A Reward for the best Thesis at the Arts Academies of Zuyd Maastricht


Jury report thesis prize 2016/2017

The jury consisted of:
Jasper Coppes, Anne Geene, Marcel van der Klink, Peter Missotten, Arjan de Nooy, en Ruth Benschop
The thesis prize is founded by the two research centres of the Faculty of Arts (Zuyd Hogeschool) 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.
This year, four thesis prizes of the Faculty of the Arts, Zuyd, year 2016-2017 are awarded to (in no particular order):

  • Aurélie d’Incau - Play and Social Change, A comparison of the notion ‘Play’ in art movements of the 1960s and 21st century culture and its impact on social change
  • Hean Kim - The fundamental common ground between all living beings – < FAMILY >
  • Skye Young - What’s the Buzz with Honey Bees? Illustrating beekeeper management
  • Jessica den Hartog – Recolored, a new way of recycling
This year, also, four encouragement prizes are awarded by the two lectors to (in no particular order):
  • Bart Bijnens – ‘Mijn grootste talent, is dat ik totaal talentloos ben - een lecture performance’
  • Giorgia Martinez Pascucci – Multi-sensorial experience: from Villa to Viola
  • Sammy Foppen – Asperger en symboliek: De taal van emotie
  • Karlijn Krijger – Investigation 8
All winning theses - as well as the winners of the past few years, will be presented at this website

The Jury Report
The jury was enthusiastic about the amount and the quality of this year’s harvest. Some 42 theses have been entered this year. The diversity of the work is more diverse than ever. Moreover, even where the jury recognizes the style and taste of particular schools, the level of the work has increased over the last few years.
  • More theses experiment with finding their own appropriate style for their research trajectory.
  • More theses are based on artistic methodologies for research, rather than on semi scientific approaches.
  • More theses are at once personal, idiosyncratic and rigorous and systematic. More theses problematize rather than solve.
  • And more theses practice what they preach.

Three remarkable observations about the work examined by the jury:
  • A lot of students do interviews, but often fail to use them to great effect. Too often interviews merely reiterate what authors are already claiming.
  • A lot of the theses are written in reasonably good English. Without necessarily wanting to argue against this choice, we wondered why this is so. Who is this English-speaking audience whom the authors are addressing?
  • Almost all of the theses have an implied reader who is a passive, docile reader who receives what the author has to offer. We wonder what other relationships between thesis and reader might be constructed.

Before turning to the description of the four prize winning theses, the two lectors, - as part of the jury - have decided to award
four encouragement prizes. These four theses are very different from one another and the jury had a hard time deciding on their quality as such. However, comparing them to the theses that have been entered from the different academies over the last couple of years, the two lectors decided to award these four striking entrees for their daring and promise. They felt that their ingenuity ought particularly to be noted, celebrated and encouraged.
‘Mijn grootste talent, is dat ik totaal talentloos ben - een lecture performance’
Bart Bijnens, educated at the theatre academy, sent us a text on authenticity and creativity. A light hearted, personal exploration that is in itself not outstanding, becomes interesting because of its form. It is a lecture performance. And it performs what it is about. It made the jury wonder in an engaging way, and relevant to theatre, what in fact had been entered into the competition: the text we read, or rather the video registration of the lecture-performance we watched.
‘Multi sensorial experience: form Villa to Viola.’
Giorgia Martinez Pascucci conducted an unusual experiment when as a musician she visited a garden in la Montella in order to undergo and document an experience. She asks how that experience impacts on her understanding of and performance of the Walden Viola Concerto. This is a refreshing approach on examining new ways to play a piece of music. Even if the garden in La Montella turns out to be the wrong garden, as the composer wrote the concerto before moving into la Montella, it still proves to be inspiring. This all results in a well documented easy-read, even for laymen. The originality of her approach, especially for the conservatory, outweighs the exalted romanticism and innocence of her text.
‘Asperger en symboliek: De taal van emotie’ Sammy Foppen writes this thesis from a very personal starting point that, we believe, has a larger relevance for arts practice and arts education. Diagnosed with (one probably could say after reading this thesis: being gifted with) Asperger Syndrome, Sammy explores the wonderful but slightly incomprehensible world of emotions. In a world bombarded with emotions, where ‘I feel this is right’ seems to be the ultimate criterium, this is a refreshing report from an unconventional perspective. Sammy sets up for a thorough classification of emotions, trying to find a fitting library of graphics to each of them. The thesis first focuses on Asperger, as well as tracing artists with similar diagnoses. It feels a bit odd, but that’s also a big quality of this thesis: a truly personal research into the relevancy of emotions for the artistic practice. These personal, well crafted and thorough journeys should be encouraged.
‘Investigation 8’
Karlijn Krijger gave us a large black box. In this box was a heavily worked and reworked scrapbook, filled with a large diversity of materials, sources, citations, search- and thought processes. This book (or box), that the jury studied during the meeting, is a one-off original that would have suffered from digital reproduction. The jury appreciated this celebration of a particular, individual taste and of the materiality of processes of gathering, reflecting and documenting. Even if it feels as an almost random collection, it opens up a whole new world of fascinating ways to present a thesis. Unfortunately, the accompanying pdf didn’t do any justice to the work itself.

Four thesis prizes of the Faculty of the Arts, Zuyd, year 2016-2017 are awarded to (in no particular order):
Play and Social Change, A comparison of the notion ‘Play’ in art movements of the 1960s and 21st century culture and its impact on social change
Aurélie d’Incau
wrote a very thorough thesis on the role of ‘Play’ and its relationship to ideas about social change. To study this, she focuses on playful arts. She first differentiates ‘Game’ and ‘Play’ and then turns to study the 60s Fluxus movement and the Situationist International. Her interest is in understanding something about the expectations we have of the societal impact of the arts. Her thesis is well written and incites the reader to think with and argue alongside the analysis. The choice to focus on 1960s art movement is relevant. The over five pages of references she includes, point to a very diverse world of inspiration and documentation for this thesis. The severity in her approach is unfortunately also reflected in the design of the thesis, which has almost no illustrations. The thesis starts from an implied activist role for the arts, but ends more with a personal declaration than an argumentation. The thesis nowhere points to a possible personal artistic practice which, for an art student, we felt was something to encourage for future writing.

The fundamental common ground between all living beings - < FAMILY >
Hean Kim
starts from very personal observations and from these, explores the role of ‘Family’ within Korean society and the arts. “I broke up with three different boy friends.
To put it plainly, they broke up with me.” (page 2) This thesis reads like a road movie along unexpected roads and crossings, at times losing its sense of direction or destination, but always fascinating in its observations. It takes indifference as a starting point, and rather than aiming to resolve it, it systematically turns to the notion of indifference itself. The jury was taken with the quality of the interviews that were detailed and informative, rather than simply illustrating an argumentative point of the author. Also, the tone of the thesis was noted positively: It has a naivety that is not childish, and thus creates an authenticity sometimes lacking in other theses with a more … ponderous style. The thesis ends with ‘The socks’, a refreshingly personal, tragic and absurd story on socks in public places. This thesis is real artistic research: richly and personally documenting the road to an authentic piece of art. 

What’s the Buzz with Honey Bees?
In her thesis, Skye Young takes the very real and specific problem of the decline of the honeybee as a starting point. Her thesis aims to support beekeepers in their attempts to care for their bees. To do so, she systematically explores sources available to hobby beekeepers on beekeeper management, to find what’s missing. She examines different illustration principles to settle on the most appropriate for her goal: making a very practical guide for hobby beekeepers. In all of her work, she keeps the audience as a participant in the process in the back of her mind. This is noticeable in the sketches she includes and the introductions she writes form her personal novice perspective in beekeeping. This leads to a mature, very nicely crafted, visually and textually coherent, fascinating thesis, even for a layman.

Recolored, A new way of recycling
Jessica den Hartog
’s thesis is an extremely detailed and well-crafted research into the possibilities of ‘colour’ in recycling. She’s very straightforward in her approach, which could have make it a tad boring, if she hadn’t gone all the way and beyond. She researches as a designer, focusing on the aesthetics of trash. The jury is also enthusiastic about the aptness of the research project as the finalization of her BA-education. It seems a good way to start a professional career. The thesis is very well designed and illustrated, ending in some 60 pages of new ‘recycled colours’, ranging from Mistral blue to Granier yellow. Her research is coherent, interesting and important: to make recycled plastic products a lot more appealing by recycling their original colours, instead of blending them into a dull grey. It all adds up to some 189 delightedly coloured pages.

Vormgeving / Design
Master Scientific Illustration
Toneelacademie - ‘Mijn grootste talent, is dat ik totaal talentloos ben - een lecture performance’
Master Muziek / Master Music
Vormgeving / Design
Vormgeving / Design (is maar één exemplaar van)