The Laboratory for Art Research

The Laboratory for Art Research is a department set up under The Schools of Visual Arts

You find the The Laboratory for Art Research, inaugurated in 2015, in a back yard in the centre of Copenhagen. Situated among The Royal Danish Academy's other 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 Laboratory for Art 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 The Laboratory for Art Research and the head of institute 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 The Laboratory for Art Research. In the past years, the laboratory 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 The Laboratory for Art 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.
Examples of Open Practice courses:
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
Current semesterplan available here

Maibritt Borgen

Associate professor, Art Theory, Acting Head of Institute

Maibritt Borgen is educated in Art History from University of Copenhagen and Yale University, from where she also holds a Ph.D. Borgen is a former Helena Rubinstein Critical Studies Fellow from the Whitney Independent Study Program and she has worked at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Yale Art Gallery.

Borgen's research and teaching center on the aesthetic, social, technological and political systems, visual arts are part of, and she has published articles on multimedia performance and communication technology in the 1960s.



+45 2425 2376

Julie Hardenberg portraet

Julie Hardenberg

PhD student

In the PhD project "Between power and powerlessness – the de/colonized mind" I will examine the colonial memories and experiences that exist among the population in Greenland. Based on my previous artistic studies of the Danish colonial history's political influence in Greenland, I seek in the project to focus on what I call the de / colonized mind, exposed to crucial political and cultural influence from Denmark.

The project's hypothesis is that when you are born and raised in a society that is built with colonial structures and thought patterns, it is not always that you as a citizen are aware of your own contribution to reproducing the colonial system. Therefore, the project aims to examine the more invisible aspects of the colonial structures and shed light on the impact it has on the citizens / society: How do descendants of colonialism carry the colonial heritage with them? What are the processes you take on when you want to fit in or stand out?

The coverage will take place through qualitative studies, in the form of interviews with citizens who have undergone a mental decolonization process. The interview material will form the basis of a subsequent artistic process, where I will, based on the individual, embodied experiences, examine how colonialism has not only transformed the history of geographical places, but also the bodies that inhabit the places today.


Ph.d.-studerende Kristoffer Raasted

Kristoffer Raasted

PhD student, On leave

New Connections: Queering the Radio Voice

In my artistic practice, the research I conduct aims to generate new knowledge, insights, and works of art in the intersectional field of synthetic voices, queer studies, performance theory, technology studies, and anti-racism theory. Contemporary art is continually transforming, and to follow that development, I think the methods and theories flexibly must change as well. I engage both artistically and academically with podcasts, DJing, sound art, and art radio as cultural practices that provide a starting point for this research. Webcasting is both a way of presenting and documenting sound pieces. This function was traditionally taken care of by state-organized radio. Today, however, the documentation and broadcasting of experimental sound artworks is largely reliant on independent channels.

I want to research this dynamic by analyzing some of the online radio stations that serve this societal function today. As a practice-based and artistic research project, artistic activities such as participating in exhibitions, performing curations, lectures and artist talks are considered part of the PhD-project on equal terms with, for instance, publishing a peer reviewed article or attending a conference within academia.

The PhD project is a direct continuation of my prior research, which has mainly revolved around sound and performance art. I will establish an online radio station at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, which will serve the double function of documenting and communicating the artistic research to a wider public. The radio station will also be a useful resource in the production of artistic knowledge. I envisage a four-fold output for the PhD: an exhibition, a concluding broadcast, an article-based PhD thesis and a zine with contributions from the collaborators that have partaken in the radio programs. I want the radio station to be an open site for knowledge sharing, that can flexibly adapt to events in the art world that makes new ways of understanding things possible.

It is important to me, in making it as open a format as possible, and I see it as a way of ensuring a curious approach to running the radio channel, that the premise of the radio station is very clearly defined and communicated already at the launch of the radio. For one thing, I want the radio station to have a publicly communicated zero-tolerance for any type of discrimination. In a contemporary visual arts context, sound can be considered an in-between medium, which activates and interacts with many other research areas. With the radio show New Connections, I hope to build a network of listeners on the art scene.


Artist Kristoffer Raasted is educated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Visual Arts in 2018 with a supplementary MFA in art theory from the Institute of Artistic Research and exchange semesters at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and Faculdade de Belas-Artes Ulisboa, and a three-month internship period at Issue Project Room in New York. Raasted conducts artistic research in the intersectional field between sound, performance and installations and will commence the practice-based ph.d. project at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in september 2020. The PhD stipend is granted by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and is organized in a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen and The Academy of Fine Arts.




Portraet af Ragnhild May

Ragnhild May

PhD student

Traditional Western instruments are designed for a specific body and a specific type of practice. Feminism and post-humanism give a different view on the body’s relation to technology than the one that has been prevalent in musical history. What traditionally has been viewed as separate entities are fused and entangled. An example of such an entangled relation is seen in the psychoacoustic phenomenon difference tones, an additional low-frequency third tone that occurs endogenously in the ear of the listener as a consequence of two high pitched tones. The sound is elicited from inside the body of the listener, that thereby can be seen as the instrument itself or the site for composition. This raises issues such as: Can one envision a type of instrument practise for other norms, bodies and forms of practices? When are the categories body and instrument entangled?

Artistic work with instruments that blurs the boundaries between listener, performer and instrument can change the traditional notions of music. My PhD challenges the relations between instrument and body, performatively, conceptually and technologically. Through artistic work in dialogue with scientific research, I explore the instrument as a figure, by developing instruments that create other types of listener-instrument relations and practice forms and challenge what can be seen as an instrument.


Portræt af Lea Porsager

Lea Porsager


OUTRAGEOUS INTIMACY [spooky touch at a distance]
Mass extinctions, insurrections, climate change, etc.—the current state of the world puts energy at the center of discourse, divulging deep political and economic agendas and entanglements. The postdoc project OUTRAGEOUS INTIMACY [spooky touch at a distance] aspires to address the urgent need to re-form energy. It calls for the conceptual properties of the historical readymade to be applied to the field of earthwork.

It proposes that seemingly extinct sites can be approached as dormant, erogenous zones, calling for touch—processes of sensitization—to unleash their latent, anarchic vibrancy. OUTRAGEOUS INTIMACY is fuelled by two, basal desires: 1) The longing to address cosmic energy, scientific phenomena, political erosion and matters of extinction in affirmative and libidinous ways, and 2) The yearning for intimate bonds of e/motion and fleshy entanglements in troubling times. The project unfolds in a collaboration with Arts at CERN — the arts program at CERN (European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva).


Undervisningsassistent i kunsthistorie Katarine Stenbeck

Katarina Stenbeck

Associate professor, Art History

Katarina Stenbeck is educated in Art History from University of Copenhagen and Goldsmiths College and has worked as a curator and teacher in institutional and self-organized contexts.



+45 3374 4638