BURN-OUT. Exhaustion on a Planetary Scale

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Eigenlicht (2012), 35mm film with no sound, 18 minutes, Melvin Moti.

Through its annual Call for Fellows, Het Nieuwe Instituut’s Research Department acknowledges and gives visibility to research projects offering departures from established modes of thinking and practice. For this iteration of the Call for Fellows, the Research Department has selected the theme of BURN-OUT. Exhaustion on a Planetary Scale.

Since its founding in 2013, Het Nieuwe Instituut has pioneered research in architecture, design and digital culture, fostering programmes, exhibitions, lectures, archival investigations and publications in the Netherlands and internationally.

Building upon last year’s call, the 2019 research trajectory aims to instigate forms of coexistence, sensibility and care for multispecies, collective bodies in times of planetary burn-out.

Under unrelenting pressure and divisive and exploitative climates, bodies are exhausted. To burn-out is to stall, break or become otherwise unusable. In other words, processes, procedures and participation simply stop working. Yet, burn-out could also be a generative point of departure; an opportunity to break open, promote action and catalyse change towards new structures and relations. How can new, unconventional approaches to research, administration, communications, critical thought and practice be developed and utilised to challenge the inevitability of burn-out? What other perspectives might be considered?

Through the convergence of, and alliances between, decolonial, post-Anthropocenic, and queering epistemologies, more equitable and inclusive social, political, technical as well as biological ecologies have been imagined and instigated to some extent. However, in order for these to be fully materialised, existing structures need to be re-shaped. Or, has this all burned out?

Moving beyond the individual and the human body, the notion of burn-out of the planetary body addresses the ongoing presence of multi-scalar, exploitative structures. An alternative proposition could be care as a distributed agency among more-than-human things and beings. Care, in this regard, is not understood as “a feel-good attitude,” but rather—referring to the work of Maria Puig de la Bellacasa—through dimensions of affect/affection, labour/work, and ethics/politics.

Fostering open-ended and non-predetermined modes of thinking, and refusing universal claims, this initiative calls for imaginaries, epistemologies, spatial relations, and forms of action that enhance and sustain care for collective, more-than-human bodies. How can design, architecture and digital culture support multi-species cohabitation?

Selection Criteria

Het Nieuwe Instituut Research Fellowships will be considered based on the following criteria:

1. Applicants are encouraged to submit a critical and forward-thinking research proposal that addresses the 2019-2020 core theme: BURN-OUT. Exhaustion on a planetary scale. This may incorporate a larger system of references, schools of critical thought and trans-disciplinary practices, as well as different forms of engagement. Ultimately, applicants should consider how their proposal might impact wider technological, political, social and or biological ecologies. Proposals can also account for multiple scales, from the molecular to the planetary.

2. Applicants are invited to approach the theme of BURN-OUT. Exhaustion on a planetary scale from the lens of architecture, design and/or digital practices, as well as to challenge the very notion of the real and imagined boundaries of these disciplines. Their points of departure may include — but are not limited to — areas of computation, climate/environment, race/post-coloniality, queer/trans/non binary studies, health and wellness, as well as the collection of the State Archive for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning at Het Nieuwe Instituut. At least one, or a combination of, approaches are encouraged, which may range from documenting existing relations and visualising new alliances to proposing/developing legal frameworks and spatial strategies.

3. Priority will be given to applicants who depart from established modes of thinking, develop a distinctive research approach, activate multiple channels for dissemination of research outcomes, and construct a network of collaborators and other institutional contacts from within the Netherlands and abroad. Ultimately, applicants are asked to take into account how the proposed research might build upon (or re-articulate) existing relationships and research initiatives at other institutions and organisations in the Netherlands, locally in Rotterdam, or abroad.

4. The Research Department at Het Nieuwe Instituut also encourages applicants to propose projects that challenge the ongoing activities of Het Nieuwe Instituut — and in particular its Research Department, which is committed to embrace and put into practice these ideas and paradigms in its daily activities. This could involve labour ethos, forms of engagement, and strategies for internal and external collaboration that are not dependent on exploitative, extractive, and discriminatory technologies and economies.

Whilst Het Nieuwe Instituut is based in the Netherlands, its focus is both outward and inward thinking. As such, the institute invites applicants from all citizenships and places of residence (including the city of Rotterdam) to join its mission to foster the next generation of critical thinkers and practitioners.

Het Nieuwe Instituut Research Fellowships are open to all degree levels in all disciplines. Equal priority will be given to those without a degree or institutional affiliation who demonstrate a high level of creativity, critical thought and other potentials in their respective fields. Neither a curriculum vitae nor letters of recommendation are requested. There is no age limit for applicants.

Previous fellows include Ramon Amaro, Andrea Bagnato, Daphne Bakker, Annet Dekker, Natalie Dixon, Tal Erez, Sara Frikech, Elisa Giuliano, Dan Handel, Ruben Jacobs, Chris Kabel, Christopher Lee, Roos Meerman, Christien Meindertsma, Malique Mohamud, Simone Niquille, Sascha Pohflepp, Malkit Shoshan, Matthew Stadler, Noam Toran and Füsun Türetken. More information about them can be found here.

About the Research Fellowships

Het Nieuwe Instituut Research Fellowships are 6-month positions based at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, the Netherlands from September 2019 – February 2020. They include a monthly stipend of 2.000 EUR, and a return trip from the country of residence and a research trip to Chernobyl. Stipends may be subject to a withholding tax. Fellows are responsible for arranging their own accommodation. Fellows must be able to attend regular meetings in Rotterdam. The terms of the Research Fellowships will be agreed on an individual basis with respect to research subject, location and residence eligibility.

The Research Fellowships will be developed through independent research; individual support and interaction with the Research Department team; monthly meetings with all fellows to discuss thematic and methodological aspects of research.

Each fellow is invited to organise a public presentation in late 2019 or early 2020 related to their individual projects, as part of Het Nieuwe Instituut’s Thursday Night Live! or other programmes. The research outcomes of each fellow will also be disseminated on an ongoing basis via Het Nieuwe Instituut’s website, newsletter or other publications. Projects may contribute to future exhibitions or events or develop independently of the public programmes at Het Nieuwe Instituut.

Fellows have daily access to the facilities of Het Nieuwe Instituut, including the library, archives, exhibitions, workspaces and presentation spaces. Other resources may be available in concert with other departments of Het Nieuwe Instituut as well as its ongoing institutional partnerships.


Applications are open from March 18 to April 22, 2019.
Pre-selection April 22 – May 6

A pre-selection of applications will be made by the Research Department:

Marina Otero Verzier – Director of Research, Marten Kuijpers – Landscape and Interior, Research Department, Ludo Groen – Landscape and Interior, Research Department, Anastasia Kubrak – Things and Materials, Research Department, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer – Digital Culture, Research Department, Katía Truijen – Digital Culture, Research Department. More information about the pre-selection team can be found here.

A jury composed of leading international scholars and practitioners will select the three fellows. Jury members include Guus Beumer (General and Artistic Director, Het Nieuwe Instituut), Revital Cohen (artist, Revital Cohen and Tuur van Balen), Cooking Sections (spatial practitioners, Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe), Elaine Gan (artist-scholar, Faculty Fellow at the Center for Experimental Humanities, NYU) and Christina Sharpe (Professor of Humanities at York University and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University). The jury meeting will be chaired by Marina Otero Verzier (Director of Research, Het Nieuwe Instituut). More information about the jury members will be announced in the coming weeks. The members of the jury will have access to all applications and can add any proposal to the pre-selection list at their discretion.

All applications will be reviewed on the basis of their engagement with the fellowship theme, depth of investigation, idiosyncracy, connection to Het Nieuwe Instituut’s mission, and potential for exchange between fellows and across disciplinary boundaries. Preference will be given to proposals that include collaborations with institutions, NGOs and organisations in the Netherlands and abroad.

Submission Requirements and Deadline

Application deadline: 22 April, 2019

Your application should include:

  1. A link to an audio file including a self-introduction and an introduction of the project (maximum 3 minutes);
  2. Graphic material such as drawings, images or digital engagements (maximum 10);
  3. A proposed calendar and a working methodology or research approach (maximum 300 words);
  4. Contact information (full name, country of residence, e-mail address, telephone number);
  5. The file should be titled with the name of the applicant and the research proposal, in the following format: SURNAME_NAME_PROJECTNAME.pdf

Applications and supplementary materials should be written and spoken in English and submitted, by attachment, in a single PDF, consisting of maximum 5 A4 sheets.

We understand that English proficiencies may vary. We also recognise that English may not be the applicant’s first or primary language. As such — even though proposals should be submitted in English — all proposals will be considered on the sole basis of the criteria specified above, regardless of English language skills. Proposals should, however, be as thorough and specific as possible. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer translation support at this time. Applicants with reasonable adjustments and specific needs are encouraged to contact callforfellows@hetnieuweinstituut.nl about the availability of any support services.

There is no entry fee for the call for fellows.

Go to the official call.

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