A few years ago I created, and began teaching, an elective course in the art department at Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez on the ethics involved in art making practices. More specifically the class was designed to ask collectively (me along with the students) whether or nor ethic issues should be considered when practicing art production. Eventhough it is now part of the required curriculum, to my surprise still some of my colleagues as well as few students in the department are opposed to the question even being asked. Art, it seems to them, should be beyond reproach.
In this sense, of course I am happy to explore and reflect upon the ways in which ethical concerns are taken into account when conducting research; however I can’t help but to find the contrast quite interesting: Where as on the one hand research (academic and otherwise) is expected to be conducted within a strict set of ethical frameworks; much of contemporary art (and much of the criticism that comes along with it) continues to cling to the idea of art for art sake as if it were conducted and produced in a bubble where the rest of human activity is not taken into account. Furthermore, when one speaks of arts-based research, the question to proponents of the art for art sake argument needs to be asked: should, or can, art in the instance of research adhere to the aforementioned argument; or should it abide by the ethical guidelines discussed in class?