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Symposia & Colloquia

ARA organises conferences and symposiums that bring together the interwoven possibilities emerging from the relationships between artistic research and pedagogy. We foreground the asking of questions, as well as sharing ideas and critique through recognising that artistic research, with its emphasis on embodied knowledge and new forms of subjectivity, represents multiple challenges for traditional academic hierarchies.

Creative Work PhD Colloquium

ARA hosted its first online Creative Work PhD colloquium on 27 August 2021 to give 12 Creative Work PhD researchers in WSOA the opportunity to present their research to a panel of experienced local and international supervisors and artistic researchers for analysis and discussion. These discussions benefitted participating PhD students and contributed to a picture of what artistic/practice-led research is emerging from the PhD work in the School.

Symposium on pedagogy

Another Roadmap Africa Cluster/ ARAC Symposium on Arts/Education in Africa, Johannesburg was held at Wits University from 10 - 18 February 2020. This symposium was used as an opportunity to arrange a cluster meeting to which representatives of the Lagos and Kinshasa working group were invited. The ARAC symposium highlighted the relevance of the historical knowledge of art education; the antecedents of oppositional, anti-imperial and decolonial impulses practiced by art collectives; the spiritual merit and pedagogical value of dance, forms, images, movements and sounds located across the Africas and their diasporas; and the solidarities between alternative pedagogies emerging through South to South alliances among the Africas, Latin Americas and First Nation North Americas.

ARA2020 Conference

A major international conference successfully took place from 22 – 24 January 2020 at the Wits Sports Conference Centre, Sturrock Park.  With the theme, “How does artistic research decolonise knowledge and practice in Africa”, the conference brought leading South African, African, and international thinkers and practitioners to engage with this question.  The keynote speakers were Prof Berhanu Ashagrie Deribew, from the Alle School of Fine Arts and Design at Abbis Ababa University, Ethiopia; and Dr Michael Schwab, the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal for Artistic Research (JAR).

The 11th and 13th Drama for Life International Conference

11th and 13th Drama for Life International Conference (Warren Nebe & Dr Petro Janse van Vuuren) – The 11th conference had a broad focus on critical situation, specifically to explore what role the arts can play in helping create a child-centred democratic society. The conference and festival sought to map developments in childhood research, and reflect on innovations in the performing arts, applied arts, arts therapies, arts education, and performance as research with particular reference to children and democratic societies. While the 13th Drama for Life conference focused on was on democracy, its principals and practice, as informed by a 4-year research and collaborative, exchange project with the Department of Arts and Media studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway, titled: Building Democracy Through Theatre In The Post-Democracy.

African Feminisms (Afems) Conference (Sharlene Khan)

The theme for the third Afems conference was dedicated to Nigerian Stiwanist Molara Ogundipe Leslie’s idea of the necessity for African feminists to “theorise from the epicentres of our agency”. The theme aimed at encouraging scholars, activists and creative practitioners to generate theories that respond to this centering, but also to challenge theory itself to respond to the practicalities of lived every day, intersectional lives and fluid, non-linear practices.

Showcase of Postgraduate Artistic Research

The goal of this event was to increase the visibility of all forms of artistic research amongst postgraduate in the School. 27 WSOA postgraduates presented their research using the PechKucha short-format form to a full-house audience in the Wits Downstairs Theatre.  R6000 in prize money was awarded to the 3 best presentations of the showcase.  Awards were presented for the best MA presentation, the best PhD presentation, and the best overall presentation.  

DHET Symposium

In 2018, the question of arts research in the South African university was challenged by changes in the government funding environment with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) introducing legislation to enable formal accreditation of artistic/creative work research from 2019. Approached by the Chair of the School’s Research Committee, the ARA project was asked to support a national symposium on the assessment of creative work for research accreditation.   The one-day symposium, held on 9th November 2018 at Wits, brought together 60 creative arts academics from 16 South African universities to discuss the modalities of assessing and accrediting artistic research.