Artistic Research | Performing Heterotopia study circle invites proposals for workshops, interventions, presentations, performances and experiments on the theme of


Artistic Research | Performing Heterotopia
Summer Symposium
26 July – 2 August 2020
Rønningen Folkehøgskole, Oslo, Norway 

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 summer symposium will be the fourth 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.


After departing from Elsewhere, passing through Absences and Silences and arriving at Disorientations, this summer we would like to ask about new beginnings through pleasure and playfulness. 

We see pleasure and playfulness as heterotopic states and modes of being, as forms of purposeful activity that can put into question existing knowledges and generate new ones, and as sites where linear notions of time, space, embodiment and subjectivity are challenged.

We are interested in pleasure and playfulness as strategies and processes of artistic research that give us access to knowledges and practices unapproachable by “serious” means. 

We want to set aside conventional valuations of pleasure and playfulness as lacking rigour and weight, and instead to consider them as both methods and areas of inquiry. We want to embrace their lightness and follow the paths they open up towards multiplicity, plurality, indeterminacy and surprise. We are interested in their capacity to disrupt familiar categories and unsettle habitual practices and thoughts. We would like to explore their possibility as refusal and resistance, and their potential as liberation. 

We want to know how we can play with weighty and serious things. We’d like to perform and improvise, and ask about performance and improvisation as activities using pleasure and play. 

We also want to provoke discussion about how we understand pleasure and playfulness within practice and research, from whose perspective, according to whose experiences – and who is excluded. Whose pleasure matters and who is allowed to play? What kinds of exploitations and displacements are often behind our enjoyments and sites of pleasure? In what ways can pleasure and playfulness be forms of violence as well as knowledge and joy?

We encourage work in progress, incompleteness and unfinished work, partial and fragmented efforts, lost or missing elements, especially when they reflect on forms and uses of pleasure and engage in playful subversions. 

Proposals for workshops, interventions, presentations, performances and experiments could engage and depart from ideas and concepts surrounding pleasure and playfulness as methods and strategies of artistic research 

– the meaning of play and playfulness within artistic practice and research

– the role of pleasure in knowledge and practice

– the body and its relationship to pleasure and playfulness

– non-hierarchical and non-competitive forms of playfulness and play

– playfulness as a way of embodying plural selves and inhabiting multiple worlds

– pleasure and playfulness in performance and improvisation

– the role of pleasure and playfulness in challenging socio-political hierarchies

– feminist, decolonial and queer theories and approaches to pleasure and playfulness 


Individual presentations and performances will be allocated a 30-minute slot. We are open to longer timeframes for alternative formats. Please note that, unfortunately, there will not be space for multi-hour durational events, but we will aim to dedicate some time to longer workshops and activities, especially if they can happen in parallel to other parts of the programme or in smaller groups. We would also like to have some ‘analogue sessions’ without digital technology.

To apply, please submit the following via the online form by 1 May

1. A written proposal: no more than 350 words. This text should include your title, your presentation proposal and its format. 


2. A short bio in 3 sentences.

Participation in the symposium involves not only presenting one’s own work, but also listening to and engaging with others. We invite participants to stay for the entire week of the symposium. Please only apply if you are able to do so.

If you would like to attend the summer symposium without presenting, please submit a short statement explaining your interest in the topic and a short 3-sentence bio (no more than 300 words in total). Priority will be given to those wishing to perform or present.

Facilities and technical equipment

The symposium will take place at Rønningen Folkehøgskole (a boarding school) and we will have a projector and basic speakers available. We will be in a room suitable for the size of our group and for performances. We usually move the furniture and use the floor space. In the do-it-yourself spirit of our circle, please note that participants need to supply their own materials and props, and that equipment other than a projector and speakers may not be available. For example, we can’t provide specialised lighting or sound equipment. 

Proposals for the Evening Cultural/Social Programme

There will be a cultural and social programme in the evening, and participants are invited to propose a contribution. This could be a performance, a talk, a book launch, a film screening, a drawing lesson, a bookbinding workshop, an outdoor reading, a discussion between two circles, a swim, a dance… Collaborations with other circles are especially welcome. The audience for the event will be participants from all the nine Nordic Summer University circles. However, smaller workshops can be proposed with a limited number of participants, especially if they can take place in parallel to other events. A total of 4-5 events are planned, for the evenings of Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri. The open call for the evening programme is addressed to all circles and the final decision on selecting proposals will be made by the summer session arrangement committee. Please submit your proposal via the online application form.

This year’s venue Rønningen Folkehøgskole has great facilities for a cultural and social programme. There is a cinema, two dance studios (with dance floor and mirrors), a lecture/concert hall (250 seats), a flat screen TV room, a large indoor and outdoor sports field and a gym. NSU has access to all the rooms on site, as well as to a sound studio and a photo studio upon request. More information about the venue can be found here: 

Applications must be submitted via the online form:

The deadline to submit proposals is 1 May.  

The programme will be published on our website in summer 2020.

Important dates

Deadline for proposals: 1 May 

Applicants informed of outcome: 15 May 

Deadline for registration and payment: 1 June 

Arrival: 26 July 

Departure: 2 August 

Scholarships and grants

Nordic Summer University will provide scholarships for Nordic and Baltic students and grants for all others in need of support in order to attend the summer session. The deadline is 1 May. Applications are submitted via the same form as the proposal. For more information on the application process, see 

Please note that participants who receive grants and scholarships are expected to help the summer session arrangement committee with small tasks; for example, writing blog posts, sharing their experiences, distributing information, and helping with events. 

Summer session dates, location and cost

During the summer session, Nordic Summer University’s nine study circles will come together and participants can visit other circles. You can find more information about the Nordic Summer University and see the full list of circles, themes and coordinators, as well as sign up for the newsletter here:

The summer session 2020 will take place at Rønningen Folkehøgskole, Oslo, Norway. Find out more about the venue and the summer session here:

The cost of participation is 100 Euros for scholarship holders, 120 Euros for grant holders, and between 400 and 650 Euros for single participants (the price depends on type of room chosen). Children and other accompanying persons can stay in the accommodation for an additional price; family rooms are also available. Detailed information on prices will be published here:

Prices include accommodation and meals as well as the conference program during the day and a cultural program in the evenings. 

In addition to the registration fee, participants need to pay the Nordic Summer University’s annual membership fee. The membership feefacilitates 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 participation fee includes meals and accommodation during the symposium. 

Both the participation fee and the membership fee must be paid online in advance of the conference. Details about registration and payment will be provided on acceptance.

Parents with children 

Families are welcome at the summer session. As in previous years, there will be a dedicated circle for children aged between 3 and 15 years. In the children’s circle Nordic Summer University offers a variety of activities for children and young people, running parallel to the study circles. For more information, see   

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 lie with its participants. The backbone of the activities in the Nordic Summer University is 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