Forum Artistic Research

Piece + Talk

The Witness Openlab – Worlding Through Socially Engaged Art Practice in Basel. Deep Listening Practices as Open Paths to Collaboration and Community-Building in an Academic Learning Environment

Iulia-Andreea Smeu, Isabelle Meraner

on  Fri, 10:00in  Neuer Saalfor  30min

“The Witness Openlab Project” took place during the Fall Semester of 2023, representing the final test phase for a newly created MA Music and Scene in Transformation, starting 2024/2025 at the Hochschule für Musik Basel, FHNW. Led by director/curator Julie Beauvais and part of the transdisciplinary project “The Witness”, the Openlab offered us, as students or young artists, the opportunity to extend our practice into the field of artistic research and to engage fully on both an embodied and a spiritual level with the communities that we are part of. Based on Pauline Oliveros’ score ‘The Witness’, three strategies of listening are used as guiding principles to create an all-round awareness and sensitivity, as well as a critical tool to reframe our relationship to the environment. Through our daily practice entailing body work, embodied dramaturgy and deep listening practice, we learned how to create open architectures by negotiating interchangeable roles and establish mutual awareness, granting each other autonomy, while keeping closely connected and focused on common aims. Thus, we built a strong foundation for the emergence of new collaborative works, relevant for the communities that we looked into and to which we, ourselves, are part of. Both projects that stemmed from the Openlab approached “togetherness” as the core of their research, providing insights into two forms of cohabitation and “stranger-ness”: human-human / human-other-than-human. Our documentation consisted of videos, field recordings, interviews, performances/improvisations, animations, poetry. The end of the project was marked by a public event, where we had to find ways in which to present our work process. Through the Witness Openlab most participants, young artists and students rooted in performative practices, were introduced to artistic research. There are many questions that arose during the process of working together that we would like to open for discussion during the Forum Artistic Research, such as: How does the negotiation of collaborative ways of working influence artistic outcome? How can the practice of community building (considered phenomenologically between artist-researchers, but also between artists and the focus of their research) be translated, as to become an equally enriching experience for an audience? Does the audience even need to be aware of our collaborative practice?

 Overview  Program