Academic Research Interests:
  • Dialogical Social(ly Engaged) Arts Practice in environments of communication barriers, discrimination and disability.
  • Participation “otherwise”: sharing power and balancing power structures within social arts practice
  • The shape-shifting role of the artist in contemporary participatory practices
Research Project – presentation at ADMA, Sint Lucas School of Art, KdG, Antwerp 2020

Rather Raw but Turning Softer (2020)

Online presentation PDF: ADMA Presentation – Tunde Toth

Commoning Methodologies and Modes of Collectivity in Dialogical Social Arts Practice

This research investigates commoning methodologies developed by artists working in collaborative, co-operative, conversational social arts practices – exploring case studies in Ireland.

I consider my own practice – that consists of long term, dialogical, collaborative art projects – as a starting point for an empirical research into how artists build partnerships and autonomous, cooperating environments based on trust and shared values, while working with participants and communities.

Many artists working in social(ly engaged) arts practice, together with their collaborators, develop unique ways of social cooperation and partnerships. Some of these projects start as grass root structures, operating without any funding from governmental or commercial sources, maintaining their independence from political and economic systems. As equal partners in these projects, collaborators create autonomous methods of working centered on shared aims and values.  Mutuality and reciprocity are essential for  these inclusive artistic processes where all or most elements and stages of a project are co-created, and authorship and ownership of events and artistic outcomes are shared.

My research is centered on commoners and commoning in the context of durational projects addressing discrimination, social injustice and the environmental/climate crisis.

While social collaboration and cooperation is created to various degrees in social arts practices, I believe that those practitioners who choose commoning working processes and forge social partnerships based on shared values, vision, mutuality, co-ownership and co-authorship, create a different, more equal map of connections.

I have started the process of initiating the start of Y Commons: a collective of artists, educators and therapists with varied backgrounds and expertise – sharing common concerns about the environmental and ecological crises and environmental, social injustice. We work in holistic ways, share interests in learning from each-others experiences and exploring possible forms of collective action. Eight of us began our process in June 2020, through conversation, gathering and learning how to share and how to be together during times of physical distancing and social restrictions under the current Covid19 pandemic.

The research methodologies have been interrupted and significantly altered during the current pandemic. Projects and research processes were put on hold and research questions had to be reconsidered. My participatory, inclusive research method that is built on dialogue and exchange, had new, pressing questions emerging: how can we work together when we can not be together? The new attempts at re-connecting with people are Distanced Dialogues: mainly digital connections, written exchanges, sharing of archives. How long can online and remote connections be maintained meaningfully for long term, durational projects?

How will my dialogical practice be shaped by the pandemic? What are the hopes for socially engaged practices and collective artistic research for post-pandemic times?

Conversation and Dialogue as Relational Research Practice:

My research process is dialogical, built on conversation and exchange with the aim to learn and listen to experiences of others. This manifests through visits to commoning artists, ongoing social art projects and building connections with arts organizations. 

Forms of engagement with case studies include recorded conversations and interviews with artists, project partners, participants, collaborators. For each case study the relevant questions are considered and chosen carefully. These exchanges are based on the research questions stated above – while understanding that not all questions are (equally) important or relevant for the specific conditions of each project. These discussions are often reflective or retrospective of recent or past experiences and will build an archive of conversations.

The research process is immersive and situated within arts practices and projects. Participatory and action research methods are inherent in the initiation of Y Commons.

Documentation, Writing and Critical Reflection:

Relevant ethical questions are discussed and considered, and conditions are created accordingly. Contributors and participants are consulted about appropriate forms of recording and documenting, including the possibilities of collective, cooperative forms of documentation.

Sharing and Communicating Research:

Throughout my working process I consider what, when and how to share, this is discussed and decided collaboratively with people involved. Unique experiences and specific documentation of case studies may be shared in different ways.

I envisage the future output(s) and outcome(s) of this research to be a series of small public events, interactive presentations, publications, and dissemination of outcomes through online platforms.  A co-created website/blog is planned for accessible content as a documentation platform and research archive.

Copyright © 2020 Tunde Toth, All rights reserved.