finland later in this year.

The researchers will produce both artistic outcomes as well as research papers during the research project. The reserchers will also edit a collection of peer-reviewed articals about eco-justice, eco-citizenship and empathetic-ecological  humanity into a book in the end of 2017. The discussion will be opened to a broader audience by publishing also a collection of practice-based descriptions from the dance animateurs. This blog also serves as a platform to a broader discussion. It is very important for us that the new understanding that our project will produce does not only stay inside an academia.

Today we also had a great pleasure to have a philosopher Vesa Jaaksi talking to us about the possibilities of art in creating a new (ethical and ecological) ways of being human. I will try to summarize his speech later for you. Follow our blog!

In the afternoon I presented my own art-based methodology, eragraphy, which we will use with the dance animateurs in this project. I will also write a blog post about the eragraphy later – stay tuned!

Thank you, the head of Tampere Art Education Association Jarmo Skön and Sanna Piitulainen from Taideverstas Wärjäämö for creating this event in collaboration with me!