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.




In 2016 the school won the Call for Research Projects launched by the Ministry of Culture and Communication and created a research unit Art & Society to start at the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year.

In the context of developping research at ENSA Dijon, a work issue concerning the relationship between Art & Society emerged in 2015-2016. It is based first of all on the Research and Creation workshops (Documentary Arts and Fuck Patriarcat) as well as the project entitled Nouveaux Commanditaires in collaboration with the artist Olivier Mosset. Parallel to this, since November 2015, ENSA Dijon signed a partnership agreement with the University of Burgundy Franche-Comté and the CNRS (represented by the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Dijon). In the context of this partnership, ENSA Dijon and the MSH Dijon decided to collaborate on their research programmes.  


This research unit is naturally interested in the processes of creation in which the citizen is at the centre of artistic production and gives a new role to the work. It is especially interested in procedures that:


Question the notion of authorship.

  • Putting into perspective the dimension of both artistic and activist practices.
  • Showing the works outside the white cube of an exhibition space.
  • Creating interest in non-traditional modes of production: the Nouveaux Commanditaires protocol, art documentary for the Work, Migrations, Rural Life and archiving for the anti-patriarchal, feminist and queer programme.


Three research programmes are proposed:

  1. Nouveaux Commanditaires and Cohabiting with the Living
  2. Documentary Practices and Ecosophy of Art
  3. Creating an archive that is anti-patriarchal, feminist and queer: artistic practices, militant practices and scientific research


Partner Institutes:

  • Centre of Action and Research in Contemporary Art in Dijon (ENSA Dijon, the Consortium Art Centre, FRAC Burgundy and Dijon’s Fine Arts Museum)
  • Fondation de France
  • The Nouveaux Commanditaires in France and Europe (Society of Nouveaux Commanditaires);
  • ENSA Nancy;
  • Bibracte, European Archaeological Centre
  • Association for Oral Heritage in Burgundy


Scientific Partners:

Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Dijon;

Laboratoire ARTeHIS – Archéologie, Terre, Histoire;

Centre Georges Chevrier;

CESAER – Centre of Economics and Applied Sociology in Agricultural and Rural Spaces.


Programme 1: The Nouveaux Commanditaires and Cohabiting with the Living


Headed by Estelle Zhong (PhD in Art History)

Associated workshop: Nouveaux Commanditaires and Cohabiting with the Living


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, within the framework of Nouveaux Commanditaires. Over time, this farm will become a ‘daughter’ of ENSA Dijon.


This atypical commission takes the form of an act of renewal: the renewal of creation within a specific territory and with its key participants, but also one of all youth and of daily life, in a rural and natural environment that is less and less familiar. Creation in this place situated in the middle of the countryside represents, from this point of view, an opportunity to question our relation to nature and to invent perhaps new ways of entering into relation with it.


Thus Hameau Farm represents a kind of laboratory to experiment on the most pressing questions of our times: in this context of “the extinction of experience” of nature, but also the instability concerning our very perception of nature. What conditions, measures, knowledge is necessary to reinvent rich and complex relations with the living? We take as our point of departure the theory that it is not only the living which is in crisis today, but our relations to it. The ecological crisis is also a crisis of awareness towards the living.


The research will be organised around 2 key moments, 2 study days at the end of each semester.


  • It is a question of first clarifying the dimension of political utopia in the commission of Hameau Farm. This will be done through the question of art’s participation as the driver of the experiment and changing political forms. In particular we will confront the model of participation in work within the Nouveaux Commanditaires and the political imagination which is underlying other collaborative initiatives seeking to reinvent forms of doing and living together.
  • In the course of the second study day, we will put to the test the theory according to which the concept of countryside constitutes a key notion to be reinvested in order to revitalize our relations to the living, in as much as it designates at the same time a specific form of modern sensibility (through the medium of landscape painting) and a knowable object at the crossroads of natural and social sciences (i.e. Ecology, Geography, Environmental History).    


Programme 2: Work, Migrations, Rural Life


Headed by Philippe Bazin (artist, ENSA Dijon)

Associated workshop: Representations of the Foreign, Documentary Arts


Faced with a world that has become more and more globalised, the rural world seems to offer in opposition a kind of stability. Yet, as we well know, this world has already been subjected for some time to productivity-based imperatives and international speculation, which recent current affairs seem to echo. This research project adheres to the intersection of three realities which may draw new possibilities: « migrations, work and rural life ».

Who are the new inhabitants of the countryside? What are their lifestyles? What new experiences of the world do they produce? Which migrants have recently installed there and why? How is the landscape transforming? What new forms of resistance are people adopting locally in order not to endure the cultural models imposed on them? What gestures are observed and arise from their disappearance in news coverage which could form a basis of reflection for a future in which they will become necessary once again?


It is a question of thinking about a critical attitude in relation to current events, and to work on what remains, the reliefs, the relation to history, to archives, to the word, on what information is not seen or which is not spoken about.


In which perspective can these topical issues be examined? We propose as a somewhat theoretical backdrop the idea of « ecosophy in art » understood as « the concern of reworking an earth that is humanly habitable » (Félix Guattari). Thus to speak about an « ecosophy in art » would consist in reintroducing into art work on the inter-relations between ecology, society, politics, mind-sets as well as the desire to act on them. How to inhabit the earth? How can an artist have a key role to play in this habitat, not in terms of proposing a representation of what exists with the goal of creating new objects, but to propose an aesthetic relation to the world that involves as a consequence the considerations mentioned above? It will be about working on the relationships to economic and social realities, through art, and working on the relationships to nature and to the environment through art, and also to work through the psyche, through subjectivity, towards the production of new realities.


The artist Claire Angelini has replied favourably to our request in proposing a residential work project for at least one year, The Outsider in the Morvan. Here is a brief description of this work: For me “The Outsider in the Morvan will be developped in different ways. It will be inscribed first in this long time period which evokes geography, history and archaeology in the same movement. It will be revealed in the folding and unfolding of the land. It will be dependent on the economy and geology unique to this region (the forest in particular). It will hide in the wanderings of ancient and more recent anthropology, in the not-said which inhabits and haunts collective memory. Finally my research will be linked to current events, those which every day involve the active citizens of this area next to our foreign contemporaries. »


Programme 3: Create an archive: artistic practices, militant practices and scientific research


Headed by Vanessa Desclaux (lecturer, ENSA Dijon)

Associated workshop: Fuck Patriarcat


In the context of this research programme, we seek to consider the issues surrounding the patrimonialism of social and political struggles, particularly those linked to feminists and sexual and gender minorities, in the context of the city of Dijon and the wider region to which the city belongs. This approach has led us to meet different players involved in these struggles locally, in a more or less recent historical context (1960s to today): the Maloka association and the self-run movement of the Tanneries, the Dijon Group of Homosexual Liberation (GLH). In addition to which there is the convivial place of Diane and Hadrien, the Salon MU Body Arts, a space dedicated to tattooing, piercing and physical suspension which the organizers consider as part of a global movement towards the repossession of bodies inherited from queer struggles. These encounters involving students and researchers have allowed the initiation of different approaches to the archive, in collecting the words of militants and questioning the role of an institution like an art school in the preservation of this social and political heritage.

With a research approach to the patrimonialization of struggles from within the institution and the practices of an art school, it is necessary to invent new processes for pedagogy and research. We need to question in which personal and collective necessity our approach to research echoes. We wondered how to produce the material conditions for a feminist and anti-patriarchal involvement within the scope of our research. How can students, teachers, artists and researchers involved in the project position themselves vis-à-vis militant practices?


In 2017-2018, within the framework of this research programme, we will continue to work at the place of essential articulation between the struggles of patrimonialization, feminist pedagogy and artistic practice with the aim of transforming the space and institution of the art school, carrying it towards an anti-patriarchal, feminist and queer future.