Artist residency call

This call is now closed. We hope to be able to communicate the outcome of the selection process by the end of March 2022.

The Pressing Matter consortium is pleased to announce the open call for its artist residency programme in the Netherlands. Pressing Matter is a four-year research programme about colonial
heritage and its legacies. We invite artists to submit proposals that critically engage with the project’s aims as outlined below.

The Programme

Started in 2021, Pressing Matter is financed by the Dutch National Science Agenda (NWA) and coordinated from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Pressing Matter investigates the potentialities of
‘colonial objects’ to support societal attempts to deal with the colonial past and its afterlives, and with conflicting claims by different stakeholders for these objects within museums. The project will critically interrogate notions of ownership, value and return as a way of enabling more equitable futures.

Pressing Matter is done collaboratively with several museums in the Netherlands, whose collections are the central objects of study for the project. These partners are the National Museum of World
Cultures, Museum Bronbeek, Museum Vrolik, Rijksmuseum, the museums of Utrecht University and Groningen University. In addition, several other academic and societal institutions are partners in the project. These include the Foundation Academic Heritage and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Societal partners are Imagine IC, The Black Archives, HAPIN Papua Support Foundation, the Rijksakademie, Framer Framed and the Peace Palace Library, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and DutchCulture.

Pressing Matter connects fundamental theories of valuation and property to postcolonial debates on heritage, to develop and test, first, new theoretical models of value and ownership and, second, new forms of return that extend current approaches to heritage restitution. Central to the project’s aims is to develop a theory of object potentialities grounded in the entangled, multipolar histories in which colonial objects were collected, kept and made meaningful. Organised around 8 work packages, the project addresses the following questions:

  1. What potential do objects (cultural and biological, including human remains and academic medical collections) collected during the colonial period contain to help us better understand the colonial past and address its ongoing legacies in the postcolonial Netherlands and Europe? (Q1)
  2. What conceptions of ownership do different stakeholders – museums, curators, scientists, members of originating communities – invoke in their claims to colonial objects? (Q2)
  3. Through what regimes of value do these different groups of stakeholders interpret and make claims on colonial objects? Under what circumstances can these regimes and conceptions become compatible? (Q3)
  4. What museological practices may help to reconcile the interests of different stakeholders in order to create more equitable and inclusive societies and to support a more sustainable and equitable (re)distribution of heritage? (Q4)

The Call

Participating artists are invited to think about the ways in which art practice can reimagine different forms of return, repair, and reconciliation broadly conceived, working with objects/collections in the partner museums collected during the colonial period.

We encourage proposals that not only challenge current dominant conceptions but also propose alternative visions for how ownership and value, return and repair can be reimagined in the service of new ethics of relations grounded in more just and equitable futures.

Project proposals must demonstrate a strong commitment to the intellectual and societal goals of the project and thereby contribute to the multidisciplinary research ecology of Pressing Matter. The selected artist will contribute to the intellectual life of the project, including active participation in the repair lab, an on- and offline site for interdisciplinary and transnational conversation and experimentation about repairing historical injustices linked to museums and their collections.

Artists can use the residency to produce a new (body of) work or complete work already in progress that is germane to the questions of Pressing Matter. The artist in residence will be required to do public presentations to showcase work or research done during the residency.

Basic Information

Who can apply:

  • Pressing Matter adopts a broad understanding of the term artist, inviting individual or collaborative projects, across any art-related discipline. We are open to proposals for both physical and conceptual work, not limited to any media.
  • We welcome applications from emerging, mid-career and established artists who demonstrate a commitment to the project’s intellectual and societal aims.


  • Between 3 – 12 months
  • Residencies can start from September 2022.
  • The residency program will end in December 2024.

Offered by Pressing Matter:

  • Travel expenses to the Netherlands (for artists living outside the Netherlands).
  • Stipend, covering living costs in the Netherlands (including a contribution to accommodation) and negotiable depending on the type of project.
  • Studio space at the Rijksakademie.
  • Pressing Matter will provide suitable accommodation for successful applicants living outside the Netherlands.
  • Material and production costs (TBD depending on project requirements).

Application guidelines:

Please submit

  • a short motivation letter (max. 1 A4),
  • a draft project proposal (max. 2 A4), including a description of intended forms of engagement with the project,
  • a CV

If selected for the second round, a more elaborate project proposal will be requested for which the applicant will receive €300 as remuneration.


  • 28 February 2022
  • Applications must be sent to: as a single pdf file

Diverse and inclusive recruitment:

Please note that our recruitment policy takes into account the individual curriculum vitae of applicants as well as the team composition as a whole. We seek to create a diverse team. In line with this policy, eligible applicants can be of any nationality. However, in choosing artists, the communities/countries from where collections of the participating museums originate will also be
taken into account in our decision making