Call for applications
The 5th Nida Doctoral School
‘Fight The Power 2019/1989: We, the Ungovernable’

Monday 26th August – Saturday 31st August 2019

The Nida Doctoral School (NDS) comprises an intensive programme for DA & PhD students in visual & performing arts, design, media and architecture, as well as the humanities.

Focusing on questions pertinent to their individual research, doctoral candidates will work closely with speakers & tutors from art, design, higher education & the culture sector. Talks, discussion groups, doctoral research presentations (formal, informal, performative, experimental, etc.), peer review, group & individual consultations, derives & screenings will contribute to developing the students’ PhD projects.

This year’s NDS will be held in Venice during the Biennale – at the Lithuanian Pavilion, the Research Pavilion, & additional environments in Venice.

Application deadline: 15 March 2019

Dir. Michelle Williams Gamaker, The Fruit Is There to Be Eaten (still), 2018.

Entitled ‘Fight The Power’, this year’s Nida Doctoral School is energized by the 30th anniversary of Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’ and its opening credit sequence soundtrack-ed by Public Enemy. Convinced by the radical potentialities of research-as-praxis, NDS utilises this 30th anniversary to ask: what does it mean to do the right thing?

Focusing on artistic research’s potentialities, this year’s Nida Doctoral School will struggle with this, and the following questions: how can we as artists, designers, historians, theorists, educators, musicians, and critics engage critically with power? Where does power reside? How is it secured, consolidated, and utilised? And to what end? If power is embedded and embodied in systems - the financial system, the educational system, the culture system, the healthcare system, the system of government and law enforcement – how can we discern, participate critically, and even transform such systems? How should we navigate our way through this quagmire of power-knowledge-control, which shapes truth, and interpellates us as subjects of and subjects to its ideology? If such governmentality is the organised and organising practices (mentalities, rationalities, and techniques) through which our society is rendered governable, why and how might we prove ourselves to be ungovernable?

How then to do the right thing, as we work with (and against) power’s authority and disciplining with regards to for instance: medium-specificity; language and grammar; the limits of geometry; distributed systems, ecologies, and networks; quantification and predictive analytics; the authority of a discipline or field of inquiry or profession; and even the rules and regulations of institutions such as the art school?

As a call to arms, Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’ vibrates with our own climate of rising national popularism and localism, #blacklivesmatter and #metoo, structural racial and gender and ableist inequalities, the global immigration crisis, relentless gentrification and the demise of the high street, police brutality, civil unrest, the rise of the precariat and the gig economy, feelings of helplessness and exhaustion, and the whimsy of truth. As such, the Nida Doctoral School is an occasion to take stock of the present as it has come to be shaped by the historical-political-cultural events of and around 1989: the Revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe, the supposed demise of Communism, the end of History and the beginning of the post-Cold War period, the suppression of mass political protest in Tiananmen Square; the beating of Rodney Kind and the LA riots; the pre-eminence of neo-liberalism, and the advent of an ethics of planetarity. Simultaneously, the Doctoral School is an occasion to look to the future, to how we might envisage the future, and to do so in order not only to interpret the world, in various ways, but to change it.

Spike Lee’s ‘Do the Right Thing’ ends with two quotations, one from Malcolm X saying he is not against using violence in self-defence, and a second from Martin Luther King Jr. advocating nonviolence in the fight for justice. In our own search for justice, how can our research-as-praxis - our labour, our communicative bodies, our performative acts, our conversations, our commitment to communities and to our own creative practice itself – declare our resistance and dissent, our agonism and dissensus, thereby enacting our right to speak which, in turn, enables us to not so much fight the power as fight for power, and, in so doing, honour our obligation to do the right thing?

The confirmed speakers and tutors come from across art, design, museums and galleries, and the public knowledge sector, with extensive experience of carrying out practice-led research, and supporting doctoral students to do likewise.

  • Dr Michelle Williams Gamaker, an artist working with moving image & performance; Lecturer, Goldsmiths; Chair, commissioning agency Pavilion; co-founder, Women of Colour Index (WOCI) Reading Group.
  • Professor Guy Julier, Design Leadership, Aalto University, Finland; researcher, activist, & consultant; publications, Economies of Design, Design & Creativity, The Culture of Design.
  • Morgan Quaintance, presenter, BBC’s The Culture Show; contributing editor, e-flux’s Art Agenda; founding member, curatorial collective DAM PROJECTS; broadcaster, RESONANCE FM, musician; artist and documentary film maker; contributor to Art Monthly, Frieze, and

The curator of the 2019 NDS is Dr Marquard Smith; Programme Leader, MA Museums & Galleries in Education, UCL; Professor of Artistic Research, Vilnius Academy of Arts; Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Visual Culture; Board Member, Live Art Development Agency & Arts Catalyst


Dr Mika Elo, Professor of artistic research at the Academy of Fine Arts (University of the Arts Helsinki); curator, visual artist and researcher; co-convenor of Research Pavilion in Venice Biennale 2019.

Dr Vytautas Michelkevičius, Associated Professor at the Vilnius Academy of Arts; Artistic Director of Nida Art Colony; curator of artistic research projects in various contexts, including the Lithuanian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale (featuring Dainius Liškevičius’ ‘Museum’); and author of Mapping Artistic Research. Towards Diagrammatic Knowing (2018).

Dr Joanne Morra, Reader in Art History and Theory; curator of the Doctoral Platform at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London; Founding Principal Editor of the Journal of Visual Culture.

Dr Sofia Pantouvaki, Professor of Costume Design at Aalto University; scenographer and exhibition curator; Founding Editor Studies in Costume and Performance; Vice-Head for Research, OISTAT Costume, Chair of Critical Costume, Co-Convener, IFTR Scenography Working Group.

What is Nida Doctoral School?

We explore unorthodox approaches to research. Through making, performing, writing, exposing & discussing we test possibilities for generating knowledge outside of the conventional venues and models of academic research. NDS’s goal is to provide time, space, & a conceptual framework for participants to gain insight into their research as well as to broaden and diversify their outlook & methodological tools.

NDS was initiated by Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts and Aalto University. University of the Arts Helsinki and University of the Arts London joined in 2016-2017.

NDS is tailored for doctoral students in visual and performing arts, design & humanities. The programme comprises intensive courses organised once a year and doctoral residencies. Usually at VAA Nida Art Colony, in 2019 the NDS will be held in Venice, coinciding with Nida Art Colony producing the Lithuanian Pavilion for the 58th Venice Biennale. Check the Colony’s call for residency applications for more about doctoral residencies. Upon successful completion of NDS, participants gain 5 ECTS credits.

Tuition, Funding, Costs & Application

There is no tuition fee. Free accommodation in Venice, breakfasts and lunches are provided for selected applicants from Aalto, UniArts Helsinki, UAL, and VAA. Participants from Aalto, UniArts Helsinki, UAL and VAA will cover their travel and dinner expenses in accordance with the guidelines.

Other participants are expected to cover accommodation & partial catering costs, which amount to 400€ per person, and travel costs. UK applicants can benefit from financial assistance via CHASE and TECHNE.

Additional information on ‘Fight the Power’ is available here