Developing her interest in the role of writing in an artist’s practice, Dr Mary Anne Francis contributed to ‘The Art of Research: Research Narratives’ – an international symposium at Chelsea College of Art & Design in October 2008 with the paper On the value of 'Situational Fiction' for an artist’s writing.
Presented as an artwork, and as such, entitled ‘Paper’, the text discussed the tendency towards ‘explanation’ that, as Susan Sontag notes, dominates much writing about art. Proposing a typology of alternative approaches, it argued for the value of one of these in particular: ‘site-specific fiction’, as that deploys fictional/novelistic writing in different types of social space. According to the implications of the paper’s logic, this reflexively includes the conference hall and exhibition space.
Responding for the call for artists to present examples of their work that could be narrated as ‘research’, Mary Anne offered this paper as her artwork, in an exhibition context. While debate about the way in which art might be research (with a big ‘R’) has been plentiful over the last ten years or so, there has been much less discussion about the form of writing in an artist’s research practice (including the PhD), and the way in which this might take on aspects of an art-work (and likewise, challenge more academic definitions of ‘Research’). These are debates that Mary Anne’s ‘Paper’ sought to raise, continuing her work with post-graduates ‘What is an arist’s writing?