Professor Iris van der Tuin will speak at Uniarts Helsinki’s Theatre Academy on March 20.

Iris van der Tuin: Interdisciplinarians can learn from artistic researchers

Uniarts Helsinki interviewed professor Iris van der Tuin, who will be a visiting keynote speaker at Research Day IV: Performance and Feminism on March 20.

Your lecture at the research day: Performance and Feminism will be about the topic “Doing in feminist research in the algorithmic condition”. Could you tell a bit more about that.

I will be talking about our current “algorithmic condition”[1] with which I mean to indicate our screen media and ICT saturated times. This condition also impacts our scholarship: we are constantly online and feeding platforms such as Google with our interests thus leaving traces that have an impact on what we may find when using the platforms for academic purposes. I want to read this phenomenon critically and creatively, thus researching the disturbing and the beneficial aspects of doing feminist research algorithmically.

In your research, what are your current areas of interest?

I am interested in finding extraordinary sources online (for example rare books written by women of the past and for the future), in “diffractive readings”[2] that combine sources in such a way as to traverse their canonical interpretations for new conceptualizations, in interdisciplinary movements in thought and action, … I like to see myself and my research subjects as “Thumbelina’s,” as Michel Serres[3] would say. We live in e-libraries that are constantly in motion. Our archive is a dynarchive[4].

Your background is in the liberal arts and sciences and you’re an interdisciplinarian. Do you have any thoughts about artistic research and the artistic approach to feminist research?

Artistic research treats objects as agents while they are still being made. I think this treatment may yield a very interesting “process epistemology” (my term). Interdisciplinarians are also trained to work processually, so there is a lot that the more traditionally trained, academic interdisciplinarians can learn from artistic researchers. I hope to find out if artistic researchers are interested in learning from interdisciplinarians, too. Besides this, I have written about artistic research from the perspective of “new materialism”[5] and I once organized a seminar on the possible relations between action research and artistic research with keynote speakers Barbara Bolt and Gloria Wekker.

In your view what are the most topical issues in feminism right now? Conversely, are there some areas or topics in feminism that are less talked/researched about, but should get more attention?

As a feminist, I am interested in bibliographies, archives and other infrastructures. Infrastructures are invisible, and making them visible is a feminist act.

Professor Iris van der Tuin will speak at Uniarts Helsinki’s Theatre Academy on March 20. The event Research Day IV: Performance and Feminism is part of the research project How to Do Things with Performance. Registration to the event is open until 17 March.


[1] Colman et al. 2018

[2] Barad 2003, 2007; van der Tuin 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017

[3] [2012] 2015

[4] Ernst 2014

[5] Dolphijn and Van der Tuin 2012