Topologies of Artistic Research.
Notes on the Transformative Turn in Art

Sarah Kolb

Within the past decades, an increasing interest in artistic research practices has brought about new experimental and transdisciplinary forms of knowledge production challenging the rigid borders of traditional disciplines. This turn towards more open-ended and transformational conceptions of knowledge is closely related to a specific interest in mathematical topology, which, in continuation of the pioneering debates within the historical avant-gardes, has had an ongoing impact on the arts since the 1960s. Starting from a non-binary logic of relations, transformations, and ambiguities, artists counter essentialist concepts such as the perfect masterpiece or sovereign authorship with process-oriented, performative, and participatory practices, thus making topology productive on a discursive, but also on a methodological level.

Jette Gejl Kristensen, To Knot or Not to Knot, VIKTORIA Art & Research Space, Vienna, 2021, photo: Kati Bruder.

This talk took place during the conference «traversing topologies» on 25. September 2021
at Hochschule Luzern Design & Kunst. Credits: Directing & Audio – Antonio Corrado,
Camera – Vasco Estermann

Sarah Kolb is an art scientist, philosopher, and curator based in Vienna and Linz. With her research project Topologies of Artistic Research. Relational Knowledge in Art and Theory she is FWF Elise Richter Senior Fellow at the University of Art and Design Linz and founding member of VIKTORIA Art and Research Space in Vienna. Before she was visiting professor of 20th century art history at the University of Salzburg, research associate at the University of Art and Design Linz, visiting lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, and curator at the Vienna Secession. Sarah Kolb was holder of several scholarships in Austria and abroad. For a list of publications, exhibitions, and other projects, see