An Award for the best Thesis at the Arts Academies of Zuyd Maastricht
Jury report thesis prize 2018/2019

The jury consisted of:
Jasper Coppes, Anne Geene, Marcel van der Klink, Peter Missotten, Arjan de Nooy, en Ruth Benschop

The thesis prize was founded by the research centres AOK and TDA (Zuyd University of Applied Sciences) to encourage students to make theses (and/or documentations of artistic processes) that do justice to their own artistic practice. Too often, reflection within arts education falls back on semi scientific ideals of validity and objectivity. This removes critical reflexivity from artistic practice. The research centres TDA and AOK support theses, documentations, reflection and research within arts education that are relevant to artistic practice.

The prize winners will both receive an iPad with a value of around 550 euro. The two research centres will investigate the possibilities of publishing (part of) the theses in a book.

This year, we received 25 submissions, 18 bachelor entries and 7 from students in master programs. This year, we were happy to see that students from the Toneelacademie Maastricht increasingly find their way to the prize. Maastricht Conservatorium students sadly increasingly do not. And this year we received no entries from I-arts students.

We will first give some general impressions about this year’s entries. These observations do not replace, but add onto those made in former years, that are gathered on Below, the winning entries will be discussed.

This year, the jury would like to recommend art students:

1) Use your own artistic craftmanship as a starting point and relate to your field. The jury sees too many entries that wonder off into other fields (for instance literary writing) sometimes demonstrating a lack of the necessary skills. In itself, this is potentially interesting. But please show how such diversifications are relevant for your own artistic practice or your own artistic discipline.

2) Reporting on what you did often is part of a thesis, and the more honestly you do so, in your own voice, showing the ups and the downs, the better. But chronologically narrating how the project developed is in itself only a starting point. What did you learn from the research process? How is that relevant to your artistic discipline? How did writing about it result in new insights? And how has your learning impacted your artistic practice?

3) The jury loves style exercises: those theses and documentations that self-consciously experiment with form distinguish the reflexive and analytic work that belongs in art schools. However, as in art projects, stylistic exercises are not enough in themselves. What are you experimenting with, about and for?

4) Apply consistently some kind of system for citing and referring to sources so you don’t plagiarize unintentionally. However, this advice is not intended to make sure your thesis looks neat and serious. You should do so because you require sources and understand how to use them as (counter)arguments, elaborations, supports, or qualifications, instead of confirmations or better versions of your own writing.

5) Remember: Writing a thesis may not be so very different from making a work of art. It is just as hard, just as interesting. Things like consistency and coherence, imagination and craftsmanship are important here too.

This year, three thesis prizes from the research centres AOK and TDA, year 2018-2019 are awarded to (in alphabetical order):

Kevin Str
der – Anomie

Kevin Strder's book is a consequent and driven exploration that starts from an obsession with the author’s mother and that combines multi-lingual texts and self-made images. What it is actually about, is only hinted at and remains nicely obscure. The jury also liked its loose feel, its abundance of questions and its urgency for the author. The first part is made up of text, containing issues and questions that, for the jury, triggered an eagerness to read more. However, the second part of the pamphlet-like book consists entirely of visual research, in which the artist’s images themselves – and their amount and order – become an argument. Such artistic research is welcomed enthusiastically by the jury.

Omid Kheirabadi – Imaging the Space

Sometimes the jury feels a need to hear from art students about what they have learned about their discipline’s history. This is definitely not a problem for Omid Kheirabadi’s extremely well researched thesis in which contextualization through an impressive amount of relevant architectural and photographical sources abound. The thesis explores the different relationships between architecture and photography and questions what it means for architecture to be designed for photographical representation. The jury really appreciated noticing how Omid has enjoyed doing the research for his thesis. Especially since Omid’s use of sources is thorough and analytic, even when his actual technical citating is at moments a bit too nonchalant and confusing.

Lindsay Zwaan – Leuk gedaan hoor, maar wat mot ik ermee? Met jouw privé?

Lindsay Zwaan wrote a refreshingly blunt, authentic and readable text addressing the ways in which she explores the differences between the private and the personal, between the real and the fake, between what can and should be shared (in theatre) and what can or should not. Her topic is relevant to theatre, even though the models she uses to push for new insights don’t always deliver the proposed result. The text does show how the author gained insights through the act of writing. The jury liked her use of the form of crossing out parts of her text providing an insight in her unfolding thought process.
Imaging the Space
Leuk gedaan hoor, maar wat mot ik ermee? Met jouw privé?