— Cultural Sources of Newness

Seeking partners for HERA Cultural Encounters project

The proposal that Anke Strauß (University of Essex) and I submitted last year to the HERA joint research program on “Cultural Encounters” for the conference in Berlin was accepted! Now we need to get to work, and the first step is to find new research partners in the European countries that participate in HERA . The theme we have chosen for this project is  “Artistic Interventions as Cross-Cultural Encounters: Negotiating Identity Maintenance and Change.” 

One of the functions of art in society is to deliberately draw attention to the specific rules of the cultural system art presents itself in. Organizations have become a dominant form in contemporary societal life, so it is probably not surprising that some artists have discovered them as physical and human spaces in which to create new forms of art. Some also seek to influence society by engaging with organizations and their employees. For their part, managers have started discovering artists as partners for developing new ways of seeing and doing things specifically in their organization. For example, they invite artists to work with employees to develop their creativity, leadership and communication skills, and also to stimulate organizational change and innovation. The intention is to learn both by discovering synergies between the cultural differences in their worlds as well as from the friction in the encounter.
We conceive of artistic intervention projects as specific forms of cross-cultural encounters, because artists often speak of entering a foreign world, with its own rules, codes, languages and history. Employees, too, speak of the difficulties and rewards that come from grappling with the very different ways of seeing and doing things that artists bring into their organization. These cultural encounters between the world of the arts and the world of organizations, like other kinds of cross-cultural encounters, have the potential to create new knowledge by making people become aware and reflect upon their own ways of seeing and doing things. Cultural encounters with the arts can go beyond other kinds of cross-cultural encounters by stimulating the imagination to envisage new possibilities not (yet) conceived of in the given context and by developing the skills to act upon the new possibilities.
Having conducted research on a wide range of different kinds of cultural encounters between people from the world of organizations and the world of the arts in several European countries, a cross-cultural perspective leads us to hypothesize that identity and its formation are decisive aspects of this relationship – for the artists and for the employees, individually and collectively.
We are therefore particularly interested in exploring how participating in artistic interventions influences identity and identity-creation of employees and artists involved and how identity and identity-creation of the participants in turn influence the cultural encounter between artists and organization members. One of the interesting developments we have observed in the field is the emergence of intermediaries who build bridges connecting the world of the arts and the world of organizations and we wonder what their roles are in negotiating identity maintenance or change in the cultural encounters between artists and members of organizations.
Target Partners: Artists and scholars (especially from the humanities) interested in cross-cultural encounters and/or identity in organisational processes.
Countries: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Croatia, Ireland, Iceland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia and United Kingdom