Santiago, 10 th January 2018.

Dear members of the Society for Artistic Research,

It is my pleasure to accept your invitation to be a SAR Correspondent in Chile. I am willing to represent SAR in Chile and to be a link between artistic research practices and communities in Chile and SAR. In this letter I will provide general information about the situation of artistic research in Chile. Without any pretension of offering a complete view, I describe some projects, initiatives and organizations that to my view are crucial in developing or promoting research through the arts in Chile. Before that, I will characterize the local context in which these initiatives are taking place, particularly the transition from a conception of artistic research as an articulation of the creative process to a more decisive adherence to the conception of artistic practice as a research methodology.

In Chile artistic education in visual arts, theatre and music has traditionally been imparted by Universities. Therefore, there is an important legacy of art practitioners who have conceived of their artwork as a way of creating knowledge. Since the 90s, study programs in visual arts and theatre at the most important universities of the country have included research activities that imply not only the creation of artwork, but also a reflection about the generative practices artistic work involves. The Masters programs in visual arts (Universidad de Chile, Universidad Católica, Finis Terrae), theatre direction (Universidad de Chile), and arts (Universidad Católica) have adhered to this modality and they all require the delivery of an art work and a written document, generally involving critical reflection. In all these programs, what is retained as more valuable is the “art piece”, the “product of creation”, whereas the written document is mostly considered a complement that contextualizes the art. This way of understanding the relation between art practice and research has influenced generations of art practitioners expected to be creative but also to be able to think about their own process and put it in the context of historic and contemporary references.

This tradition was prevalent in Chile until the last decade, when gradually some artists/researchers went beyond the genetics of creation and embarked upon more risky projects that were not merely focused on art making but rather on developing research through the arts. These projects typically respond to questions through art practice, proceed on the basis of distinct methodological guidelines and produce multimodal outcomes that include artwork, papers, thesis, among others. This new tendency has been mostly developed in universities, mainly because these institutions provide the funding for high quality and long-term research. For instance, an exemplary project at Universidad de Chile is “Emovere”, an interdisciplinary research about emotion that proposes an interactive device for dance, visual arts and sound ( Also in Universidad Austral the project “Soundlapse” investigates how art may rescue the patrimony of the wetlands of Valdivia in Chile, seriously threatened by urban growth (

At the moment, the only academic program that directly and explicitly works with the methodology of practice as research is the PhD in Arts that I currently have the pleasure to direct at Universidad Católica. This is the first and only PhD program in arts in Chile, and it has set an important precedent in Chile and Latin America for the validation of artistic research at a doctoral level.

Another relevant initiative for the field of artistic research in Chile is the journal Panambi. Revista de Investigaciones Artísticas of Universidad de Valparaíso. Created in 2015, the journal has published mainly theoretical research about art, but it has also published some interesting articles on experiences of art practice as research

The incipient field of artistic research in Chile faces several challenges in the next few years. The first one, relates to the national legal frameworks for research and science that do not include artistic research as a possible form of generating knowledge. The Chilean parliament has recently approved the creation of a Ministry of Science and Technology, but in its foundational documents there’s almost no reference to the arts or the humanities. The Asociación de Investigadores en Artes y Humanidades is leading several political and media initiatives to advocate for the inclusion of a new ministry of the humanities and the arts ( this predominantly hostile landscape, it is urgent to further organize and to create systematic pursuits to legitimize artistic research.

Another important challenge for the field in Chile is to create a visible corpus of artistic research that may offer shared referents and repertoires. In order to legitimize the methodologies and the epistemologies of artistic research a strong corpus available to artists, researchers, scholars and general public should be constructed. This may be achieved both by establishing a strong network of practitioners and by improving the dissemination strategies of the current projects.

Finally, we should also engage more decisively with the publication of articles, papers or multimedia on artistic research. There is an incipient number of publications on the relation between creation and research in different artistic disciplines (see list below) but they are not enough to substantiate an academic subject area. We need to reflect on the epistemological, methodological and political issues that artistic research raises, taking into consideration our local context.

To summarize the situation in Chile, the field of artistic research is in a vibrant moment of transformation trying to understand the articulation of its legacies and its future challenges.

María José Contreras, Ph.D
Chair PhD Program in Arts
Faculty of the Arts
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

María José Contreras Lorenzini is a performance artist with a PhD in Semiotics. She is currently the Chair of the doctoral program in the arts at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Contreras studies and creatively explores the relation between the body, memory and performance. Her performance work has been shown in Chile, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, Canada and the United States. In 2013, in the context of the commemoration of the state coup in Chile, she performed #quererNOver, an urban intervention that involved 1,200 people lying in the streets of Santiago to commemorate the more than 1,200 detenidos desaparecidos. Some of her recent performances include “Suelo,” which took place in Plaza Italia in Santiago and addressed the relation between surveillance and human rights, and “Aquí,” which consisted of embodied marking of places where women were assassinated in the first months of the dictatorship. She has published several articles and book chapters on the complex relation between memory and the body.

Bibliography on the relation between artistic practice and research by Chilean authors

Castro, Diego. Deleuze’s Fold in the Performing Practice of Aaron Cassidy’s The Pleats of Matter. In Assis, P. & Giudici, P. The Dark Precursor: Deleuze and Artistic Research. Leuven, Leuven University Press, pp. 56-67, 2017.

Contreras, M.J. La práctica como investigación: nuevas metodologías para la academia latinoamericana. Poiésis Revista do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Estudos Contemporâneos das Artes Universidade Federal Fluminense, n. 21-22, 2013. Contreras, M.J & Ihle, C. La subasta patrimonial: construcción de valor en la ruina moderna a través de una intervención sitio específico. Revista 180, Santiago, N. 38. Jan. 2016. Contreras, M.J. La práctica artística en la formación de postgrado: Polémicas, transferencias y diálogos. En Múltiplos olhares sobre processos descoloniais nas artes cênicas, São Paulo, Paco editorial, (en prensa) Cussen, F. Correcciones: práctica artística como investigación como quien no quiere la cosa. Panambí. Revista de Investigaciones Artísticas, Valparaíso, [S.l.], p. 189-206, jan. 2017

Duarte, C. El proceso de creación teatral: Primeras Aproximaciones. Revista Teatro/CELCIT, Buenos Aires, n. 37-38, p. 115-125, 2010.

Grass, M. La investigación de los procesos teatrales: Manual de uso. Santiago, Frontera Sur, 2011.

Vera, A. Arte y conocimiento: algunas reflexiones desde la perspectiva del postgrado. Revista Cátedra de Artes, Facultad de Artes Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, n.8, p. 9-28, 2010.

Villegas, I. Práctica artística como investigación: su instalación y desarrollo en el sistema académico chileno. Tercio Creciente. Revista de Estudios en Sociedad, Artes y Gestión Cultural. N. 13, Jan. 2018. Silva, M. I. & Vera, A. Capítulo 1. Práctica Artística e Investigación en Silva, M. I. & Vera, A. (editores) Proyectos en arte y cultura. Criterios y estrategias para su formulación. Santiago: Ediciones UC, 2010, p. 13-44.

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