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Word and Image

Word and Image


Prof. Dr. Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes & Prof. Dr. Emilie Sitzia

Description of the research programme of the research group

In an increasingly visual world, understanding the ever-changing relations between words and images and fostering visual literacy is of paramount importance. It implies an ethical commitment.

The Word and Image ASCA group brings together art practice- and humanities researchers from different disciplines, who are interested in exploring the relationship between word and image. It focuses on researching the various relationships between word and image in art, art (history) writing, literature, popular media, books of all forms, comics/graphic novels, creative writing etc. and their work in / impact on society (values, meaning-making, etc) and cultural imaginaries. Both “words” and “images” are taken in their broadest possible sense as including artistic production, documentary material, art writing/conceptual writing, artists’ publications, fictional or documentary narrative, poetry and publishing.

Word and image relations engage us to think about the significance of our connection with various semiotic signs and to study a variety of material that tends to fall outside the traditional boundaries of art history / theory or literary history / theory, cultural analysis etc. Questions that the group addresses include the impact of images / word on the reader / viewer, the dynamic (power) relationships between text and images, the creative potential and educational value of this interdisciplinary dialogue, its locatedness in the institutions of art / literature / the book, questions of display and curating, as well as methodological questions arising from the hybrid cultural material, whose space and meanings are always unstable, shifting, asking to be re-assessed at every turn.

In their individual and joint research, members of the group approach word and image relations from diverse (inter-)disciplinary perspectives, including literary studies, art history, art, cultural analysis, media and film studies, anthropology, curatorial studies, creative writing and artistic research. A shared research emphasis will be on experimental or non-standard forms of academic writing, methodological, theoretical and historiographical issues, display, institutions and the inherent interdisciplinarity of word / image relations.

Envisaged results

Individual and collective research undertaken within the Word and Image ASCA group in this vibrant and fast-changing field will lead to (peer-reviewed journal) articles, book chapters, monographs, artistic research publications and exhibitions. The group intends to develop interdisciplinary tools for exploring these dynamic relationships and to expand the field of study. Researchers will, among others, gather for writing workshops, seminars, master classes, reading groups, discussions, lecture(s) (performances), curatorial initiatives and grant writing groups. They will present and discuss current research and develop ideas for funding applications, conference panels, edited volumes or special issues of journals, or exhibition projects. We will set up collaborations between art, humanities and social sciences scholars, as well as with other players in the artistic and cultural sector, e.g. museums, academies and a wide range of educational institutions. We will partner with ARIAS and especially aWI (a Writing Initiative), work with the International Association of Visual Semiotics and others. One expressed intention is to work closely with the International Association of Word and Image Studies, IAWIS, and organize one of its future International Conferences.

Societal relevance

Word and Image relations determine much of how society defines itself, how it speaks to its practices and images that determine and disseminate identities. Rooted in Art History, where “the word pertaining to the image” (Warburg) is found, we seek to demystify the power of the image (WJT Mitchell) through academic enquiry, as well as word and image juxtapositions in exhibitions, conferences and publications.

Art-, creative and experimental writing, as practiced in artistic research and beyond can give an imaginative, interdisciplinary impetus to academic research in many fields. Its discourses are emergent in the Dutch context. We aim to make a contribution here that has the potential to have wide-ranging effects, including on policy formation and institutional renewal.

We are planning a conference on W.G. Sebald and Art in collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum, Sandberg Academy, Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture, Onderzoekschool Literatuurwetenschap, ARIAS and the University of Zagreb (Prof. Dr. Leonida Kovac)

We are envisaging an IAWIS conference.

We work with ARIAS and aWI to enable art writers from various disciplines to discuss and further experimental writing formats in the academic and art contexts.

We aim towards advocacy and policy information with regard to valuing (and funding) “non-standard” and creative forms of writing in the art and academic contexts.

Participants’ Bios:

Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History, University of Amsterdam. Until 2014 she was Professor of Iconology, Ulster University, Belfast. She studied in Heidelberg, London and Cologne, where she gained her PhD (researched as Joyce Foundation Scholar, Zurich). She held an Irish Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellowship, UCD. Her research focuses on word and image studies, visual legacies of (Irish) writers, performance, the historiography of art and curation (literary art exhibitions). Rooted in Joseph Beuys studies, she is interested in sculpture, performance, social practices, post-War art histories and artistic research. Her books include: Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland: Word, Image and Institutional Critique (ed., Valiz 2017); Post-War Germany and ‘Objective Chance’ (Steidl 2011); and Joyce in Art (Lilliput 2004). She has curated numerous exhibitions. 

Emilie Sitzia – After studying Art History and Literature in France, Germany and Finland she moved to New Zealand in 2004. In 2012 she left New Zealand and after roaming the European roads settled down in Maastricht in the Netherlands. She regularly publishes on Art, Literature and Museology in academic journals and recently published a book: Art in Literature, Literature in Art in 19th century France (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012). Emilie Sitzia is an Associate Professor at the Department of Arts and Literature at Maastricht University and the director of the Master Arts and Heritage. She is also a Professor of Illustration and word/image at the University of Amsterdam (Fiep Westendorp Foundation Special Chair).

Frederike Huygen studied art history and specialized in design history. After working in the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam as curator of design, she worked freelance as a researcher and writer. Since 2016 she is a lecturer in the history of Dutch graphic design at the University of Amsterdam. Huygen has written many publications, for example on design criticism, an anthology of important Dutch design texts, a PhD on Jurriaan Schrofer (designer of a.o photo books) and books on Wim Crouwel and modernism. She also initiated the website , a magazine and platform for design history.

Dovilė Aleksandravičiūtė is a visual artist and a writer. Aleksandravičiūtė holds a Bachelor of Art History from Vilnius Academy of Arts (LT), a Bachelor of Arts in Art & Design in the field of Fine Arts from Gerrit Rietveld Academy (NL) and a Master of Arts in the field of Artistic Research from University of Amsterdam (NL). She is a language based visual artist and a researcher who combines academic and artistic research to investigate the correlations between visual arts and literature. 

Maria Barnas (NL, 1973) is first and foremost a reader. In between reading, she works on poems, essays, objects, films and poetry installations - that spring from an interest in the workings and struggles of language. Her latest novel Altijd Augustus (2017) and collection of poems Nachtboot (2018) are published by Uitgeverij Van Oorschot. The gallery representing what is called visual work but is in fact often poetry in disguise, is Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam. Her latest exhibition, Song for Three Rooms is running until March 31st 2019 at Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo. Barnas is editor of literary magazine De Gids and contributes to a wide range of magazines and newspapers, such as Zeit Magazine, De Groene Amsterdammer. She is advisor at Rijksakademie, Amsterdam and teaches writing at the Image & Language department at the Rietveld Academie. Her ambition is to land a poem in outer space and write essays on the hypothesis of solid language. An equally strong ambition is to loose all ambition. At the moment she is working on a poem that is stuck at the first sentence: I am a suburb.

Tânia A. Cardoso is a Portuguese illustrator based in Rotterdam since January 2015. Tânia works as a freelancer in multiple visual areas such as comics, customization, scientific and expressive Illustration. Her work has integrated international collective exhibitions; won the “Worldwide Picture Book Illustration Competition” 2015 in The Netherlands and the “Gorsedh Kernow Creativity Award” 2017 in The United Kingdom. She is also a Master in Urbanism by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and drawing in the streets of the city is her favorite hobby. Her thesis "Urban Chronicles: Representation and critique of the city through Graphic Novels" was a finalist for the Future Ideas 2015 Competition in The Netherlands. Currently, she is a PhD Candidate at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam, exploring the relationship between illustration and the city through artistic research. 

Amal Chatterjee is Senior Course Tutor for the MSt in Creative Writing, University of Oxford. He has published fiction (novels and short stories), history and also writes drama. He teaches creative writing at University of Oxford, and various kinds of writing at universities in Amsterdam and other cities in the Netherlands, other European countries and in Africa. His novel was shortlisted for the Crossword Book Prize in India, he has been awarded a Scottish Arts Council Writer’s Bursary, shortlisted for Creative Scotland Award, and his short plays have been staged in London.

Carrol Clarkson is Professor and Chair of Modern English Literature at the University of Amsterdam. She has published widely on aesthetics, legal theory, and South African literature and art; her books include J.M. Coetzee: Countervoices (Palgrave 2009; 2nd edition 2013) and Drawing the Line: Toward an Aesthetics of Transitional Justice (Fordham University Press 2014). Her current book project has the working title, Sensory Fields and Subjective Commitment. She is on the board of directors of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, and is an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Cape Town.

Matthijs Engelberts’ current research is centered primarily on aspects of mediality in modern literature and (other) narrative art media. His publications include books, edited volumes and articles in French and English on (genre- and media-related questions in) Beckett, surrealist theatre, the contemporary drama text, Tardieu, Duras, theatresports, Molière, Philippe Claudel, Toussaint, Houellebecq and other authors, mainly those who are working at the intersections of literature and cinema or theatre. He also contributes to wider questions in the humanities, such as the debate about the value of the humanities and of literary studies (Poétique 183 (2018), 121-140).  He is member of the editorial board (editor in chief) of the bilingual journal Samuel Beckett Today/aujourd’hui, and serves on the board of IAWIS (International Association for Word and Image Studies).

Esther Hammelburg is a PhD-candidate at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (UvA) and lecturer at the Faculty of Digital Media and Creative Industries (HvA). Her research is focussed on liveness within the mediatised experience of cultural events, with special attention for the ways in which we use images to connect ourselves to events and share our live-experiences. Esther's research and teaching areas include liveness, media and citizenship, media representations, media and art philosophy, media literacy and visual culture.

Eve Kalyva is an art critic, museum educator and writer. After completing her PhD on image and text juxtapositions in conceptual art at the University of Leeds, she continued as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Buenos Aires where she explored conceptual art’s transatlantic exchanges and the relations across art, media and politics in dictatorial regimes. Eve has taught at universities in the UK and Argentina, and has collaborated with international art institutions as curator and artist in residence. Her work focuses on conceptual and contemporary art, intermediality, exhibition strategies, interactive storytelling and art’s social responsibility. Eve publishes on art history, art and literary criticism, philosophy, social semiotics, Latin American studies, museum studies, new media and visual culture. Her monograph Image and Text in Conceptual Art: Critical Operations in Context came out by Palgrave/Macmillan in 2017.

Dr. Erin La Cour holds a PhD from the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, with a thesis entitled “The ‘Graphic Novel’: Discourses on the Archive” (2013). She was project advisor for the sequential art exhibition “Black or White” (Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2013), is a member of the Nordic Network for Comics Research, is a former editor of the Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art, and is currently a book review editor for Early Popular Visual Culture and faculty advisor for the creative writing and experimental image/text journal Expanded Field. She is also the co-founder and co-director of Amsterdam Comics, and has published a co-edited anthology, Comics and Power: Representing and Questioning Culture, Subjects, and Communities (Cambridge Scholars, 2015), and a co-edited volume of Image [&] Narrative, “Comics in Art/Art in Comics” (2016). Her current research focuses on both the intermediality and mediality of comics in several socio-historical cultural milieux. Her most recent publications on these topics include “Comics as a Minor Literature” (Image [&] Narrative, 2016), “Social Abstraction: Toward Exhibiting Comics as Comics” (UP Liége, 2017), and Above, Below, Between: The “Graphic Novel” in Literature and Art (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2019).

Mariana Lanari is a Brazilian artist, curator, and editor based in Amsterdam. She received an MA from the Sandberg Instituut, in 2015. She is currently developing her research proposal for a PhD at the University of Amsterdam. She has a band, with Sjoerd Leijten and Katinka de Jonge, in which they compose and perform audiovisual narrations of Finnegans Wake. She is interested in the dynamics of cultural translation, the use of languages and their political implications, zooming in and out from historical perspectives to personal relations. Her work was presented at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, W139, ArtiAmititae, Flam, Van Zijl Langhout Gallery, Punt Wg, De Ruimte, ZSenne Gallery, MUBE — Museum Brasileiro da Escultura, MAM — Museu de Arte Moderna Rio de Janeiro a.o. In the past, she has edited art, fashion and artists books, and exhibitions catalogs. She has curated and produced exhibitions in Brazil, Spain, Italy, and Germany.

Floor van Luijk is a freelance writer and researcher interested in artists' books. He studied Arts, Culture and Media in Groningen focusing on visual arts and comperative arts. He finished Museum Curator MA program in Amsterdam (UvA / VU) in 2017, having curated a number of exhibitions in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and writing a thesis on the democratic implications of artists' books and the work of Ulises Carrión.

Marinke Marcelis (1983) lives and works in Tilburg. She’s working as an artist and philosopher. She studied fine arts at AKV|St.Joost (BA)/the Sandberg Institute (MA) and philosophy at Tilburg University. She teaches both fine art and philosophy at Fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts. 
She’s doing research as a member of a Fontys research group on bildung in higher education, led by lecturer and philosopher Dr. Wouter Sanderse. Her individual research is about the choices that artists make within their process of producing work. On what ground (arbitrary/necessary/based on convictions/preferences/ (imaginary) audience etc.) do they select? What could be learned from the way they deal critically with their gut feeling in a broader context?

David Maroto is a Spanish visual artist based in Rotterdam and PhD candidate at the Edinburgh College of Art, with the thesis The Artist’s Novel: The Novel as a Medium in the Visual Arts. His areas of interest are artistic research (theory and practice-led), fictocriticism, performance, installation, literature, and the artist’s novel. During a residency at the ISCP New York, he met curator Joanna Zielińska and embarked on The Book Lovers. This collaboration has enabled them to engage with a host of international institutions, including M HKA; de Appel; the Whitechapel Gallery; the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw; the CCA Glasgow; and EFA Project Space in NY. David has co-edited the anthology Artist Novels; the artist’s novel Tamam Shud (both Sternberg Press); and Obieg art magazine no. 8, ‘Art & Literature: A Mongrel’s Guide’. Published papers include an interview with Clive Phillpot and 'Words Fly, Writing Remains' (Obieg). He has taught at art academies around Europe, among which the Dutch Art Institute and St. Lucas Academie (Antwerp).

Elize Mazadiego has a PhD in Art history, theory and criticism (University of California, San Diego) with a specialization in Global Modernisms and Contemporary art. Her work explores Conceptualism in a transnational context between 1960s and 70s. She is currently completing a monograph on the topic of Dematerialization in Argentina. Her latest project examines the work of several Latin American Conceptual artists working in Europe on artists books and mail art. She is a member of the International Committee with the College Art Association and she is a contributing writer to Frieze and ArtNexus Magazine. 

Robert-Jan Muller is President of AICA (Art Critics), Nederland. He studied Art History at the University of Amsterdam (Modern and Contemporary Art History).  He is an art critic and a contributor to the Dutch Museumtijdschrift art magazine and Artforum on-line magazine. Several of his filmed interviews with contemporary artists are published on-line. As President of AICA Netherlands (International Art Critics Association) he initiates the Association's regular activities and is involved in the Paris based international AICA Fellowship Fund Committee (member) and the AICA Committee on Censorship and Free Speech (President). At the RadboudUMC (Radboud University Hospital, Nijmegen) he is participating in the project 'The Art of Seeing for the Medical Profession'.  As co-editor he published the book 'The Words and the Images. Text and image in the art of the twentieth century' (Utrecht, Centraal Museum, 1991) and co-curated the concurrent exhibition 'Nightlines'. He has worked as a consultant for the KPN (Telecommunication Company) Art & Design department, responsible for its graphic and 3d design. For several years he has been working as a consultant for art in the public space.

Ninke Overbeek is a playwright of Dutch and English plays, whose work has been staged in multiple theatres, including Theater aan het Spui (The Hague), Het Compagnietheater (Amsterdam) and at the Amsterdam Fringe Festival (Amsterdam). Her latest performance work Limbs recalling limbs was produced and performed by STET The English Theatre at the Royal Theatre (The Hague), and performed at the Universidad Autonóma Metropolitana (Mexico City).

Ninke obtained her MA in Comparative Cultural Analysis at the UvA in 2016. She teaches Dutch and English creative writing and has run seminars at OSL (UU) and for ACPA (Leiden University). She is currently preparing a PhD-proposal with support from the Professorship of Performative Processes at the HKU (Utrecht). In this PhD project, she will explore how creative writing strategies (writing intuitively, freewriting, creative writing as part of a thought-process) are of use within an academic university-level context. Her topic of research will be (collective) processes of loss, grief and mourning, and their moral and political implications. She will explore if valuable knowledge about such processes can be obtained through creative writing strategies. The project will have a distinct focus on sense perception and focalization and will explore if creative writing strategies can expand the available vocabulary on such processes of loss, grieve and mourning. The research project aims to produce a method that can be of use within an educational context at university level.

Miriam Rasch works as a researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Network Cultures, University of Applied Sciences Amsterdam, doing projects on hybrid publishing, the future of art criticism, and the ethics of digital technology. She’s also a critic writing about literature and philosophy and an essayist with an interest in the intersection of philosophy, technology, literature and memoir. Her book on life in post-digital times, ‘Zwemmen in de oceaan’, was published in 2017 by De Bezige Bij. In June 2018 ‘Shadowbook: Writing Though the Digital 2014-2018’, an English collection of experimental essays, came out (open access).

Ilse van Rijn is head (together with Maria Barnas) and tutor of the Approaching Language master program of Sandberg Institute. She is also teaching at the department of Modern and Contemporary Art of the University of Amsterdam. Until 2018 / 2019 she has led the theory program of the Image & Language department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. In 2017 she has defended her PhD on artists’ texts, texts written and produced by visual artists. Her research situates itself at the crossroads of literature and visual art. She has given papers on the subject (MaHKU 2016 / 2017); IAWIS, 2017; ARRG / ASCA 2018) and published on it in Metropolis M and in artists’ publications. She is currently working on a rewrite of her PhD research, The Artists’ Text as Work of Art.

Anne-Rieke van Schaik got her bachelor degree in Art history (UvA), where I searched for historical word-image relationships in art: first in museum panels texts accompanying art works, but finally in the Dutch Golden Age period. She wrote her BA thesis about the classicist book illustrations of Gerard de Lairesse and his art theoretical treatise about title prints (frontispieces). Now, she is combining the research master History and the master Book studies (both UvA).  She would like to focus on early modern books. 

Ulrike Scholtes: I am social scientist and artistic researcher studying ways to know the feeling body. My PhD research situates itself between anthropology (AISSR) and artistic research (Faculty of Arts Maastricht). Deriving from a triple background in arts, anthropology and body work, I study what I call feeling techniques: ways of using the body that both require and enhance sensitivity. I look at practices such as somatic therapy, yoga, haptonomy, Feldenkrais and other forms of body work and show how words and drawings are used within these practice to produce sensitivity. Doing so, I highlight the performative aspects of words and drawings, emphasizing how they are not just representational but facilitate multiple realities, bodies and sensitivities. I explore what can be learned from these sensitizing words and drawings in terms of critically reflecting on and engaging in new ways of performing words and drawings myself as a researcher of sensing bodies. 

Rik Spanjers is a PhD student at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. His thesis, "Comics Realism and the Maus Event: Comics and the Dynamics of World War II Remembrance," focuses on the canonization of Maus and the different ways in which comics has moved forward or away from Maus' aesthetics for historical representation in comics. Spanjers teaches in the Contemporary Dutch Literature and the Media Studies departments of Utrecht University and is the co-founder, with Dr. Erin La Cour, of Amsterdam Comics (, an independent research consortium that organizes academic conferences, master classes, and lecture series. Besides other publications, Spanjers co-edited issue 17.4 of image[&]narrative called: Ingratiation, Appropriation, Rebellion: Comics’ Sociability in the Milieux of Art and Literature

Astrid Vorstermans (lives and works in Amsterdam, NL) is an art historian, and worked in various jobs as a publisher, editor, and bookseller, as well as in international book distribution. In 2003 she launched Valiz, a publisher and cultural agency that addresses critical developments in contemporary art, urban culture and design in a broad and inventive way. Under the Valiz umbrella she works with a broad network of numerous other professionals in the arts and theory.

Interviews (a selection)

  • It's Nice That (London/New York, 2018):
  • Unterweiss (Melbourne/Milan, 2018):
  • Novum, 2017:

This research group is active in the following constellations:


Art and Aesthetics