Since its founding in 2013, Het Nieuwe Instituut has pioneered research in architecture, design and digital culture, fostering programmes, exhibitions, lectures, archival investigations and publications in the Netherlands and internationally.
Through its annual Call for Fellows, Het Nieuwe Instituut’s Research Department acknowledges and gives visibility to research projects offering departures from established modes of thinking and practice. For this iteration of the Call for Fellows, the Research Department has selected the theme of BURN-OUT. Exhaustion on a Planetary Scale.
Building upon last year’s call, the 2019 research trajectory aims to instigate forms of coexistence, sensibility and care for multispecies, collective bodies in times of planetary burn-out.
Under unrelenting pressure and divisive and exploitative climates, bodies are exhausted. To burn-out is to stall, break or become otherwise unusable. In other words, processes, procedures and participation simply stop working. Yet, burn-out could also be a generative point of departure; an opportunity to break open, promote action and catalyse change towards new structures and relations. How can new, unconventional approaches to research, administration, communications, critical thought and practice be developed and utilised to challenge the inevitability of burn-out? What other perspectives might be considered?
Through the convergence of, and alliances between, decolonial, post-Anthropocenic, and queering epistemologies, more equitable and inclusive social, political, technical as well as biological ecologies have been imagined and instigated to some extent. However, in order for these to be fully materialized, existing structures need to be re-shaped. Or, has this all burned out?
Moving beyond the individual and the human body, the notion of burn-out of the planetary body addresses the ongoing presence of multi-scalar, exploitative structures. An alternative proposition could be care as a distributed agency among more-than-human things and beings. Care, in this regard, is not understood as "a feel-good attitude," but rather—referring to the work of Maria Puig de la Bellacasa—through dimensions of affect/affection, labour/work, and ethics/politics.
Fostering open-ended and non-predetermined modes of thinking, and refusing universal claims, this initiative calls for imaginaries, epistemologies, spatial relations, and forms of action that enhance and sustain care for collective, more-than-human bodies. How can design, architecture and digital culture support multi-species cohabitation?
About the Research Fellowships: Het Nieuwe Instituut Research Fellowships are 6-month positions based at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, the Netherlands from September 2019–February 2020. They include a monthly stipend of 2000 EUR, a return trip from the country of residence, and a research visit to the human exclusion zone of Chernobyl in June 2020. Het Nieuwe Instituut invites applicants from all citizenships and places of residence. The Research Fellowships are open to all degree levels in all disciplines. Equal priority will be given to those without a degree or institutional affiliation who can also demonstrate a high level of creativity, critical thought and other potential in their respective fields. Neither a curriculum vitae nor letters of recommendation are requested. There is no age limit for applicants. Collectives and collective bodies are encouraged to apply.
An international jury will select the three fellows. Jury members include Guus Beumer (General and Artistic Director, Het Nieuwe Instituut), Revital Cohen (artist, Revital Cohen and Tuur van Balen), Cooking Sections (spatial practitioners, Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe), Elaine Gan (artist-scholar, Faculty Fellow at the Center for Experimental Humanities, NYU) and Christina Sharpe (Professor of Humanities at York University and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University). The jury meeting will be chaired by Marina Otero Verzier (Director of Research, Het Nieuwe Instituut). More information about the jury members will be announced in the coming weeks.