The 5th Nida Doctoral School intensive course for DA and PhD students in art, design, architecture, humanities and the social sciences

26-31 August 2019 in Venice, ItalyFocusing on questions pertinent to their individual research, doctoral candidates worked closely with speakers & tutors from art, design, higher education & the culture sector. Talks, discussion groups, doctoral research presentations (formal, informal, performative, experimental, etc.), peer review, group & individual consultations, derives & screenings contributed to developing the students’ PhD projects.

This year’s NDS was held in Venice during the Biennale – at the Lithuanian Pavilion, the Research Pavilion, & additional environments in Venice.

Entitled ‘Fight The Power’, this year’s Nida Doctoral School was energised by the 30th anniversary of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and its opening credit sequence, soundtracked by Public Enemy. Convinced by the radical potentialities of research-as-praxis, NDS utilised this 30th anniversary to ask: what does it mean to do the right thing?

Focusing on artistic research’s potentialities, this year’s Nida Doctoral School struggled with this, and the following questions: how can we as artists, designers, historians, theorists, educators, musicians, and critics engage critically with power? Where does power reside? How is it secured, consolidated, and utilised? And to what end? If power is embedded and embodied in systems – the financial system, the educational system, the culture system, the healthcare system, the system of government and law enforcement – how can we discern, participate critically, and even transform such systems? How should we navigate our way through this quagmire of power-knowledge-control, which shapes truth, and interpolates us as subjects of and subjects to its ideology? If such governmentality is the organised and organising practices (mentalities, rationalities, and techniques) through which our society is rendered governable, why and how might we prove ourselves to be ungovernable?

How then to do the right thing, as we work with (and against) power’s authority and disciplining with regards to for instance: medium-specificity; language and grammar; the limits of geometry; distributed systems, ecologies, and networks; quantification and predictive analytics; the authority of a discipline or field of inquiry or profession; and even the rules and regulations of institutions such as the art school?

As a call to arms, Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing vibrates with our own climate of rising national populism and localism, #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, structural racial and gender and ableist inequalities, the global immigration crisis, relentless gentrification and the demise of the high street, police brutality, civil unrest, the rise of the precariat and the gig economy, feelings of helplessness and exhaustion, and the whimsy of truth. As such, the Nida Doctoral School was an occasion to take stock of the present as it had come to be shaped by the historical-political-cultural events of and around 1989: the Revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe, the supposed demise of Communism, the so-called ‘End of History’ and the beginning of the post-Cold War period, the suppression of mass political protest in Tiananmen Square; the beating of Rodney King and the LA riots; the pre-eminence of neo-liberalism, and the advent of an ethics of planetarity. Simultaneously, the Doctoral School was an occasion to look to the future, to how we might envisage the future, and to do so in order not only to interpret the world, in various ways, but to change it.

Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing ends with two quotations, one from Malcolm X saying he is not against using violence in self-defence, and a second from Martin Luther King Jr. advocating nonviolence in the fight for justice. In our own search for justice, how can our research-as-praxis – our labour, our communicative bodies, our performative acts, our conversations, our commitment to communities and to our own creative practice itself – declare our resistance and dissent, our agonism and dissensus, thereby enacting our right to speak which, in turn, enables us to not so much fight the power as fight for power, and, in so doing, honour our obligation to do the right thing?

The curator of the 2019 NDS was Dr. Marquard Smith; Programme Leader, MA Museums & Galleries in Education, UCL; Professor of Artistic Research, Vilnius Academy of Arts; Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Visual Culture; Board Member, Live Art Development Agency & Arts Catalyst.

Speakers and Tutors

Dr. Michelle Williams Gamaker
Professor Guy Julier
Elan Gamaker
Dr. Mika Elo
Dr. Vytautas Michelkevičius
Dr. Joanne Morra
Dr. Sofia Pantouvaki


Adam J B Walker – Royal College of Art (UK)
Alessandra Ferrini – University of the Arts London (UK)
Anni Laakso – University of the Arts Helsinki (FI)
Camilla Andersson – Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture (FI)
Emilia Yang – University of Southern California (US)
Freja Bäckman – Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture (FI)
Jade Montserrat – University of Central Lancashire, IBAR (UK)
Juan Duarte Regino – Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture (FI)
Laima Kreivyte – Vilnius Academy of Arts (LT)
Marcia Michael, University of the Arts London (UK)
Marloeke van der Vlugt – Utrecht University of the Arts (NL)
Onyeka Igwe – University of the Arts London (UK)
Saara Hannula – University of the Arts Helsinki (FI)
Simona Zemaityte – Vilnius Academy of Arts (LT)
Stephanie Misa – University of the Arts Helsinki (FI)
Teresa M. Carlesimo – Queen’s University (CA)
Vitalij Cerviakov – Vilnius Academy of Arts (LT)