What is Black Mountain Research?

Black Mountain Research is a collaborative interdisciplinary and inter-institutional project between Freie Universität Berlin and Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin. As a continuous and performative work-in-progress, we negotiate both Black Mountain College’s historical importance and its potential as a model for contemporary creative, educational and community practice. We thus use Black Mountain Research as an experimental forum, in which students, scholars, researchers, artists and curators from different institutions and participating projects are working, writing, archiving and exchanging ideas collaboratively.

Black Mountain Research engages in general questions regarding education and knowledge production between the arts, humanities and museums, such as: How do research and education influence our experience of art and how do they influence the production of art? How are these processes connected with each other and how can we explore them? Which historical, educational models could be productive today and how could they change curatorial practices and the making of art and exhibitions? What are the possibilities and limits of research-based exhibitions? On what level does and will new media and the digital turn influence collective knowledge production?

Tied in with the interdisciplinary and experimental approach of production and education that Black Mountain College was known for, Black Mountain Research is closely aligned to the concept of agencement, which was originally coined by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Connecting agency and arrangement in research is a key practice, specifically emphasised through our collaborative, digital platform. Displaced from the conventional realm of popular use and re-appropriated as a time-based practice tool for research, it is a laboratory for exchange, connection and display of opinions, materials and discourses related to Black Mountain College. Our platform reconnects the analogue and the digital, by seeking to establish a shared believe in something we call: mole tactics. Mole tactics affirm productive complications of approaching the subject from multiple directions and creating passageways through unfamiliar connections and paths of exchange.

Black Mountain Research is a journey interweaving art and research, knowledge production and education; curatorial expertise; exhibition practice and the performing of an archive; the real and the virtual; the historic and the contemporary; an encounter between transforming images and texts, objects and subjects. As such, it offers explorations, participatory entanglements, and agency in the institutional realm, as well as a potential for imagination and contemplation – towards a performative research, an establishment of time and patience, and a collective culture of sharing art as an experience and as knowledge in society.

by Annette Jael Lehmann, Professor for Visual Cultures at Freie Universität Berlin
and Director of Black Mountain Research