Venetian Blind – A New Model for PhD Research in the Creative Arts

Australian Council of University Art & Design School
David Cross
Cameron Bishop

The role of the university in building professional development opportunities for creative arts HDR candidates has changed in recent times. Where the notion of academic research in our discipline has largely seen the annexing of a thesis from the idea of industry application, universities are being increasingly encouraged to link research with ‘career’ opportunity. This paper will examine as a case study, a recent research project developed by Deakin’s Public Art Commission that sought to connect researchers and HDR candidates in the making of a large-scale project in conjunction with the Venice Biennale. Titled ‘Venetian Blind’, this exhibition/ public art work featured 16 researchers and 7 HDR candidates who were each invited to make a site-based, or performative intervention, into the city of Venice responding to a bespoke provocation developed by the curators. Working in small teams that included both academics and PhD candidates, the project (which is still in train) is taking place over six months (one per month). The artists encounter the provocations ‘blind’ so to speak, with no prior warning of what they are being asked to. The curatorial frame prefaces in situ site analysis and research while highlighting the possibilities of both HDR and academic researchers working collectively to develop new understandings of Venice, its features and history.