Frame Curatorial Research Fellowship

Open Call
Application time: 5 May–7 June 2020

The Frame Curatorial Research Fellowship by Frame Contemporary Art Finland is a new curatorial research programme for 2020-2023 organised in close collaboration with four international institutional partners. The first two for 2020-2021 are Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons and EVA International (Ireland’s Biennial of Contemporary Art).

The programme offers support to develop new curatorial research practices and cultivate active curatorial research practices embedded in organisational practice. What kind of curatorial research is needed in order to imagine new ways presenting and mediating contemporary art and cultural production in a form that is inseparable from the daily life, politics and policies of artists and institutions?  

The programme will host four fellows between 2020-2023 within the different frameworks related to Frame’s and its partners’ organisational work, research and programming. It offers fellows the opportunity to dive into curatorial research through an environment comprising various agents around Frame and its international partners, including artists, researchers, other practitioners and institutional actors.  

Challenges for curatorial research today  

Curatorial research that is enabled and fostered by art institutions and organisations underpinned by Western power structures and epistemological models tends to separate different forms of expression, research, art, material fabrication, daily life and politics. For example objects produced by artists are welcomed to the art historical canon and exhibition circulation but multidisciplinary long-term activism and embodied research that are deeply connected to the same artist’s practices are not given opportunity to affect institutional working models and policies.

Politics, the research process and aspects of daily life that are substantially connected to artistic practice are swept aside, reducing artworks to the themes and taglines of endlessly circulated group exhibition formats.  

Discourse, tag words, production and visibility are being circulated every more rapidly, and hence cycles within the contemporary art field and its public institutions are likewise getting quicker and quicker. It seems that critical research and knowledge production in art institutions is mainly harnessed to serve the goals of visibility, market-oriented easily measurable results, fast-paced mediation and fleetingly brief audience engagement.

The space and time needed for open-ended curatorial research and reimagining of art, institutions and their socio-political, ethical role seems to be pushed into the theoretical realms of academia and different PhD research programs.    


New ethical research practices

Within these epistemological models and practices of circulating discourses, curatorial research tends to look at the politics of art from a distance, but instead it should politicize the research itself. This is made possible by challenging its own political and epistemological structures, which are driven by such premises as representationalism, essentialism and production of art historical categorisations. 

Research fellowships offer an opportunity to develop the critical potential of curatorial research and to rethink the utilisation and value of research within institutions and society at large. It is about forming new relations between artistic practice, institutions and research that goes beyond the dichotomy of utilitarian value and autonomy.       

Fellowships also offer an opportunity to rethink what internationality and mobility of curatorial research could mean in the future. Are there new ways in which travelling, physical mobility and presence in certain geographical contexts could support socially and ecologically sustainable research practices? The programme looks for forms of research that can renew curatorial and institutional working habits and introduce new ideological frameworks for sustainable international mobility within the curatorial research field.  

The programme additionally aims to embed new forms of ethical curatorial thinking into the daily routines and actions of art organisations and to foster new connections within curatorial research, artistic practice and institutions in order to reimagine the role of a wide new range of curatorial knowledges within the field of contemporary art. Similarly it is an opportunity to build new shared futures and alliances between institutions and individuals.    

The Frame Curatorial Research Fellowship programme is supported by the Kone Foundation.


Open call for two fellowships 

In spring 2020 we will launch open calls for the first two fellowships, titled “Mapping and Unmapping Geographies”  and “Local, International and Planetary Fictions”. The frameworks of the fellowships have been developed with Frame and its partners to engage with each organisation’s specific programming strands and to interact with their position and context within the field of contemporary art.    

Both fellowships will aim to unpack the ways in which geographies can be understood within the field of contemporary art and society today. Both also highlight the need for new approaches to situating art and curatorial research in different geopolitical and geo-cultural contexts in order to imagine socially and culturally just and sustainable shared futures.  

Frame and collaborating partners invite research proposals that formulate specific and surprising takes on research contexts. Our goal is to develop new research practices by working with the selected fellows on the basis of their situated and embodied knowledges and research interests. Meanwhile, new co-developing research practises will be fostered to push organisations and fellows in unexpected directions with their curatorial work, working models and institutional policies. 


Mapping and Unmapping Geographies 

The “Mapping and Unmapping Geographies” fellowship is hosted by Frame Contemporary Art Finland and Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons. It is organised within the framework of  Casco’s Unmapping Eurasia study line and Frame’s Rehearsing Hospitalities public programme.

Unmapping Eurasia is  a long-term, trans-cultural project drawing on the notion of Eurasia as a geo-political and geo-poetical concept, initiated by Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons with its director Binna Choi and collaborating researcher and curator You Mi.

Eurasia is a geographical and geopolitical space that transgresses the division of Europe and Asia, unfolding non-Eurocentric historical and contemporary narratives of people’s movements, trades, wars and other encounters. Besides the popular historical narratives such as the Mongolian territorial expansion or the Scythians’ 5th century westward movements, Eurasia is unfolding as an emergent horizon for polycentric yet conflicting worldviews and new intercontinental connections and pathways.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aka the New Silk Road is a notable one, whereas in the lesser known post-Soviet context, Russia revives Eurasianism and Kazakhstan reclaims itself as the heart of Eurasia. Beyond these geopolitical territorial borders and conflicts. Eurasia also invites trans-“worldly” views, provoking a geological and geopoetical imagination of a landmass – even further, landmass as an ocean and its relationship with sea routes – and a never-ending time journey.

Unmapping Eurasia works as a framework in which a growing number of artists, curators and other transversal practitioners set out on physical and imaginative journeys, generating various occasions and means to connect with each other and attempt to form new ethical-aesthetic-political-economic relationships.

Frame’s Rehearsing Hospitalities public programme 2019-2023 is designed to connect artists, curators and other practitioners in the field of contemporary art and beyond to build up and mediate new practices, understandings and engagements with diverse hospitalities. One future aim is to address the complexities of the geopolitical and geo-cultural location of northern Europe within the current cultural and political context. 

Frame aims to look back into the past and also into the future of the artistic field and artistic expression situated at the edge of northern Europe and next to Russia, extending from Eastern Europe all the way to Pacific Ocean. What has been the role of the arts since the end of the Cold War – during re-heated geopolitical tensions between Europe, the Nordic countries and Russia? Is there a role for hospitalities within contemporary art and institutions in creating new understandings of safety and security within and between nation states and international politics during this time of growing income inequality, global migration and climate crisis? 

More information on the Unmapping Eurasia study line: https://casco.art/en/studylines/unmapping-eurasia

More information on the Rehearsing Hospitalities public programme: https://frame-finland.fi/en/ohjelma/rehearsing-hospitalities/


Local, international and planetary fictions

The second fellowship, hosted by Frame Contemporary Art Finland and EVA International (Ireland’s Biennial of Contemporary Art), aims to rethink and challenge the way that contemporary art operates within the interconnectedness of the local and the international, especially within the context of the biennial and international support organisations such as Frame. This is not only an enquiry into geography and the distributive powers of the ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’, but also a question of how contemporary art and its institutions manifest and speculate a public in relation to their understanding of geographical context.   

In recent years, many of the positive values associated with internationalism have become unmasked, exposing the precarity and tactical opportunism in artistic, curatorial, and institutional practice. The fellowship represents an opportunity to work with Ireland’s Biennial of Contemporary Art to explore new imaginations of local and international relations, supported by the context of EVA’s 40+ year history of producing exhibitions and events in Limerick, Ireland with curators that include Koyo Kouoh (2016), Katerina Gregos (2006), Zdenka Badovinac (2004), Jan Hoet (1994), Saskia Bos (1990), and Rudi Fuchs (1985). 

Frame was set up in the early 1990’s and its history is connected to the end of the Cold War in Europe and the emergence of contemporary art as a global cultural entity. In Finland, after decades of division into the Eastern and Western blocs both in politics and culture, there was a desire to become part of new geo-cultural spheres. Overlapping this need, the contemporary art scene took steps towards developing a new understanding of postcoloniality on the art scene through global art, exhibitions, biennales and events.     

Supporting the international relations and mobility of art and artists served and still serves as a tool for speaking with international audiences, discourses and markets. Frame offers curatorial research fellows the opportunity to look into the implications of this “internationalisation”  and to imagine other geo-cultural fictions and audiences. 

More information on EVA International: https://www.eva.ie

Applicant eligibility

The fellowships are intended for everyone who is interested in actively experimenting with  curatorial research and practice regardless of their educational background or professional status.  

We favour applicants who have experience in curatorial practices or programming work  within the arts field. We welcome an open-minded attitude towards working with the partnering institutions. 

Applicants may be based anywhere. Details related to specific forms of work, travelling, dates of the fellowship and work timing will be agreed individually with each fellow. Fellows can work part-time, and working time (four months altogether) can span over 2020 and 2021.      

We encourage all members of different minorities to apply for the fellowships, regardless of their social class, nationality, genders, gender identities, ethnic origin, religion, disability or age.


What we offer

  • Frame Contemporary Art Finland will provide a working stipend of 11 200 euro for each fellow, covering 4 full months of working time. 
  • Frame Contemporary Art Finland and its collaborating partners will cover any necessary travel and accommodation for up to 4 research periods.     
  • Frame Contemporary Art Finland and its collaborating partners will provide a small production budget for presentations of the research at public events.   


  • Fellows will work closely with Frame Contemporary Art Finland and collaborating partner institutions according to a plan agreed in dialogue with the fellows. 
  • Fellows will present their research at discursive events. 
  • Fellows will provide a written contribution for a publication that will be produced at the end of fellowship programme.    


Application process 

Please send your application in English by 7 June 2020 in one pdf file to: applications@frame-finland.fi.

Include the title “Frame Curatorial Research Fellowship” in your subject line.

Please include:  

  • Indication of which fellowship you are interested in (Mapping and Unmapping Geographies or Local, International and Planetary Fictions)
  • A preliminary research plan (one  A4 page), containing ideas on the focus and methods of the research in relation to the research and institutional frameworks offered.      
  • A motivation letter (one A4 page), containing your motivation for developing new curatorial research practices with partnering institutions. 
  • Portfolio, including CV.  

Based on these materials Frame and its partners will invite shortlisted applicants to take part in a video call. The final selection will be made during the summer 2020. 




More information

Jussi Koitela, Head of Programme
Frame Contemporary Art Finland
+358 50 471 7711


Image: Ida Enegren / Frame Contemporary Art Finland.