Still life image of the bookHAUT-Artistic-Development

Visual Arts

On the notion of HAUT – Artistic Development.

A review of the recent book by one of Copenhagen’s most ambitious independent artist organisations.

by J. Scott Stratton

read the book

Whether you are an artist, or an admirer of the arts, the notion of artistic development is a somewhat ephemeral subject—only because it attempts to define in a broad sense, that which subject to the individual. In other words, every artist is different; therefore, should not the definition of artist development should be different in every case?

One would think that the answer to this is an obvious “yes.” However, one need look no farther than art’s history to see the rigid processes and definitions of what is deemed “artistic development.”

This questioning of conventional definitions of the term is at the heart of what
HAUT- Artistic Development aims to accomplish.

Expanding the definition of artistic development

Even with my limited understanding of the organisation, it seems that HAUT is focused on educating artists to question how their work develops in contrast to current artistic industry conventions. As stated in the book, “even though the word development can be understood as something progressing and moving forward towards a finished artistic project, it is not solely the finished project that HAUT is aiming for when we talk about artistic development.”

Still life image of the bookHAUT-Artistic-Development

HAUT – Artistic Development: Work in progress sharing of Skin Tonic & Woven Wounds by choreographers Camilla Lind and Amalie Bergstein – 2019

I find myself drawn to this further exploration of the terminology. However, I feel that it is necessary to point out that HAUT focuses mainly on performance, where “artworks” are not constrained by fixed results and can exist in a state of flux. That is not to say that the same ideal of artistic development cannot be a challenge within the framework of visual arts. However, the body as an object in constant motion lends itself better to being a medium that can create artworks that stay within a perpetually unfinished state.

Essays and argumentation

HAUT – Artistic Development is not a cover to cover argumentation written by the organisation. It is a collection of essays and examples from artists, educators and academics that have explored this expanded notion of artistic development from their own perspectives.

Early in the book, one of these arguments that resonated with me came from Storm Møller Madsen, PhD fellow at University of Copenhagen’s Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, entitled Reflections on Curating for Artistic Development in Performing arts. Within the essay, they introduced the idea that “curating for artistic development is the task to stay with the trouble of the work.”

The idea of “staying within the trouble,” or as I interprete it “learning to accept when ideas or processes fail” is something that is not only relevant for not only artistic but personal development.

In yet another entry in the book, in the context of an interview with artists Jules Fischer, Kai Merke, and Paolo de Venecia Gile during a residency in HAUT, serves to iterate further the point of working within the trouble. In the interview, Jules Fischer describes the artist development in VANITAS (the work in question):

“We had to figure out how to make a bodily vocabulary for all the mythologies, symbols, words and concepts we had gathered. To me, development is understanding what we are working with on all levels: image body, time and sound.”

Paolo also responded, “Artistic development is not about creating knowledge…To me, artistic development is about a broadening of perspectives.”

Still life image of the bookHAUT-Artistic-Development

HAUT – Artistic Development: Work in progress sharing of Just OK by the dancers and choreographers Anna Lea Oure and Amalia Kasakove – Y Choreography 2019

There is further reinforcement of this in the essay Windows for change, windows for feeling by Merel Heering, as presented in the book. She writes in the context of dramaturgy, but I feel it has an involuntary connection to the comment by Paolo de Venecia Gile. She talks about delaying the urge to reach conclusions, “before really considering how you got there.”

In short, while the context for much of the collected work within the book is quite different, to my eyes, there is a common theme connecting them. Artistic development is about residing within the now, and view the future as a singular lighthouse (or outcome), but rather an ocean of possibilities.

Structure & Design

Due to the fact that the book is a collection of writings, rather than hard prose, the presentation of the work does not enforce linearity.

There is also a visual satisfying graphical quality to the design of the book. The presentation of photo and text is more reminiscent of something you might from Tate or Phaidon.

All in all, there is more than just a pleasant reading experience while flipping through the pages of HAUT – Artistic Development. As I said at the start of this article, whether you are an artist or admirer of the arts, this book starts you down a path of inquiry into the concept of artistic development. More specifically, it begs the question of where the line should be drawn between artistic development and artistic output, or whether there should even be one to begin with.

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Ingrid Tranum Velásquez expresses Tekeraoi am Mananga!

Ingrid Tranum Velásquez expresses Tekeraoi am Mananga!

Ingrid: I want the audience to engage in the piece physically—to add their movement, exhaustion, and progression to the work. I think when you have to understand issues that are very difficult to comprehend or cope with, movement can bring you closer to the matter....