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Phd student from RUC receives EliteForsk travel scholarships for stays in an international research environment

PhD student Anne Julie Arnfred will explore how collaboration between science, art and curation can create new ways of working with academic knowledge.
Anne Julie Arnfred
PhD student Anne Julie Arnfred receives an EliteForsk travel scholarship for an extended research visit to Goldsmiths, University of London. Photo: Suzanne Reitz


Each year the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science awards a number of EliteForsk travel grants to particularly talented PhD students to enable them to undertake long-term study visits to strong international research environments.

In 2021, two PhD students from Roskilde University will receive travel scholarships, and one of them is Anne Julie Arnfred from the Department of Communication and Humanities. The EliteForsk travel scholarships are each worth DKK 200,000.

Anne Julie Arnfred will spend the grant on an extended research stay at Goldsmiths, University of London in England, where she will also be linked to the European Forum for Advanced Practices, which is a research network of a large number of European universities, academies, NGOs and others. The purpose of the stay is for Anne Julie Arnfred to strengthen and expand her professional network with researchers from all over Europe.

“With that connection to Goldsmiths and Advanced Practices, my work will be rooted in a strong, international research environment. It is a huge advantage for me and for RUC. I will be taught by and collaborate with the most talented researchers in my field, not least Professor Irit Rogoff, who is internationally recognised for her work at the intersection between contemporary art, curation, critical theory and practice-based knowledge. That and the collaboration with fellow students from around the world is absolutely crucial for the development of my PhD”, says Anne Julie Arnfred.

Testing methods in practice

Anne Julie Arnfred has 11 years of experience as a curator and developer of art exhibitions from institutions such as Kunsthallen Nikolaj in Copenhagen and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde. She researches how a close collaboration between science, art and the curator to create an exhibition will be able to discover new ways of working with academic knowledge. In her research, Anne Julie Arnfred looks at what happens when the various actors work together to develop, prepare and carry out an exhibition.

She works with three different exhibitions: A historical, a social science and a natural science exhibition, where she connects researchers from selected ongoing research projects with selected artists and people who have a special experience in the subject in question. In that process, Anne Julie Arnfred will investigate how the interaction between the actors affects not only the exhibition itself, but also the research and the art.

Among other things, she conducts workshops where researchers, artists, representatives from the exhibition venue and people with experience from the subject of the exhibition meet, and the exhibition is created through this process.

“I put emphasize on the process when I create an exhibition. It is not new that artists and science work together, but my project is a new practice-based way of creating academic knowledge, which is then disseminated to a larger audience. My project is not just about a communication approach. It goes a step further and focuses on what both the researchers and the artists obtain from it, and whether it can also contribute to their research and their artistic practice. When you enter into such a collaboration as a researcher, you may also become aware of new aspects or blind spots in your research. And as an artist, it can be a valuable gift to have access to a professional expert in a field that you deal with artistically. The crucial thing is that the artists, the curator and the researchers are on an equal footing with each other and that they influence each other along the way”, says Anne Julie Arnfred.

The purpose of the project is for Anne Julie Arnfred to develop a set of methods so that a framework is established for the encounter between researchers, artists and curators, and she will test the methods in practice through the development of the three specific exhibitions.

She works with research projects at Roskilde University, the University of Copenhagen and the University of Southern Denmark. An example is the research project 'Politics of Family Secrecy’, with the sub-project ‘The Concealment of Mental Maladies', which is about family secrets and mental illness in a historical perspective. It will be an exhibition at the Forsorgsmuseet [Welfare Museum] in Svendborg in collaboration with contemporary artists Jakob Jakobsen, Heidi Fast and author Mikael Josephsen, as well as three people who have personal experience with the subject. The exhibition will contain contemporary works of art and installations that relate to the Forsorgsmuseet's history, family secrets and mental illness.

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Roskilde University's media service