Minding the Gap

To begin generating ideas for a suitable research question, I have been referring to the “Minding the Gap” section of the Week 2 / Research Resources page of the course blog, which offers advice on finding a “gap in knowledge” (defined as “something that has not yet been adequately addressed in existing knowledge”), and offers some key questions for the researcher to answer. I have made some initial notes on each of these questions below, to provide an outline of my ideas at this early stage of the project.

What gaps are there in what’s currently known/currently practiced about the area you are thinking of? (Do some preliminary research to find out more).

The “gap in knowledge” I wish to explore in my project exists adjacent to, yet outside of, the study of both “work” and “site” in the contemporary art theory/practice context. Much of the knowledge / study associated with “artistic work” and “sites” appears to focus primarily on Marxist analyses of “labour” and conventional notions of “the studio” (or “post-studio”) respectively, whereas there is very little research that addresses the “everyday” challenges of the non-professional, early-career or otherwise “minor” artist working from home, often alongside family, and in improvised or otherwise involuntarily post-studio “sites”.

Put more simply, I am interested in researching the ways in which “minor” artists navigate the difficulties of making work: the strategies and routines they employ, and the spaces that they occupy. With this in mind, I intend to begin my research by mapping contemporary theories of “work” and “site”, toward building a clearer picture of the “gap” I wish to explore in my project.

Are these gaps in knowledge worth ‘filling’? (You need to be able to say ‘yes’ to this with honesty. If they aren’t worth filling, do not fill them).

I think that this is a gap in knowledge worth “filling”, as exploring this under-researched area of contemporary art theory/practice could help to build a clearer picture of the challenges faced by “minor” artists, and potentially offer a range of strategies for addressing some of those challenges.

More specifically, my initial ideas for the project involve developing some kind of platform or residency program designed to address one or more issues faced by “minor” artists – for example, the relative inaccessibility of long-term residencies to artists with jobs or family responsibilities could be addressed by the provision of fully funded, one-day “micro-residences” aimed specifically at artists who would otherwise not have the means or availability to take part in longer-term residency projects.

What makes the gaps important? (Moreover, who or what are they important to?)

Filling these gaps in knowledge is important on both a theoretical and practical level. Conducting research into these unseen aspects of artistic “work” and “site” would help to get a clearer picture of how and why art is made by the vast majority of aspiring or otherwise “minor” artists; this in turn would allow us to develop a clearer picture of the art world(s) as a whole and how it operates, which would then bring opportunities for positive developments and a fairer distribution of opportunities.

Next Steps

Following this brief outline of my “gap in knowledge”, I will take the following steps to begin developing my research question and research design:

  1. Begin researching the topics of “artistic work”, “practice”, “site” and “the studio”, toward producing a detailed map of the field;
  2. Use the map to identify in more detail the main gaps in knowledge or areas not adequately addressed by current study;
  3. Generate a range of possible research questions and methodologies based on the gaps identified above.

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