Encyclopedia of In — Betweenness

Anna Jensen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


The dissertation Encyclopedia of In-Betweenness. An Exploration of a Collective Artistic Research Practice presents art as a socially prominent phenomenon that is always in a state of becoming. It suggests that art is on the front line perceiving new emerging ideas and ideologies while it also impacts and creates them. This means that art is obliged to seek what we, in fact, cannot yet know. The thesis has two main research questions. It explores how art can be a way to approach the unknown, and how it can be a tool for societal research and change. By creating art, we create societies. This is an immense task, and this dissertation explores the possibilities and responsibilities of it. Working towards the new always means working with the unknown, being in process and in an in-between state of becoming. To present in-betweenness, processes and becoming - things that are not known to us - new forms and methodologies are needed. Mapping the entanglements of the contemporary art world the thesis provides new perspectives on the relational nature of our being and ends up documenting a turn in the contemporary art world: how collective practices, site-specific and process-led approaches have emerged from the margins to the mainstream. The thesis documents how collective art projects can function as research platforms providing new knowledge and places for encounters. This study, positioned in the field of artistic research, uses exhibition making and curating as methods. By creating a network of varied knowledge, from the analysis of past projects to the diversification of theoretical and philosophical references, this dissertation intends to present how everything is in process and everything is symbiotic. The form of the dissertation – an encyclopedia with taxonomic colour-coding – is part of the methodology. It adds one layer to the domino effect of projects playing with known forms and questions of the unknown. Because artistic research operates with forms and experiences, these methods are part of the mediation: the in-betweenness and process-oriented approach defines the form and reading. The form follows the logic of the over 20 collaborative projects realized by the author during the past ten years presented and analyzed in the thesis. Deconstructing familiar concepts from “biennial” to “world expo” and “encyclopedia” helps to explore the unfamiliar and makes hidden structures visible. The thematically colour-coded entries map the current discourses, but they also point out the hierarchical conception of knowledge itself and the absurdity of taxonomic processes. It leads to the question of control, and the fact that eventually one can never control how something is encountered, experienced, and interpreted.
Translated title of the contributionEncyclopedia of In — Betweenness
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Laakso, Harri, Supervising Professor
  • El Baroni, Bassam, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-64-1347-1
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-1348-8
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • artistic research
  • collective practices


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