Art & Design

ENSA Dijon


The research that takes place in Art Schools is characterised by specific elements inherent in the areas that they document: at ENSA the fields of Art and Space Design. These areas focus on challenges and questions at the intersection of issues that are artistic and aesthetic as well as being political, social or economic, in direct connection to problems in contemporary society.

The very term ‘research’ invokes today a number of questions in the area of art, and more particularly for art schools. If many key players from the art world, with artists at the forefront, consider that research is at work within the very process of creation, the teaching staff at an art school is faced with new questions concerning the place of research in their artistic or theoretical practices and in their approach to pedagogy.

The introduction of research practices within the heart of the school represents a fantastic opportunity to conceive new forms of collaboration with researchers whose different approaches will lead to new forms of reflexivity between our practices. This openness towards research practices is also an opportunity to reconsider our approach to pedagogical training in placing research at the centre.

ENSA Dijon has now developed three key research areas which will become the cornerstone of our identity:

  • Art & Society (Research unit composed of three programmes in collaboration with the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Dijon)
  • Painting & Colour
  • Urban Mutations

These research areas are dedicated to a fundamental question in the fields of art and design, in close link with social sciences. The challenges are those of sharing knowledge, soft skills, know-how while advancing emerging ways of working and tools opening up ways of thinking about problems and formulating questions.

This research is articulated and supported by certain Research and Creation workshops, other themed workshops, seminars, study days and public talks. Given its capacity for enlargement, for active involvement and inventiveness, research at an art school is unique and precious. No certainty: only experimentation.



The research unit (RU) ‘Art & Society’ organises all research activities within ENSA Dijon.
In close collaboration with the centres of Pedagogy and International Relations, it supplies the support, be it human, material, financial, technical, or institutional, that allows for putting into place research and work towards sharing, valuing and recognising research that takes place in art and design at the heart of the school.
Its members are made up of all the school’s teaching staff – artists, designers, theorists – involved in research activities, in parallel to their teaching mission and in addition to their practices, be they professional, artistic, related to design and theory, individual or independent. Thus research reflects artistic media (design, drawing, painting, performance, photography, sound, video, volume etc) and forms of knowledge (art history, philosophy, aesthetics and culture theory) practised at the school.


If art and science – whether human and social sciences, formal sciences (logic, mathematics), natural sciences (physics, biology etc) or even engineering – differ in their internal criteria and their specific ends, they have never been strangers to one another.
Research is integral to them both, and one like the other is made up of activities originating from the logic of experimentation and invention.
Throughout their histories, art and science (and technology) have never ceased being challenged, perhaps even provoked, by one another : from geometry, physics, or the theory of emotions, yesterday, to contemporary epistemologies deriving from sciences concerning the environment (ecology), digital technology and their anthropological issues, like those of gender studies and postcolonial theories of culture and domination.
Because questions concerning the forms of presenting research findings belong to the very process of research and while today, in the scientific world, new types of approach and research findings are emerging (practice-based research etc), the Art & Society research unit, while relying on academic forms consecrated to communal results of research (conferences, publications), will initiate, encourage and accompany the invention of new forms, often hybrid, specific to research in an art school : exhibitions, presentations, collective works.


From 2016-2019 (coordinated by Vanessa Desclaux), following the creation in 2016 of this RU, the research at ENSA was structured around several multi-year research axes narrowly hinged on teaching through the ARCs :
• Axis 1 : New Patrons (ARC NC)
• Axis 2 : Work, migrations, rurality (headed by Philippe Bazin / ARC Representations of the Foreign – Documentary Arts)
• Axis 3 : Creation of an anti-patriarchal, feminist, queer archive : artistic and militant practices and scientific research (headed by Vanessa Desclaux / ARC Fuck Patriarcat)

Two axes outside this RU :
• Axis Painting and Colour (ARC Way (s) of Painting – see below)
• Axis Urban Mutations (ARC MUUR – see below)
In the coming four year period 2020-2023 (coordinated by Lambert Dousson) the research at the core of the research unit Art & Society is organised around two thematic structures, transversal and multi-disciplinary. These axes, which are not mutually exclusive, allow for the identification the domains in which the members of the RU situate their activity of research.


This axis questions the relations of media to their own specificity (procedures, methods, histories) and their own identity, as well as to the types of alterities that question them (hybrid forms and translatability of languages; relation of learned forms / popular forms, new technologies ; relation of art / culture ; autonomy and heteronomy of art ; questions around exhibitions).


This axis addresses the question of art and design in light of their relations with knowledge and power, in as much as they interrogate practices and presentations of visibility and invisibility, eventually generators of violence. In this perspective, artistic practices and those of design cross-reference forms of knowledge and militant practices (ecology, feminism).
Where does this particular insistence come from concerning the question of inclusion, of place (urban spaces, rural worlds, the margins, migrations), and their contrary (non-places, uprooting etc).

At the core of both axes can be organised one-off events (publication, conferences, exhibition) or even research programmes on a larger scale.


Transforming an abandoned farm, situated in the heart of Auxois, into a place of learning and artistic creation : this is not a utopia from the 1970s, but a contemporary artistic commission, supported by the Community of the Communes des Terres d’Auxois, as part of New Patrons. Over time, this farm will become a ‘daughter’ of ENSA Dijon.
In 2018-2019, this research programme aimed to experiment with the process of unique mediation that the NC protocol set in operation. How might citizens, confronted with social issues or the development of a territory, be allowed to involve contemporary artists in their preoccupations by giving them a commission ?
Through the implementation of a series of situations (what is often called workshops or collaborative working), we sought to define the procedures that are at work : How is a commissioning group formed ? How does it work ? What link does this group have with authority, history, legitimacy, money, or art ? These situations united researchers, artists, students, teachers, mediators and representatives from civic society. In the image of a NC group and thanks to its homogenous character, it is a question of inventing circumstances that will allow members to work together, on equal footing.
These situations were arranged around two topics :
• The Narrative : who conceives it ? Who writes it and what wording is used ? Does the terminology, the jargon, used in these projects, in the discussion, form an exclusive language in which the place accorded to the other and to the imaginary can be questioned ?
• The Request : To place an order is a commitment that combines notions of desire, willingness, empowerment, necessity, legitimacy, responsibility and duty. How to establish links with society, establish a constructive dialogue with external bodies, with artistic issues ?
The return of this ongoing programme is expected to take the form of video-documents, texts and performance work. In 2019-2020 the research programme NC will be organised around the presentation of research findings and public transmission of materials developed last year. In the form of workshops, a research action will address the following :
• An inventory of materials created and collected in 2018-2019 ;
• A workshop on the organisation of materials actively involving a researcher (archivist or historian) to lead a historical workshop in the midst of being written : how to make history communal, how to archive ?
• A workshop on the way of re-es-tablishing and transmitting research in an innovative and creative way. This workshop will rely on the presence of a researcher (playwright or artist). How to conceive a moment destined to transmit knowledge and share a plurality of reflection ?
• The organisation practises feedback sessions, in other words conferences.


Headed by Lambert Dousson, Laurent Karst, Laurent Matras, Hélène Robert, Jeanpierre Tixier (ENSA Dijon)

The research programme Urban Mutations aims to realise, analyse, and propose alternatives to our world in transition.
Never has the influence of humans on the biosphere reached such an impact. Concepts such as the Anthropocene era or Ecosophy, inviting an alternative to anthropocentric perspectives, help to enliven us daily in teaching future designers and artists.
Urban mutations are happening. Cities change, urbanism is diffuse, concentrated around communication hubs, business centres, technology centres etc. Industrial land is metamorphosing and is involved in transformations structured around cultural and ecological challenges, around research on the quality of habitation. Designers, artists, architects, landscape artists are sought out regarding urban renewal on various levels, both political and aesthetic at the same time. Their cooperation is required in public spaces and in eco-neighbourhoods and their
activity is increasingly summoned as participants in civic life.
Halfway between the world of art and that of production and the economy, designers of space are often confronted by the necessity of repositioning themselves in relation to institutions (to broaden the field of their speakers and partners) on the one hand. And on the other hand, the necessity to question their practices in relation to spatial and temporal transformations and social changes in urban areas.
These new challenges demand,ntherefore, a cross-disciplinary way of thinking : how can designers and artists become involved in an efficient manner in the mutations of urban spaces following their own imperatives and methods ? How can urban space (in the political, aesthetic and social dimensions implied) become once again a venue for the involvement of designers and artists, in close connection with theorists, researchers, institutions and associations involved in the same area of experimentation ?
Several research topics and ARC workshops will contribute to or support this research programme :
• ARC MUUR – Research and Creation Workshop Urban Mutations (headed by Laurent Matras and Jean-Pierre Tixier)
• ARC Art-Science Duality (headed by Laurent Karst)

Headed by Alain Bourgeois, Anne Brégeaut, Bruno Rousselot ( ENSA Dijon )

ENSA Dijon is inspired by its past as a drawing school – in the 18th century – to defend a practice that it considers today as one of the most contemporary and visionary in the field of art : painting.
This research is based on several founding elements :


The multitude of practices and approaches to painting provides an opportunity to each of the 4 teaching staff involved in this ARC to teach and experiment with students one facet of their speciality.
• Alain Bourgeois : The question of heritage, relation of the painting as object to architecture.
• Anne Brégeaut : Questions about representation and narration in painting.
• Bruno Rousselot : Painting Today.

This ARC is a place of resource which opens itself to all pictorial challenges : painting materials and their history, media, surfaces, light, colour, gesture etc as well as to their links with other issues in relation to the world in which we live.
This questioning centred on painting is the motor behind these exchanges. It will be complemented by :
• a large number of invited international artists in the presence of one of their works (Olivier Mosset, Pierre Mabille, Eva Nielsen, Philippe Mayaux and Yan-Pei Ming).
• Talks and theory classes on history and the current context of painting (Michèle Martel and Bernard Marcadé).
• Workshops with invited artists (Amélie Bertrand, Christopher Cuzin or Elodie Boutry).
• Trips (Dole Fine Arts Museum, FRAC Bescancon, Biennale of Venice).
• Student Exhibitions at the school with Alain Coulange, or in a professional art venue (Exhibit Rivière Sans Retour) organised by Bruno Rousselot at Interface (March 23-April 20, 2019).
• Painting exhibition ‘La peinture en apnée’ (FRAC Burgundy 25 March-30 July 2017) curated by Xavier Douroux (Director of The Consortium Dijon), Pierre Tillet (ENSA Dijon and Art Critic) and Astrid Handa-Gagnard (Director of FRAC).

Headed by Anne Brégeaut and Bruno Rousselot

5 theory classes will be offered to complement the ARC Way (s) of Painting. They will allow the involvement of students in thinking about painting’s history and in current times linked with its social context.

• Outlaw : Discovery of artists and unique careers, outside the broad historical movements, neglected by history or having late or local recognition. These classes will lead to an understanding of art history as an ensemble of non-exhaustive, critical visions.
• Question of Painting : This class approaches different questions linked with painting – its demise is constantly announced, its relation to image, to materials, to objects and space : what is the status of painting today ? What is the place of the canvas within the field of painting ?
• Current Exhibition : It deals with exhibitions currently in Dijon, or France, or abroad in order to take a closer analytical look at what is happening today. How have the works been chosen, hung, etc ?
• Printed Painting: It concerns approaching techniques of printing like serigraphy, etching or digital printing and considering it as a tool of the painter, linked with questions of material, colour and gesture.
• American Painting from 1930 to today : American painting addresses in its specificity, its challenges and multiplicity and the simultaneity of its practices.


Put in place three years ago, this space allows teachers and students who chose to make this practice part of their personal research project, to invest in a place specifically dedicated to them. This place of practice and reflection is as devoted to production as it is exchanges and meetings on the theme of current pictorial practices.

Headed By Alain Bourgeois and Lionel Thenadey

At the heart of ENSA Dijon there is a research group which consists of the European Colour Observatory in contemporary art through the putting in place a network and the cartography of current artistic practices gathered from surveys with artists for whom colour presents a key issue. The aim of the project is to update and qualify relations maintained between the worlds of science and art, the area of painting touching these diverse fields of knowledge such as art history, nano-science, the science of information, semiology and linguistics. It consists in exploring and analysing variance, even the misunderstanding between theoretical sciences of colour and contemporary practices.
A website outlines the stages of research. ECO works in synergy with teaching staff from both art and spatial design, it collaborates with the university of Burgundy and develops partnerships with European schools within the context of Erasmus.


Research being a central activity at ENSA Dijon, the ARCs, seminars, study days, exhibitions, workshops are all an integral part of teaching and have as object, for some of them, the attribution of ECTS credits. The diversity in the 8 ARCs on offer, along with the richness of the offer and the frequency of workshops, which are shaped around external invited professionals (artists, designers, philosophers, anthropologists, researchers, writers, architects)
makes ENSA Dijon into a particularly attractive and lively place, in direct contact with the art world and the issues of our times. Study days and workshops, taking place over one or several days, allow a deeper understanding of theoretical, philosophical and/or social questions, and will lead to publications, conference proceedings, blogs, books and articles.
One goal is to generate, in collaboration with the centre for international relations (Emmanuel Monnier), international networking on these research subjects with places of research and creation throughout the world.
These intense moments in the life of an art school are also the high point in giving value to the research-creation inherent to questioning and challenges met at the crossroads of art, design and sciences (natural sciences and formal sciences, like human and social sciences).
More and more researchers are mindful and request an intersection between their research and questions with perspective artists who will bring them a viewpoint that is undeniably independent, visionary and complementary.

• “Contemporary Agoras : alternative ways to construct public space”, 2019
• “Foreign Figures, archives and current affairs”, 2018
• “On Sex Workers”, 2018
• “Let’s Do it together”, 2017
• “Non-Diversity, self-defence”, 2017
• “Back to the Land: revitalise our awareness of the Living”, 2017
• “Contemporary Design”, 2016
• “Biomimetism : Science, Design and Architecture”, 2015
• “What Michel Foucault does for Photography”, 2014

• Manola Antonioli (ed.) with the collaboration of Jean-Marc Chomaz and Laurent Karst, Biomimetisme, Paris, Editions Loco, 2017.
• Philippe Bazin (ed.), Ce que Michel Foucault fait à la photographie, Setrogran, 2016.
• Manola Antonioli (ed.), Machines de guerre urbaines, Paris, Editions Loco, 2015.


• “Rivière sans retour” (org. Bruno Rousselot), Galerie Interface, Dijon. March 23-20 April 2019.
• “La Peinture en apnée” (org. Xavier Douroux, Diector of the Consortium, Dijon), Pierre Tillet (ENSA Dijon) and Astrid Handa- Gagnard, Director , FRAC Burgundy ), Les Bains du nord-FRAC Burgundy , 2017.