EKP Excellence in Research Award 2020


Master Institute of Visual Cultures (MIVC) part of theSt. Joost School of Art & Design and SDK Vastgoed are delighted to launch the EKP Excellence in Research Award 2020 - an annual award of € 2,500 for the best graduate research at master level. Throughout this remarkable year, the graduate nominees have shown the regenerative and enriching power of art in the construction of other views and representations of the world through the development of research-led interdisciplinary creative practices.

The EKP Excellence in Research Award indeed translates into the acknowledgment of students’ calibres to progress original ideas into stimulating works of art. But it is also a way of emphasizing the valuable influence of artists and designers in the search for new ideas and innovations that can transform the world into whose core is composed of solidarity and integrity.

Why do we reward research?

Within the arts, boundaries are pushed in terms of how the world is can be interpreted and interacted with. It has the capacity to make us see beyond our own limits and allows new ways of looking and thinking about a life that is distinct to the given social, political or environmental archetypes of society. This freedom fuels consciousness, which further sparks creative imagination; the starting point of regenerative solutions that communicate more deeply than written words, nourish discussions, and encourages analytical and critical thinking – in essence, contributing to the transformation of societies. Research is an indispensable element in this progression.

The programme accentuates the impact of our student’s participation in effectuating change in the world. With the capacity to co-create knowledge, encourage critical thinking and attitudes of leadership, and raise the understanding of art and design as a powerful field that offers us another world view, the maxim of MIVC, “Be the future of something else”, is hence a good reflection of students’ ambitions. It reinstates the value of research to fulfil them beyond their time at the institute - but as actors of change in society.

‘’The global events that took over 2020 were not only what caused this year to be exceptional - the profound reflections and processes of analysis they provoked were necessary to highlight the complexities embedded in our world’s interconnectedness, stimulating further the urgency of inquiry regarding our systems, and push for their reconstruction. Having expressed the importance of an interwoven practice of artistic research, it is with great honour and excitement to launch the EKP Excellence in Research Award this year’’

Una Henry, Head of MIVC,

The Nominees

The nominees for the EKP Excellence in Research Award 2020 are:

Minke Nouwens – Glass But Also

Inspired by her inability to express her experiences working with the materiality of glass during her residency in a local factory in Jinxi, Minke investigates and evaluates the common assumption that visual phenomena resist verbal logic to answer her research question: “how can I write-as-glass?” - and hence further understand her own cohabitation with this entity. She investigates how different words shed light on different facets of language-space in the quest to write-as-glass.

Siyu Zhang - Taboo Term – ASMR: A visual story about the prohibition of ASMR in China

The tech capital is at the core of Siyu’s work. Involving Chinese social media, the live streaming industry and the shifts to society driven by technology, she explains the banning of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) videos in China in the context of the rising stream culture in China.

Nikita Narayan – Goods, Gods and Goddesses

Situating her work in Begum Bazar found in the old city of Hyderabad, Nikita explores how space and gender narratives coexist and help conserve each other. Complemented by interviews of people visiting and occupying the space, her work posits how social hierarchies and practices gain ground. Through generating other interconnections, her work ultimately hopes to express how the organization of space links to how power structures itself.

Yanxian Zhao – Sheng! A Genealogy of Trauma

Sheng! is a cross-media project about trauma and legacies, love, and violence. Comprised of photography, experimental film and sculpture, her work draws on her own experience and tells stories of women’s life cycles in the past 100 years. All, in the quest for a better understanding of culture, history and the present that she belongs to.

Glass But Also
Minke Nouwens Glass But Also
Taboo Term - ASMR A visual story about the prohibition of ASMR in China
Siyu Zhang Taboo Term - ASMR A visual story about the prohibition of ASMR in China
Sheng! A Genealogy of Trauma
Yanxian Zhao Sheng! A Genealogy of Trauma
Goods, Gods and Goddesses
Nikita Narayan Goods, Gods and Goddesses

The selection critera

The nominees were selected based on the relevance and importance of their research questions to society and the challenges that we face, the strong articulation of the connection between art and design and with knowledge from other perhaps distant, but highly related fields and the deep engagement with the investigative process. The selection was made by external experts: David Haines, Janice McNab, Sjef van Gaalen and Silvio Lorusso who convened the Graduation Research Hub. 

The Jury

The EKP Excellence in Research Award jury is comprised of Angelique Spaninks, director and curator at MU Hybrid Art House located in Eindhoven, and Professor Dr. Peter de Kock, director of Pandora Intelligence and Professor of Practice in Crime & Safety at Jheronimus Academy of Data Science in Den Bosch.

EKP Urban Planning

While its genesis is the celebration of research and creativity, the EKP Excellence in Research Award also originated from the collaboration between St. Joost School of Art and Design, and area developer SDK Vastgoed. The transformation of the EKP site in the Bossche Spoorzone is on track to become a creative biotope where a sustainability-oriented cluster of the art school, creative businesses, cultural events, and residential spaces will not only facilitate the sustainable, inclusive and knowledgeable growth of the area.