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!

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Raisa Foster
Raisa Foster

Dr. Raisa Foster (b. 1976) is an independent researcher/artist/educator. She completed her PhD in 2012 at the University of Tampere, Finland. She graduated as a dance animateur from School of Dance, Victorian College of the Arts (University of Melbourne) in 2006, and as a Master of Arts (visual culture) from Aalto University in 2015. Foster is experienced in directing and producing multi-discipline performances. Foster is mostly known from her artistic works with young men, Katiska (2008), Ketjureaktio (2012) and Rikka (2014). She has created her own artistic/pedagogical method Tanssi-innostaminen®, a pedagogical method The Pedagogy of Recognition as well as an arts-based research method eragraphy. Foster is currently interested in combining different artistic and more traditional qualitative research methods in her practice as an artist/researcher/educator and establishing her unique approach to performance art.

All stories by: Raisa Foster
Raisa Foster