Thinking through Practice seminar series: Lecture by Magnus Bärtås

17.10.2017 - 10:00 to 13:00
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BFA 1st year
BFA 2nd year
BFA 3rd year
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MFA 2nd year

Magnus Bärtås is an artist, writer and professor of fine art at Konstfack in Stockholm. His video essay Madame & Little Boy won the grand prize at Oberhausen International Short Film Festival 2010. His dissertation in artistic research You Told Me – Work stories and video essays, examining narrative models in contemporary art and the practice of the video essay, was published in May 2010. Together with Fredrik Ekman he has published three books of essays. Their latest book Alla monster måste dö (2011) was nominated to the Swedish national August prize. Recent exhibitions include “A Postcard from Afar”, apexart, New York, “Bogey”, Miroslav Kraljevic Gallery, Zagreb (together with Lars-Henrik Ståhl), Rencontres Internationales, Palais de Tokyo, Paris and The 9th Gwangju Biennale, 2012.

Magnus Bärtås speaks about some of his core themes in his dissertation in artistic research, You Told Me – Work stories and Video Essays (Gothenburg University 2010) and the ongoing project Microhistories. This practice-based dissertation investigates possibilities of an essayistic/literary language that can convey or establish a level of transparency in relation to an individual artist’s experiences of the artistic process from within the practice. By discussing storytelling, historiography, and biographical accounts, together with examples from conceptual art, the dissertation shows how work stories often are crucial for the interpretation of an art work, and how the very temporality of work stories brings questions about the role and function of narratives in art – their meaning-making functions, their strategies, ethics and their possibilities of establishing situations for collegial and social co-existence.


THINKING THROUGH PRACTICE is a seminar series at Trondheim Academy of Fine Art around the question of what constitutes an artistic research, or research through art. Every practice concerns a mode of thought (Massumi, 2014), however a mode of thinking defined by the singularity of each research-creation. The development of each artistic investigation is an individual – and perhaps non-replicable – process-oriented way of working, which involves a distinct, and hybrid assemblage of methodologies and critical tools for thinking through making. It is a push-and-pull, give-and-take activity of creating, articulating, revising, reflecting, and sharing. (Hannula, 2013) Scribbles, sketches, drawings, failed work, models, studies, thoughts, and conversations – as proposed by Sol LeWitt's list – while common attributes related to artistic activity can also be useful tools for placing a work within a context, by providing insight and a roadmap to the artist’s intentions, reasons, and processes. (Bärtås, 2013)

Yet much of the research coming out of an artistic practice challenges the language of research and its expectations implied by such a term. A question arises: How can art, as a tool for thinking with, be used to generate new knowledge, while at the same time not promising easily predictable and quantifiable results?

Rather than abridge or simplify, the THINKING THROUGH PRACTICE seminar series shifts towards complexity. Through the introduction of critical and innovative approaches to artistic research, the seminar series looks at art as a thinking, theorizing process.

The Thinking through Practice seminar series is conceived and organized by Associate Professor Michelle Teran.

Unless stated, each seminar takes place at Kunstarken, from 10:00-13:00.


FRANS JACOBI (Copenhagen and Bergen): Synsmaskinen
Tuesday, September 26th

MAGNUS BÄRTÅS (Stockholm): Microhistories and Work Stories
Tuesday, October 17th

STACEY SACKS (Stockholm): Performing whiteness // animating complexity.
Tuesday, October 31st

Guest Lecturer (TBD)
Tuesday November 28th

Image Credit: Magnus Bärtås, The Strangest Stranger

Postal address:
Kunstakademiet i Trondheim
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
N-7491 Trondheim

Visiting address:
Innherredsveien 7 (Industribygget)

Contact form
adm [at]
Tel. +47 73 59 79 00
Fax. +47 73 59 79 20