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Arts academics encouraged to take their research further than its parent discipline

by Gerrit Bester

Dr Jasna Jovićević, a Serbian art scholar, activist, and acclaimed saxophonist, is currently visiting the Tshwane University of Technology's Faculty of Arts and Design as part of a curriculum enhancement project and research collaboration with staff and students. The curriculum enhancement project is aimed at introducing Artivism projects focused on GBV awareness where she aims to encourage arts academics that their research has the potential to go much further than its parent discipline.

Her visit is well timed to coincide with the Faculty's forthcoming International Conference on Artivism, as the conference, scheduled for September, also aims to explore the transformative power of art in challenging prevailing power structures and advocating for social change.

The latter is a recurrent theme in Dr Jovićević's research.

On 29 April, Dr Jovićević, who is visiting South Africa for the first time, was the guest speaker at the Faculty's A Re Bueng (Let's Talk) seminar series, where she discussed her artistic research and social engagement in relation to Artivism over the past fifteen years.

Coming from a cultural background rooted in decades of regional conflict, political upheaval and pervasive patriarchal dominance, she said her own cultural and social experiences resonated with the South African experience.

In her presentation, entitled Artistic research and social engagement, Dr Jovićević shared, among other things, parts of her transdisciplinary, practice-based research projects, including Flow Vertical, a new album she and her sextet have produced. This project is based on research into sound vibrations through music and their direct impact on our bodies, energy and creativity. She has explored the creative process of composing and improvising, experiencing and producing specific sound frequencies that affect our mind, body and energy centres (chakras) in specific ways.

She also discussed her research into the gender perspectives of instrumental jazz performers in Southeastern Europe and how she used the findings, which indicated that less than 5% of instrumentalists in her home country were women, to raise awareness of this social issue.

In addition, she touched on a research project, titled I Sit and Worry About Her which involved a sound representation of the continuous motherly worries and aimed at understanding the activity of the brain and its electric impulses by exploring the spontaneous interactive relations of the participants during musical improvisation. The results of this research were also presented in the form of a musical performance.

Dr Jovićević is a musician, composer and researcher from Serbia who has performed at major festivals in Europe, the USA and Canada, and whose discography includes seven solo albums and a dozen as a sidewoman. She teaches music and is involved in the development of innovative non-formal music education methods. She has gained international recognition through her participation in prestigious arts and science projects, artist-in-residencies and success in various music competitions.

Dr Jovićević earned her degree in Jazz Saxophone performance and Teaching from the Franz Liszt Music Academy in Budapest, followed by an MA in Music Composition from York University in Toronto, a PhD in Arts and Media from Singidunum University in Belgrade, and is a certified yoga instructor.

Dr Jovićević is scheduled to return to South Africa in June and September to conduct Artivism workshops and a pilot project focused on GBV awareness and participate in the TUT Arts Festival and the International Conference on Artivism, co-hosted by the Faculty of Arts and Design.

Dr Jasna Jovićević, Serbian artistic scholar and acclaimed saxophonist, speaking at the Faculty of Arts and Design’s A Re Bueng seminar on 29 April.


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