Producing Knowledge in Self-Organized Artistic Settings through Performative Research and Artistic Intervention


  • Hanne Seitz



The following article presents the Young Tenants, a project that gave young Berlin adults the opportunity to use vacant spaces for art and culture­related purposes. Through organizing and participating in activities in these spaces they discovered their artistic creativity and craftsmanship, practiced cultural participation and engaged with the community. In contrast to what they typically experienced in school or in out-of-school education, the project emphasized self­organization and an environmental approach towards learning. The accompanying research called for a different logic of enquiry than in the usual discursive mode of qualitative social research. The tenants were regarded as co­researchers, capable of finding creative solutions for the problems that arose while working towards the goals they had set for themselves. They produced knowledge through their art making, which was expanded, transformed and renewed through a practice-based action research process. At the same time, since understanding is not always reducible to language, we focused on their actions as expressions of embedded knowledge and considered the project to be a practice-led performative research. Additionally, we unlocked further potential though artistic interventions that served to enrich their activities, deepen reflection, and challenge the knowledge generated.