Presence – CFP

Presence – CFP


Artistic Research | Performing Heterotopia study circle
invites proposals for contributions on the theme of


Artistic Research | Performing Heterotopia
Winter (Dis)symposium
March 2021
Distant and Dispersed

Download the CfP as PDF

We invite artists and researchers from all fields to take part in our artistic research circle, a migratory non-hierarchical group of international participants. We welcome participants from all geographical, artistic, cultural and academic contexts and backgrounds, both outside and within universities and other institutions. 

The circle is developed within the framework of Nordic Summer University, which consists of thematic study circles that meet twice a year on a three-year cycle. Our 2019–2021 cycle is called Artistic Research | Performing Heterotopia and this winter symposium will be the fifth of six symposia taking place during this time period. The circle aims to share ways artistic research can explore, experiment with, critique, create and perform heterotopias, which are spaces, temporalities and practices that disrupt the continuity and the norms of ordinary reality. We hope not only to engage with heterotopic concepts, but to be a heterotopic space.


The world is still in crisis and presence continues to be a question and a problem. 

Presence has become immaterial, intangible, ephemeral, fugitive, ungraspable. Presence has become overbearing, unbearable, too near, intolerable, threatening. Longing for old presences; looking for ways to recreate, reformulate and reinvent new forms; returning to presence; leaving presence; searching, unmaking and remaking; undoing, being undone and reassembling. We’re present, we exchange presences, we find ways to speak, without forgetting silences and absences. Where, when and how do we find and lose presence? In what does it consist? What are its elements? How is it formed? How is it communicated and experienced?

We would like to have a series of conversations around presence and to experiment with presences. We invite contributions that take departures from questions such as

– What is presence? What forms does it take?

– When is presence? What are the times of presence?

– Where is presence? How do public and private spaces enable presences and erase them? What do digital spaces add, take away and make (im)possible?

– How are we present to ourselves? How are we present to others? 

– How are we in community? Who is present to us? With whom are we present?

– What is present to us? What do we see? What do we hear?

– How do we speak presence? How do we read it? Do we write it? Do we draw it? Do we perform it? Does it perform us?

– Where are we in our research and practice and where is it in us?

Contributions could gather into one of the following strands

presence in writing / making / drawing 

presence in reading / listening / seeing 

presence in showing / performing / telling 

presence in walking / gesturing / moving 

Online Conversations

The winter (dis)symposium will consist of a series of online events in March 2021, in the form of conversations. Each event will include a short (up to 10 minutes) contribution from 3-4 participants, a moderated conversation between the contributors, and a discussion with the audience. Depending on the number of applications, we envisage around 4 events during this time period.

We invite proposals for contributions, which can take any form: a talk, a screening, a performance, a showing of images, a reading, something else, something in-between. Each contribution should be no longer than 10 minutes. Contributors should be prepared to take part in a conversation with other participants and suggest questions that they would like to discuss. Collaborative proposals are very welcome, but depending on the number of participants, may be allocated the same time slot as individuals. 

Local event at Kallio-Kuninkala near Helsinki

In addition, a two-day symposium will take place at Kallio-Kuninkala, Sibelius Academy Music Centre (near Helsinki) on March 5–6 around 9.00–17.00. This is intended as a small gathering for local participants only due to pandemic-related uncertainty. It is taking place in a reduced format instead of the originally planned international symposium. Please do not apply for this event if you are not based within an easy travelling distance, as the risk of quarantine, cancellation or other pandemic-related difficulties is too great. In case the situation changes and cancellation of the in-person gathering becomes necessary, the event will also be held online. The symposium is arranged in collaboration with the University of the Arts Helsinki’s Centre for Artistic Research. There is no participation fee, but accommodation is not included. Participants who want to stay overnight will need to pay for their accommodation (single room 49€).

Participants are welcome to attend both the in-person symposium and the online events, but each participant can present only once. At the local event workshops (up to 30 mins) are also possible instead of 10 min talks.

Reading group – Poetics of Reading 

In January we plan to start an online reading group to explore knowledge as poetics and collective reading as communication. Reading is usually a solitary activity and communication something that happens in addition, by other means. Often, there is an expectation that to participate in a discussion, one has to bring well-formed articulate ideas. But what happens when there are no words? Who and what forms our thoughts? How can sharing others’ words by reading them together be a way towards another kind of community? How do we share our frames of reference and contexts? For more information and to indicate your interest in participating, see here.

The deadline to submit proposals is 1 December.

To apply, please submit the following via the online form

1. A written proposal of 200-250 words.

This should include a title, a description of your proposed contribution, and its format.


2. A short bio in three sentences.

Please do not submit more than one proposal (this includes proposals submitted as part of a collaboration) and do not send any additional files by email. Due to the volume of applications and for reasons of fairness, we will not be able to consider them.

Nordic Summer University membership fee

All participants need to pay the Nordic Summer University’s annual membership fee. The membership fee facilitates the existence of the Nordic Summer University, which is a volunteer-based organisation. There are two rates:

Annual membership fee (for those funded by institutions): €25 

Reduced annual membership fee (all others): €10

The membership fee must be paid online in advance of the symposium. Details about the payment will be provided on acceptance.

The Nordic Summer University is a nomadic, academic institution, which organises workshop-seminars across disciplinary and national borders. Since it was established in 1950, the Nordic Summer University has organised forums for cultural and intellectual debate in the Nordic and Baltic region, involving students, academics, artists and intellectuals from this region and beyond.

Decisions about the content and the organisational form of the Nordic Summer University lay with its participants. The backbone of the activities in the Nordic Summer University consists of its thematic study circles. In the study circles researchers, students and professionals from different backgrounds collaborate in scholarly investigations distributed regularly in summer and winter symposia during a three-year period.

The Nordic Summer University is committed to the principle of sustainability. At our symposia we offer vegetarian/vegan food only and aim towards zero waste. We thus invite members to bring their own reusable coffee cup and water bottle to the symposia and to consider carefully the carbon footprint of their travel choices.

For more information see

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