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Research and artistic activities at the Department of Art

Research at the Department of Art
Culture, material and history research focus group. Photo: Piia Lempiäinen

The research and artistic activities of Department of Art takes place in the fields of contemporary art, art education, visual culture, and curating. The department has a long tradition with artistic and philosophical production and many researchers’ work emphasises contemporary, critical, political and societal entanglements of art, curating, and pedagogy. Artistic, art educational and curational research connects to, and informs larger societal, cultural, and philosophical discourses.

Many research projects are identified as artistic research (AR) or arts-based research (ABR). This research happens, for example, in artists’ spaces, classrooms, exhibitions, museums and other institutions, and in the public sphere. The emphasis on art praxis (the combination of theory and practice) and AR and ABR brings transdisciplinary artistic knowledge to other research contexts in a unique way, and it enriches a broad range of research areas at Aalto University. Work stems from contemporary art production, artistic research, activism, and/or pedagogical motives.

Our research foci areas

Critical social research and activism in art - Department of Art

Critical social research and activism in art

This research focuses on activism, ethical perspectives and aspects of social justice, bringing forth societal questions on cultural diversity and environmental issues, such as immigration, whiteness, gender-aware research, and disability studies. Research takes place through artistic practices and research, arts-based research, curating and mediating art. Research themes share a critical aspect on power structures and questions about privileged positions in society. Solidarity, emancipation, criticality and embodied knowledge play a crucial role in this discourse.

Art education and future learning - Department of Arts

Art education and future learning

Research on art education has over 100 years of history in the department and has a vivid connection to art teaching practices within and outside of schools. It includes historical, artistic, arts-based, philosophical, epistemological and sociopolitical research in the areas of art, pedagogy, schooling, education, philosophy, psychology, and sociology. Emerging practices within art education includes varied notions of future arts learning, from programming to artificial intelligent.

Art, science & technology - Department of Art

Art, science & technology

The focus is on the intersection of art, science and technology as well as on research of multi/inter/transdisciplinary education. Research is done in collaboration with researchers and teachers from other schools of Aalto University as well as individual artistic research projects, for example in Aalto Biofilia laboratory, and in the context of environmental art. The study includes the latest developments in technology taking into consideration (post)human, post-digital, post-internet, and other contemporary artistic aspects.

Culture, material and history - Department of Art

Culture, material and history

Research in culture, material and history at the department of art focuses on social and cultural practice, and investigates how culture and cultural meanings are produced in society, both in the past and the present, with a special focus on materials (pigments, dyes, textiles etc.). The specific themes range from colour in arts to the use of material-based methods in cultural studies of dress. Most of the work is related in the fields of art and cultural history or artistic research, but our work also draws on other methodological traditions, such as social history, natural sciences and anthropology.

Visual and popular culture & aesthetics -Department of Art

Visual and popular culture & aesthetics

This research focus targets visual and aesthetic cultures from sport and food and from media to politics. Diverse methodological traditions are embodied (cultural studies, anthropology, philosophy), and issues like gender, racialization, environment and the institutional problems of cultural production are central.

Latest publications and artistic activities

Department of Film, Television and Scenography, Department of Media, Department of Art

Research Pavilion #3, Sala del Camino, Venice ITALY

Publishing year: 2019
Department of Art


Publishing year: 2019
Department of Art

In Transition from the series 'A Dream That Came True?'

Publishing year: 2019
Department of Art, Department of Film, Television and Scenography

Sites and Situations Art Event at the Floating Peripheries Conference 2019

Publishing year: 2019
Department of Art

Colonial Neighbours Fragments N°5: THE PASSAGE at Savvy Contemporary, Berlin 

Publishing year: 2019
Department of Art

Reconsidering Darkness

Publishing year: 2019 Contemporary Aesthetics
Department of Art

Arts and Cultural Education in a World of Diversity

Publishing year: 2019
Department of Art

Finnish arts-based and artistic dissertations in context: Explorations, interventions, and local interpretations

Publishing year: 2019
Department of Art

Participatory and community-based contemporary art practices with people with disabilities

Publishing year: 2019
Department of Art

Ships and Trade: the Role od Public Navigation in Renaissance Venice

Publishing year: 2019
More information on our research in the Research database.
Research database

Synnyt/Origins: Finnish Studies in Art Education

Synnyt/Origins is an international journal that serves as a platform for critical comprehension of theory and practice in art and design. Thematic scope of the journal includes, but is not limited to, the questions of art & design practice and production, criticism, pedagogy, curriculum and instruction. The journal grants an open access to all the publications and it is ranked in the publication forum of Finnish academic research.

Read more
Publications. Image: Aino Huovio.


Materials Matter exhibition by Materials Platform at Slush 2018_photo Ariane Relander
Exhibitions and fairs

Exhibition: Materials Matter

Materials Matter is the manifest of the Aalto University scientific excellence in materials research at Slush 2018. Now all Aalto University and our dear guests have a chance to see it themselves! We are bringing the exhibited projects to the Dipoli Gallery for all of you to learn more about the exciting world of materials.
The exhibition will be open from 23.01.2019 (18:00) to 03.03.2019 (12:00) for everyone. To plan your visit, please mind the Dipoli opening hours.