This year’s event, titled Every Object Has a Story: Art, Research and the Reinvention of Things, gathers artists, curators and scholars to investigate the myriad ways research manifests itself in the visual arts. Questions such as the ethnographic or archaeological turn in contemporary art, the archive and re-enactment have been the subject of many exhibitions and conferences, and it is widely acknowledged that research is considered part of the artistic process, that art is a form of knowledge.

The aim of this symposium is to give voice to practitioners who explore the poetic, aesthetic, conceptual, even comical ways research manifests itself in their work. It will focus on the material object, on how the object embodies and transmits knowledge, on the synthesis of ideas and knowledge, and on how these are articulated in works of art. The notion of material thinking, of how ideas are turned into artworks, and the processes of transformation from idea to object are at the heart of this symposium.

The conference is planned to tie in with the exhibition Simon Starling: Metamorphology, which functions as a springing off point for presentations by artists and curators who employ research as an essential component of their practice. Drawing on what curator Dieter Roelstraete describes as Simon Starling’s belief in the transformative potential of art, it will explore how history and the history of art, economics and geo-politics, craft and the question of making, poetry and the power of the visual are accessed in making and thinking about the work of art.

“The nature of art practice as research is that it is a creative and critical process that accepts that knowledge and understanding continually change, methods are flexible, and outcomes are often unanticipated, yet possibilities are opened up for revealing what we don’t know as a means to challenge what we do know.” (Graeme Sullivan, Art Practices as Research)


  • Raymond Boisjoly
    Artist who lives and works in Vancouver
  • Vincent Bonin
    Author and independent curator who lives and works in Montréal, Québec
  • Jason Dodge 
    Artist who lives and works in Berlin, Germany
  • Rebecca Duclos
    Graduate Dean and Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Luanne Martineau
    Artist who lives and works in Montréal, Québec
  • Dieter Roelstraete
    Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and member of the curatorial team organizing Documenta 14
  • Simon Starling
    Artist who lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark