The Institute of Art, Writing and Research

The Institute of Art, Writing and Research is a department set up under The Schools of Visual Arts

You find the Institute of Art, Writing and Research, inaugurated in 2015, in a back yard in the centre of Copenhagen. Situated among laboratories, studios and auditoriums within the spaces of art making itself makes a crucial point for the institute. Artistic practice is the place from which our theoretical, historical and research-based teachings and investigations take place. Instead of focusing on a separation between practice and theory, the institute is founded on the knowledge that they presuppose one another and our task is to help making the theoretical components strong within the artistic practice.
As a theoretical department we focus on two areas: teaching and research. Together our theoretical and historical teachings form a backbone throughout the BFA and the MFA. The first year of the BFA, students attend a course in art history and together with a thorough theoretical course with invited lecturers at the second year of the BFA, they provide the foundation for our students’ further historical and theoretical development. Students at the last year of their BFA together with MFA students attend our research-based Open Practice and writing courses (more below) that aim to further the investigative and verbal part of art practice.
Minor in Writing and Research
The Institute of Art, Writing and Research provides a Minor in Writing and Research. The Minor in Writing and Research is an elective, specialising course that offers students the opportunity to strengthen their artistic education by focusing on a theoretical, reflected understanding of art and on written modes of expression aimed at the field of research. The Minor in Writing and Research consists of three Open Practice courses followed by an MFA essay at the student’s final year on the MFA programme. The Minor in Writing and Research is open to students in their third year of the BFA programme and students in years one through three of the MFA programme.

The Open Practice course is intended as a way of opening up investigative practices and is based on theory and artistic research method. Each Open Practice course lasts one semester and is taught by one of the institute’s academic artistic researchers on at topic related to their research project. It comprises a mixture of lectures given by experts, reading groups, a writing course, an art based seminar or field trip and a day of reflection at the beginning and end of the course. In the reflection day, the students are actively encouraged to reflect on their own practice and its questions regarding conceptual framework, fields of study, method and analysis. The Open Practice course offers a prism for presenting and conceptualising artistic investigation for each individual student, while giving them tools through following an advanced researcher in his or her own research process.

The MFA essay that concludes the Minor in Writing and Research is intended for students who wish to delve down into a subject of their own choice. Individual tutoring and regular submissions guide and support the otherwise autonomous writing, where essays take shape within the spectrum of more traditional academic essays to performatively written essays. During this process, the students build up their theoretical and historical insight in relation to their subject and gain in-depth insight into main texts and analyses thereof. Students will also upgrade their written practice and learn how to meet the requirements associated with written academic practices.

To qualify to write the MFA essay, students must have completed three Open Practice courses on embarking on the essay. The essay is written during the last year of the MFA.
Research is an integral part of the Institute for Art, Writing and Research and as head of institute, Sidsel Nelund is also head of research of the entire academy. A crucial point for working with research in an art context is to assume and work with the fact that materials have their own ideas. Listening to the ideas of materials is a fundamental starting point for letting them speak. The research staff comprising PhD students, postdocs, researchers, associate professors and professors shows an array of artistic and art historical research. Sustainable plastic for casting, ruins, archives, nation building, outer space, ecology, concrete, scale, display, performance lectures, global art histories, monotypes, education and many more topics are all subject to thorough and sustained research. What the artistic research projects share is that theoretical and practice related developments presuppose one another and that the artistic practice is necessary for undertaking the investigation in question. Through the emphasis on questions of the materialization of theoretical, scientific and societal investigations, the character of our research challenge and accentuate, in short, how we know.
For the coming years, the two main focus among the research staff are the relationship between art practice and theory and material knowledge. This focus unfolds in study groups, lectures, teaching and our ongoing discussions among the staff. A pivotal point for unfolding the research practices and our understanding of what artistic research is, is to let the practices speak for themselves through their chosen language of artistic research and thereby base our discussion within the field on concrete projects rather than philosophical discussions about the term artistic research. For that purpose, we have created two simple meeting points for sharing research among the staff, students and the public: Rundgang Research and Skabet for Kunstnerisk Forskning og Relaterede Aktiviteter (The Cabinet for Artistic Research and Related Activities).

Rundgang Research has run as a public symposium since 2016 during Rundgang at the end of the school year. Here staff and students are invited to present their research and the programme takes form according to the incoming proposals, which have come about in an array of presentations, performance lectures, interventions, performances, screenings etc. Rundgang Research is organized by and takes place at Institute for Art, Writing and Research. Due to the growth in size and interest from the public in the recent years, we have decided to schedule the next Rundgang Research for November 22-23 2019.

Skabet for Kunstnerisk Forskning og Relaterede Aktiviteter consists of four vitrines and is situated in the entrance to Peder Skrams Gade 2 accessible to the public. Here the research staff exhibits ongoing research for a period of three weeks during the school year. The aim is to display the research outside of our studios, offices and laboratories and share and discuss it in a straightforward manner.
Research fellows
Academic researchers with external research funding hosted by the academy are all based at the Institute for Art, Writing and Research. In the past years, the institute has grown to become a vibrant environment across ages and disciplines such as art, art history and art theory. Two to four times a year we host master classes chosen and organized by the research fellows, who also in most cases teach an Open Practice course based on their current research project. Research fellows are granted a shared office space, which supports this active research environment where interests meet despite differences in research projects. We highly value the ongoing creation of the research environment and count on the engagement of researchers in collective events. Having in mind that the Institute of Art, Writing and Research is the main institutional framework for artistic research within the visual arts in Denmark, we reckon that such a research environment only develop through a committed, collective and open spirit. For that reason, and because the institute is still relatively young, we encourage collaborations both internationally through individual research projects and through networks such as KUNO collaborations and SAR (Society of Artistic Research) and nationally through collaborations with the University of Copenhagen, AArhus University and KUV-netværket (Network for Artistic Research).

The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Visual Arts does not grant PhD degrees and does not provide funding for PhD research or other kinds of research. Please follow this link for further information on the topic.
Selected guest lecturers and master classes at Institute of Art, Writing and Research:
Susanne von Falkenhausen
Alexander Düttmann
Yuk Hui
Phillippa Seza
Lina Majdalanie
Hvid[me] Archive
Dalida Maria Benfield
Susan Schuppli
Peggy Deamer
Anders Lund Hansen
Colin Crouch
Aurora Torres
Olof Olsson
Stephanie Hessler
Mara Lee
Mara Lee
Aparna Sharma
Trinh T. Minh-ha
TJ Demos
Susan Schuppli
Open Practice
Fall 2017. Rikke Luther: The Eco-Commons … In the Time of Messed Up Democracy
Spring 2018. Katrine Dirckinck-Holmfeld: Archives that Matter
Fall 2018. James Day: In Media Res
Spring 2019. David Hilmer Rex: Artistic Practice and Systems Change
Fall 2019. Honey Biba Beckerlee: Digital Matters
Spring 2020. Christian Danielewitz: Hidden Flow: The Production of Invisible Territories in the Age of Digital Visibility
Semester plans and study regulations:
Study plan spring 2019
Study plan fall 2018
Study plan spring 2018
Study plan fall 2017
Study regulation Minor in Art, Writing and Research

Katarina Stenbeck

PhD student

In Search of the lost Future is a curatorial practice-based Ph.D. project on the implications of the Anthropocene.  I approach the Anthropocene as an event, Rrather than thea geological epoch defined and described by the natural sciences, I approach the Anthropocene as an event, in order to identifying the historical and ideological developments, which have caused radical transformations of the planet and its life- sustaining processes. The project examines European colonialism and early capitalism as a turning point, after which has accelerated the consumption of the planet through a global web of exploitation, legitimized by the ideological paradigm of Western modernity and its externalization of nature, has only accelerated. Following this, I discuss how cCapitalist modernity’s repression of otherness creates a knot of destructive processes making possible the increasing extinction of species, peoples and worlds. The project explores the exhibition as a space where questions of the Anthropocene can be approached in new ways, generating other ways of perceiving human and non-human entanglements in the web of life.



+45 3374 4638

Rikke Luther

PhD student

The title of my PhD is Concrete Aesthetics: From Universal Rights to Financial Post Democracy.

As the title suggests, this research has two parts. The first part of the research is examines the political, and specifically democratic, ‘architectures’ that gave concrete its particular meaning in Scandinavian societies in the era between 1945 and 1980. It is the era of the post-war welfare state in most parts of Europe. More generally, that coincides with the era of universality symbolised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). So concrete, the universal material, seemingly gave form to those ideals.

The second part of the research, examines the current meaning of concrete in the very different context of today. That is, a context – apart from the negative association between concrete and climate change – defined in relation to what Colin Crouch has defined as the ‘post-democratic era’, in that the main dynamics ordering social space are no longer those of democracy, but rather those based on, or derived from, the freedom of markets.

Practical outputs of this research will use artistic work to generate new, materially embodied, understandings of these developments.


Hanne Abildgaard



Honey Biba Beckerlee

PhD student


David Hilmer Rex

PhD student

My project, titled Artistic Practice and Systems Change, is focused on developing Primer. Primer is a platform for artistic and organizational development, housed in the context of Aquaporin, a global water technology company, in Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark. Primer is a collective project by Diakron, a transdisciplinary studio I am a co-founder of.
The main objective is to explore and consolidate what purposes, functions and activities an art-based research and development department, might take on, both as integral to and autonomous from Aquaporin. The core questions explored are: 1) What might be the roles, functions and activities of an art-based research and development department, housed in a research-driven technology company? 2) What might result if we renew relations between artistic, scientific, technological and business practices? 3) What does impact look like to unfolding cultural interventions in technology development? The question is not, how do we achieve a specific set of impacts, but what are the emerging impacts?
You can read more about the project at and


Christian Danielewitz

PhD student

My research project "Hidden Flow: The Production of Invisible Territories in the Age of Digital Visibility" focuses on the relation between the destruction of ecosystems and the material production of our mineralbased image technologies. The point of departure is a particular repercussion of mineral extraction, namely radioactive mineral waste deposits, also known as hidden flow.
The theoretical framework of the research project is informed by a redefinition of the relation between the map (generated by the image technologies), and the territory (the contaminted zones of mineral waste). The project aims to visualise this relation as a material causality, where the territory in an environmental and physical sense is produced by the map, or rather, by the material foundation of the map (the minerals).
The relation between the map and the territory, as defined within this context, thus exposes a paradox, which the research project investigates: The mineralbased production of camera technology accelerates the formation of material - but invisible - deposits of mineral waste, which "disappears" in the territory (hidden), but reappears - as an immaterial, digital image - in the map (by way of Google Earth e.g) - which is generated by the same camera technology.


James Day