Art & Design

ENSA Dijon


Art & Society Research Unit (RU)

Created in collaboration with the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (MSH) at the University of Burgundy, the research unit (RU) ’Art & Society’ organises all research activities within ENSA Dijon.

With the centres of Pedagogy, Student Life and International Relations, it supplies the support, be it human, material, financial, technical, or institutional, that allows for putting into place research and works towards sharing, valuing and recognising research that takes place in art and design at the heart of the school.

Its members include all of the school’s teachers–artists, designers and theoreticians–who are engaged in research activities in parallel with their teaching duties and their individual and independent professional, artistic, design and theoretical practices. Research thus reflects the artistic media (design, drawing, painting, performance, photography, sound, video, volume, etc.) and forms of knowledge (art history, philosophy, aesthetics, cultural theory) practiced in the school.


Research in art schools: invention, experimentation, sharing

Although art and science–whether human and social sciences, formal sciences (logic, mathematics) and natural sciences (physics, biology, etc.) or engineering sciences–differ in their internal criteria and their own aims, they have never been alien to each other. Research is consubstantial with them, and both constitute activities that are based on the logic of experimentation and invention.

In the course of their history, art and science (and technology) have never ceased to be challenged or even provoked by each other: from geometry, physics or the theory of emotions, yesterday, to contemporary epistemologies stemming from environmental sciences (ecology), digital technologies and their anthropological stakes, such as those of gender studies and postcolonial approaches to theories of culture and domination.

Because the questioning of the forms of restitution of research belongs to the very process of research, and while today, in the scientific world, new forms of approaches and restitution of research are emerging (practice-based-research, etc.), the Research Unit “Research on the environment” is also concerned with the questioning of the forms of restitution of research. While relying on the established academic forms of sharing research results (colloquia, publications), the “Art and Society” Research Unit initiates, encourages and accompanies the invention of new, often hybrid, forms specific to art school research: exhibitions, devices, collective works, etc.

Axis Research

The research at the core of the research unit Art & Society is organised around two structural themes, transversal and multi-disciplinary. These axes, which are not mutually exclusive, allow for the identification the domains in which members of the RU situate their research activity.

Axis 1 – Materials, mediA, intermedialities

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).

Axis 2 – Crises, contexts, combats

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 that respect, artistic and design practices cross-reference forms of knowledge and militant practices (ecology, feminism). Hence this particular insistence on 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.


Research Programmes

1 / Urban Mutations

Headed by: Laurent Matras, Hélène Robert, Leila Toussaint
Linked with: ARC MUUR – Research & Creation Workshop Urban Mutations (headed by Laurent Matras, Hélène Robert, Leïla Toussaint)

The transdisciplinary research programme Urban Mutations is an extension of the Bachelor and Masters teaching delivered by the ENSA Dijon Design Option team (studio projects, classes, ARC, workshops). It brings together designers, architects, scenographers, landscape designers, artists and theoricians with all areas mixed up in communal space of thought and imagination, of proposition and urban experimentation strongly rooted in the ecological, political and social realities of cities in the anthropocene age.

Currently humanity is affected by an ecological crisis – pollution, dwindling natural resources, the destruction of ecosystems, the disappearance of biodiversity, climatic warming and disruption, proliferation of extreme episodes of drought and heatwaves – along with the economic, social and political consequences. These force us to radically rethink not only modes of production and consumption but also our way of living and especially living in a city, namely to produce and consume space and time. It questions our use of space and our daily choreographies.

Cities, particularly vulnerable to the effects of environmental crisis, are partly responsible for it. It means that cities can also be the place for local solutions to this global problem.

Design, for a long time confined to the sphere of marketing, today constitutes a collective open to thought, practices and mechanisms at the intersection of research and creation, working, with the same sensory perception (affordance), on the representations and uses of our environment, like vectors to transform urban space.

To think about and know a city as a completely separate ecosystem, to take care of the plant and animal biodiversity it shelters, to promote urban agriculture aimed at alimentary autonomy without endangering the environment, and more globally rethinking the relations between city/nature, that implies also thinking about the activities and socio-economic temporalities of a city. Like slow cities which are spreading all over the world, cities should also incorporate soft mobility (bicycles) and non-carbon ways of moving whose current growth is revealing.

Eco-design thinks about the environmental impact of the materials and forms it implements, extolling low-tech and DIY, self-help and reuse, in inspiring vernacular practices. This relation to the work of the material sustains a relation to space by its investment of zones left vacant or without quality by modernisation or economic crisis: industrial wastelands and urban interstices can be places of transitory urbanism where can be experimented other manners of living collectively in the city, and a parking lot or frontage becomes through a micro-intervention (urban acupuncture) spaces of urban tactics like so many gestures – light and joyous, temporary and festive –aiming to reconquer the streets.

Faced with the tendency to standardisation, functional uniformity, social homogeneity and in the end to the sterilisation of public privatised spaces increasingly devoted to commerce and to consumption under CCTV, it is necessary to imagine inventive forms to live in the city that are likely to revitalise it.

In addition, everywhere can be heard, increasingly loudly, the hopes of city dwellers for a renewed urban democracy – a right to the city – in which citizens, either with collaboration or participation, become actively implicated in projects implemented by private and/or public actors, concerning their living space, be it a street, place, neighbourhood, living place, or even a place which has not been assigned a function in advance and which is reinvented according to use.

The idea of a desirable city – where the notion of pleasure is not annexed to consumerism – because to be equal (open to all) requires in effect to take into account diversity and the unforeseeable uses and users, be it by age, gender or social and cultural origin. New urban design practices are nourished thus by the input of contemporary critical theories (feminist theories and gender criticism, post-colonial theories, care theories). The Urban Mutations programme follows in the wake of numerous multidisciplinary collectives reuniting urbanists, videomakers, designers, architects, philosophers, scenographers, sociologists and landscape architect (Bellastock, EXYZT, le Bruit du frigo, Encore heureux) with whom they will regularly work.

Experimentation in situ, workshops, conferences, publications – including original translations of inescapable Anglo-Saxon authors – will make up the research activities of this programme.

To de-focus the viewpoint and deepen the explorations, the Urban Mutations programme draws on the partnership between ENSA Dijon and the School of Art and Design of the Technical University of Hubei in Wuhan, China, by putting in place cross-worshops.


2 / Programme Painting and Colour

Headed by: Alain Bourgeois, Anne Brégeaut, Bruno Rousselot
Linked ARC: Contemporary Painting Practices (Alain Bourgeois, Anne Brégeaut & Bruno Rousselot)

Starting out as a drawing school, ENSA Dijon has developed at its core a research programme centred on current painting practices.

This programme follows in the wake of teaching delivered to Bachelor and Masters students (theory and workshops, ARC and workshops). It draws on the spaces and structures that the school have devoted to painting and colour: The Painting Workshop, the European Colour Observatory (ECO), which maps the relation between scientific theory of colour and contemporary artistic practices.

Closely linking historical review, theoretical expression and experimental practice, the activities of the research programme “Painting and Colour” is open and multi-form: invitations of 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 the historical and current context of painting (Michèle Martel and Bernard Marcadé), workshops with invited artists (Amélie Bertrand, Christopher Cuzin or Elodie Boutry), student exhibitions in professional art venues.

3 / Residency programme for research and creation in sound arts

Headed by: Lambert Dousson (ENSA Dijon) et Nicolas Thirion (ici l’onde, centre de création musicale)
Linked ARC: Arts du son

Founded on the partnership between ENSA Dijon and the Centre de Création Musicale Ici l’onde (, dir. Nicolas Thirion), this residency programme for research and creation in sound arts continues the theoretical and practical teaching given to Bachelor and Masters students, as well as the ARC Sound Arts.

Drawing on the resources made available by both institutional partners, this programme gives an artist (musician or non-musician) and/ or a designer the possibility to develop and exhibit their research-creation work whose focal point is sound phenomenon, uniting artistic practices and theoretical know-how, favouring 3 perspectives narrowly defined from each other:

1. Questioning the genres of music, their specific characters and respective histories, but also and especially their porosity and reciprocal deconstructions. The reflexivity engendered by the confrontation between contemporary music (writing based), experimental music (based on sound manipulation, be it electronic or not) and pop music (not those from industrial production of mainstream hits), and the enriching theory of pop music studies, allows for a critical look at multiple genealogies of sound arts (John Cage to Pierre Schaeffer, the Fluxus field recordings to Alvin Lucier’s ambient, Max Neuhaus to La Monte Young, Karlheinz Stockhausen to Eliane Radigue, David Bowie to Aphex Twin, etc), and to renew questioning on the relation between writing, performance and recording, between professional and amateur practice, from high tech to low tech.

2. The Anthropology of Listening: Listening is physical attitude and social practice mediated by (sub)cultures and audiovisual technology. As the most important developments of sound studies indicate, listening constitutes a way of knowing the historical and technical structures of cultures in their aesthetic dimensions as much as social and political ones. Reconsidering what Jonathan Sterne called “audiovisual litany” (Une histoire de la modernité sonore), it is the relation between sound and visual (sound in plastic arts) that are probed in terms of not only the eyes but the ears.

3. Critique of sound design: Standardisation of feelings through the capitalism of record labels, and capturing attention through design sound, implied as much in trade issues as security ones, invites critical thinking about the manner in which artistic practices can restart our tools of perception: how to un-tame listening tamed by design conceived as product decoration?

Held partially within ENSA Dijon, the residency programme of research-creation in sound arts, which this first year will allow to define its contours, includes where the element of research-creation, properly speaking, is expressed through teaching, and allows the artist in residence to exhibit their work.

Research projects 2023-2024

Sensory infiltrations


date: winter 2024
Scientific Leadership and Organisation: Jean-Sébastien Poncet and Nathalie Elemento

The extreme heat of summers 2022, 2023, along with their devastating effects (drought, wildfires, disappearing glaciers, melting pack ice) sound an alarm regarding the hype around climatic deregulation. Water is rare and issues as yet undisclosed several years ago occupy increasingly more media space today.

How to share access to water fairly? What value should be given to wetlands? How and why might we un-waterproof artificial flooring? What to do about slowing the water cycle? These questions penetrate civil society, from urban planners whose practices are under question, notably by the ZAN law (Zéro Artificialisation Nette), to ecological militants whose opposition to the production-driven model of agriculture has recently focussed on mega-basins, to the decision to dissolve the movement Le Soulèvements de la Terre.

Uniting artists, designers, curators, landscape architects, urban planners, institutional actors and militants, this study day will be organised into 4 roundtables:

1. Water Catchment: understanding the issues of territorial water cycles from the perspective of arts and sciences

2. Viewpoints on city water

3. Sharing common ground

4. Un-waterproofing, but how? Sensitive engineering.


Female worker memories


date: Spring 2024
Artistic direction: Marta Álvarez (University of Franche-Comté) and Pascale Séquer (ENSA Dijon) Museological Assistance: Tatiana Salazar Museographical Assistance: Mathilde Foignot, Vincent Lauth, Laurina Nice, Eugénie Tirole, Blandine Urlacher.
Photographers: Viviane Aymonin, Romane Buisset, Bernard Faille, Quentin Fumey, Juliana Herrán García, Marie Vincianne Maca, Laura Martinez Agudelo, Alexandra Mérienne, Laureano Montero, Elena Loredana Negut, Florence Schall.
Project undertaken with the support of: DRAC Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, ANR RITM UBFC, Laboratoire CRIT EA3224, Service Science, Arts et Cultures, University of Franche-Comté, UFR SLHS, University of Franche-Comté

“Female Worker Memories” falls within a research project between ENSA Dijon and the University of Besançon begun in 2021 “Memories in Movement,” whose aim was to contribute to determining the place of women in social movements in the Burgundy Franche-Comté region (1967-1985), until now communicated in a short film Et pourtant elles étaient là (And yet they were there), and the “Female Workers” exhibition.

This project follows the path opened by certain researchers to concentrate on the study of cultural actions at the heart of these movements. Thus in the first instance questions are asked about the female presence at the core of the Cinema Medvedkine (Besançon, Sochaux) in initiatives such as the Rhodiacéta library or through links established with other militant movements (like between Lip workers and the feminist video-makers that founded the Simone de Beauvoir Audiovisual Centre in 1982).

This research work is also meant to be a work of memory based on artistic creation. It seeks to prioritise intergenerational exchanges between women and students that join our research team and artistic production. The short film Et pourtant elles étaient là crosses the voices and perspectives of generations in questioning the militancy and the place of women in the decades 1960-1970, questions which also lie at the heart of a photographic exhibition.

Finally this project is the story of encounters at the heart of an interdisciplinary team of researchers (photography, anthropology, film studies) wishing to pursue questions around the representation of work: to preserve and transmit memories of the struggles of the 60s and 70s to those of today, and also make visible the faces of female workers and their experiences. How to take into account the changes in working conditions and their impact on these workers? How to find a position as artists and researchers working with representation?

This thinking about female workers of our time is put into perspective with talks produced by hegemonic media, and it integrates research done in the framework of the ARC Action Comics at ENSA Dijon and in the study days on Super-Heroes and Heroines organised by the University of Besançon and Dijon (November 2022). How to express these injunctions to the extraordinary and all-powerful, omnipresent in mass-produced objects, with the world of work, especially insecure jobs? Would female workers recognise themselves as super-heroines of daily life, or can they provide the key to deconstruct this dominant discourse and construct others against hegemony?

We will continue this work by putting the past in dialogue with the present for this region’s female workers. Do they know about the struggles of the past? How do they perceive the memories of female workers? Who are the workers from Franche-Comté at the time of delocalisation and the dawn of a possible resettlement of factories?

Expressed through a screening and debate of the short film Et pourtant elles étaient là and an exhibition of the portraits of female workers, their struggles and their spaces, in the buildings and gardens of ENSA Dijon, this trans-disciplinary study day will be the occasion to return to research carried out these past years for the project “Memories in Movement” and to open new perspectives for the years to come


Making research public

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 of ARCs on offer, along with the richness of the offering and 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 conferences, 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, 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).

Recent study days

  • “Food Cultures. Ecological Transition and Public Spaces”, 2023
  • “HEARTH. The Aesthetics of Anthropocene”, 2023
  • “Of the Group. Experiences and Fictions (with Olivia Rosenthal)”, 2022
  • “Cross-experience. Relations with the Living (with Julie Desprairies)”, 2022
  • “Music of the Future: sound technology, history, politics”, 2021
  • “Contemporary Agoras. Alternative processes of construction of public space”, 2019
  • “Figures of the foreigner, archives and current events”, 2018
  • “On Sex Work”, 2018
  • “Making Together”, 2017
  • “Non-mixed, self-defence”, 2017
  • “Back to the Land: reanimating our sensitivity to the living”, 2017
  • “Contemporary Drawing”, 2016
  • “Biomimicry: Science, Design and Architecture”, 2015
  • “What Michel Foucault does to photography”, 2014


Latest publications

  • Jean-Claude Gens (dir.), in collaboration with Pierre Ghislain, L’esthétique environnementale entre Orient et Occident, 2021.
  • Lambert Dousson (ed.), Contemporary Agoras. Design, democracy and alternative practices of public space, Paris, Éditions Loco, 2020.
  • Manola Antonioli (ed.) with the collaboration of Jean-Marc Chomaz and Laurent Karst, Biomimétisme, Paris, Éditions Loco, 2017.
  • Philippe Bazin (ed.), Ce que Michel Foucault fait à la photographie, Setrogran, 2016.
  • Manola Antonioli (ed.), Machines de guerre urbaines, Paris, Éditions Loco, 2015.


Latest exhibitions

  • “Sound&Vision vs. Vision&Sound”(org. Jean-Christophe Desnoux, teacher ENSA Dijon, Nicolas Thirion, artistic director of Why Note, Centre de création musicale & artiste associé, ARC « Arts du Son », Frédéric Buisson, Artistic director of Interface Gallery), Dijon, 8 April – 15 May 2021.
  • “River of no return” (org. Bruno Rousselot), Interface gallery, Dijon 23 March–20 April 2019
  • “Painting in apnea” (org. Xavier Douroux–Director of Consortium Dijon, Pierre Tillet – ENSA Dijon and Astrid Handa-Gagnard – Director of FRAC Bourgogne), Les Bains du Nord – FRAC Bourgogne, 2017.