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Open call for 'ULB Language Year' artist residency

Published on December 19, 2019 Updated on August 21, 2020

The Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) has placed the 2019-2020 academic under the banner “Language Year: universals and identities” with events organized all year long around language and linguistics. In this context, the University is offering a six-week residency for a visual and/or plastic artist to create a piece for the University, in dialogue with members of the university community and campus life as a whole. Over the course of six weeks, the resident artist will be expected to create an artwork on the theme of language and/or linguistics. The piece will be premiered in the F building (Foyer Culturel) on the Solbosch Campus of the ULB.


Languages are cultural, social and political objects and they can be explored as such, for example via literary studies, but they also have cognitive and biological components. They can be explored via new technologies or as tools for developing rhetorical and critical thinking skills. While language is one of the great human universals, specific languages are rich, cultural phenomena.

The University’s "Language Year: universals and identities“ is anchored in a firm intent to promote multilingualism on the one hand, and to raise awareness among the University of the question of disappearing languages, especially indigenous languages, on the other.

Encouraging multilingualism and taking on the challenges of linguistic diversity are among the University’s central preoccupations. The ULB’s main campuses are in Brussels, which is both a multicultural city and the capital of two multilingual political entities: Belgium and Europe. Brussels, as a region of migration, exhibits great cultural and linguistic diversity, and over a hundred languages are spoken in this city. A recent survey of the ULB student body on their first and second languages reflects the city’s rich linguistic make up, as students mention mother tongues as diverse as German, Arabic, Chechen, Peul, Uzbek, Yoruba as well as non-specified creoles and Belgian French Sign Language. The ULB is thus a multicultural university with a strong international presence: over 20% of students are from other European countries, and 10% come from outside of Europe. The ULB is also a founder member of the European University CIVIS.

The University’s interest in indigenous languages is twofold: on the one hand, it is stimulated by the pragmatic issue of fieldwork in areas where minority languages are spoken, and on the other hand, by an interest in the promotion of linguistic diversity per se. Over 7000 languages are spoken throughout the world in 2019. However, this large number hides an increasing linguistic impoverishment, because half of the world’s population speaks only 23 of these languages. Furthermore, a third of recorded languages are in danger of extinction, often with under 1000 native speakers left. The UN estimates that an indigenous language disappears every two weeks, and, because of this threat to global linguistic diversity, proclaimed 2019 the Year of Indigenous Languages.
The selected artist will be expected to work from one of these themes,
and suggestions relative to general linguistics are also welcome.


The ULB is offering a six-week residency, from February 3, 2020 to March 15, 2020. As an indication, around four weeks will be devoted to the conception of the piece, working closely with linguists and the university community at large, and two weeks to the realization of the designed piece.

Inauguration will take place on Monday March 16, 2020 within the framework of the Bruxelles libre Culture (BLC) festival.

The project will be coordinated by our partner Ohme, a transdisciplinary organization working at the nexus of science and art.


The resident artist will work closely with a steering committee, made up of linguists from different disciplines and project managers. It is important that the scientific work in linguistics produced at the ULB feeds the conception of the piece. The piece will investigate one of the themes described above: multilingualism, with a focus on Brussels, endangered languages, and/or general linguistics.

The piece will be premiered in the F building on the Solbosch Campus, principally for the ‘Foyer Culturel’ room (see attached layout). It must however be transportable, as the piece may tour among the universities of the CIVIS alliance.

We offer

  • A 18.000 euros budget including:

    • Artist fee;

    • Production costs​​​ and acquisition of the artwork by the ULB;

    • Transfer of IP ownership or license for exploiting IP rights related to the artwork.

  • A 6-week artist residency.

  • An office space on the ULB Solbosch campus and a workspace, according to the needs of the artist, within the Fablab ULB on the USquare Campus (227 avenue de la couronne, 1050 Bruxelles) during the residency.

  • The opportunity to reach a student population in Brussels and in other European universities, within the framework of CIVIS, a European university alliance.

How to apply

To be eligible, candidates must be residents of Belgium.

Applications in French, English or Dutch will be accepted, but the artist must be able to interact with members of the primarily French speaking university community.

Applications must be sent by email - title "Open call for artist residency ULB + Name") before 23h59, January 12, 2020 to:

  • anneedeslangues@ulb.be
  • info@ohme.be
  • Eleanor.Miller@ulb.ac.be

Candidates will be notified by January 24, 2020.

Candidates must be available for the full residency from 3/02/2020 to 15/03/2020.

Applications must include:

  • Contact information (first and last names, email address and phone number);

  • Updated portfolio;

  • CV;

  • Rough proposal and/or sketch with commentary (max 1000 words);

  • Indications concerning preferred mediums.


The selection committee will be composed of curators, artists, linguists and representatives of the University community.

The selection criteria include:

  • Relevance to the described themes;

  • Proposed interactions with the university community at large;

  • Feasibility of the project within the set timeline.

from December 19, 2019 to January 12, 2020
Brussels, Solbosch Campus