As an artist-researcher, I am actively engaged in a practice-based contemporary art research through my PhD studies and extracurricular activities. The most compelling aspect of the practice-based contemporary art research is being process-oriented, unpredictable yet consists of elements of conventional research traits.
Nowadays, artist-researchers employ a wide range of mediums and cross-disciplinary research methodologies to contest, question and inquire about various topics. The development of World Wide Web and digital technologies helped artists to have more choices and greater freedom to express their ideas in many different ways.
Since 2007, I have been researching for my practice-based PhD at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK.
PhD thesis title: Stranger’s Identity Explored Through Contemporary Art Practice: In-Between Mongolia and the UK (2012).
The PhD research explored the identities of ‘Stranger’ (Schutz, 1944), ‘Stranger-artist’ and ‘Stranger-Mongolian’ through adopting a semi-autobiographical approach in which I use a variety of practice-based research methodologies in order to produce original art projects and artworks. I use ‘experiential perspective’ (Stevens, 1996) as the main paradigm in inquiring the negotiation process of a necessary adjustment to a different culture, language and society in conjunction with the popular debate of ‘loosing and searching for identity’ (Trinh, 1988).
In particular, the research is concerned with the previously untouched subject of a modern Mongolian national identity, its artistic representation and re-identification in the UK, through practice-based contemporary art methodologies. Drawing on examples from the recent political history of Mongolia and mainstream media, combined with first-hand personal experiences of the realities of national, racial, cultural stereotyping, the research has contested the existing stereotype of Mongolness. Important to this has been the inclusion and intertwining of familial and personal narratives in defining ‘Stranger-Mongolian’ identity, and how these experiences have become continually manifested while undertaking four research trips back and forth to Mongolia. I probed the terms Nicolas Bourriaud’s terms ‘cultural nomad’ and ‘reification’ in relation to Non-Western artists’ practices. As part of this, I have also reflected upon the not widely known and studied art medium of Mongolian traditional painting or Mongol Zurag and its prominent advocator, Narmandakh Tsultem.
The research employed various combinations of methodologies including photography, performances, documentations, installations, videos, interviews and personal narratives, one of which I termed as ‘auto-photo-performance’. The site-specific and spatial qualities of the research were the prepositions to all of the art projects and artworks produced.
The final PhD submission consists of five parts: Part 1, Contextual Document; Part 2, Art Projects & Artworks; Part 3, DVD; Part 4, Canvas Roll Print and Part 5, Photo book.
Keywords: identity, stranger’s identity, Mongolian identity, cultural identity, experiential perspective, Mongol Zurag, contemporary art practice, practice-based research, installation art, research methodologies, site-specific art, photographic practices, performance art, performed photography or photo-performance (and auto-photo-performance).