RASL Research Statement
ART, CULTURE AND SOCIETY IN THE GLOBAL CITY
The Rotterdam Arts & Sciences Lab (RASL) is a joint research centre established by Erasmus University, Codarts Rotterdam and the Willem de Kooning Academy. Founded in 2016, it offers a double degree, fosters innovative research and promotes new teaching methods.
Embedded in the culturally rich city of Rotterdam, RASL brings together knowledge, expertise and practices from all three institutions. Its research aim is to critically examine and reflect upon current transformations in arts and culture which are the result of changing political, social, economic and technological conditions. These shifts have reshaped traditional disciplinary divides, blurring distinctions between high and popular culture, and the professional versus the amateur. New forms of authorship, collaboration and public participation have emerged, as well as greater cultural diversity and numerous possibilities for expanding the commons.
RASL research examines the relationship between the arts and society in a transdisciplinary way. Now more than ever cross- and multidisciplinary approaches are crucial to addressing contemporary challenges; there is a need to capitalize on and synthesize different fields of expertise. RASL therefore offers a unique opportunity for joint research and is a means of developing shared vocabularies, visionary approaches and contexts for the arts to flourish, in addition to establishing an arts research network. Operating on a local, national and international level, RASL works from the understanding that the arts are vital to society and can play a constructively transformative role in shaping the future.
However, at the same time, these conditions have also presented significant challenges such as the precarity of creative labour, the sustainability of the arts in response to market forces, the vulnerability of the humanities and arts within today’s systems of measurability, and how the arts might become more inclusive, not only in terms of audience outreach but also through the education of the next generation of artists.
Research under the auspices of RASL therefore aims to reflect on the rapidly changing cultural environment by joint research projects, which involve contributions from at least two member institutions. In doing so, RASL acts as a catalyst for innovative research that blends academic and artistic research or theory-driven and practice-based research pertaining to the arts, culture and society.