Doctorate & Research


There has been intensive research activity at Le Fresnoy ever since its creation. This has included both theoretical work, notably with the organisation of numerous international symposiums and seminars, and the development of relations and agreements with university research units involving artists and scientists.

Over the last ten years, particularly, a number of initiatives have been taken with a view to bringing closer together scientific research and civil society (designers, entrepreneurs, citizens).

In 2011 Le Fresnoy inaugurated a doctoral programme designed for those who wish to integrate a more speculative dimension into their artistic activity. Comprising theoretical and methodological research, leading concurrently to the creation of an artwork and a short thesis (about 150 pages), this option is offered during the first year of the course taken by students at Le Fresnoy.

Philosophy of research at Le Fresnoy

Unlike other art schools, where teaching is usually the responsibility of a permanent staff, students at Le Fresnoy are taught by an annually renewed group of guest artists and consultants. This specificity is the base of an original educational model in which different initiatives come together and involve researchers of varying kinds.

At Le Fresnoy, research is defined without reference to a particular discipline: the school envisions this activity as having its own autonomy in relation to whatever methodologies might derive from a given discipline or field of knowledge. Rather than being placed within a specific disciplinary field, therefore, research themes emerge naturally from the singular projects developed by the doctoral students and the propositions put forward by the artists and scientists involved in this activity.

Another specificity of Le Fresnoy compared to the world of academic research, is its capacity to produce the works conceived and developed by the artists.

Doctorate in artistic creation

Since 2011, Le Fresnoy has been working with its “historic partner,” the Université du Québec à Montreal (UQAM), on a coordinated and codirected doctorate in artistic creation aimed at students from the two institutions. This involves a specific curriculum which combines methodological and thematic seminars at UQAM with the creation and production of works at Le Fresnoy, and a thesis prepared and defended under the supervision of two co-directors, one at each institution.

A second partnership, with the Université de Lille, gave rise to an agreement between the two establishments in autumn 2018, when a first student was selected for this course.

This programme does not involve any pre-defined lines of research but is shaped by the individual propositions put forward by the candidates themselves.

Doctoral these examined so far

SMITH, under the co-supervision of Louise Poissant and Claire Denis (UQAM – Le Fresnoy): “Le statut ontologique du sujet déconstruit et re-produit à travers la performativité artistique” (“The ontological status of the subject deconstructed and re-produced through artist performativity”)

Joachim Olender, under the co-supervision of Catherine Perret and Jean-François Peyret (Université Paris 8 – Le Fresnoy): “Le cinéma à l'épreuve de la faille ou la mise en place d'un système topographique du sensible par la machine cinéma” (“Cinema as the testing of the fault line or the setting up of a topographic system of the sensible by the cinema machine”: thesis examined on 8 December 2018)

Isabelle Prim, under the co-supervision of Joanne Lalonde and Jean Narboni (UQAM – Le Fresnoy): “L’archive comme commencement et commandement de la fiction au cinéma, comment le montage la re-présente” (“The archive as beginning and ordering principle of fiction in cinema. How it is re-represented by editing”: thesis examined on 28 March 2019)

Theses underway in the 2019 programme

Anna Biriulina, under the co-supervision of Valérie Boudier and Géraldine Sfez: “Virtual Reality, Archive Imagery, and Collective Memory: Ghosts in Contemporary Digital Arts”

Marie Lelouche, under the co-supervision of Anne Bénichou and Patrick Jouin (UQAM – Le Fresnoy): “Une médiologie du sampling au service d’un renouvellement de la pensée sculpturale” (“A methodology of sampling serving to renew sculptural thought”)

Vir Andrès Hera, under the co-supervision of Vincent Lavoie, artistic co-supervisor to be defined (UQAM – Le Fresnoy): “Souvenirs d’Occident, ou le statut et la co-fabrication des représentations hybrides issues des sociétés post-coloniales en Occident” (“Memories of the West, or the status and co-fashioning of hybrid representations arising from post-colonial societies in the West”)

Marie Sommer, supervised by Marie Fraser, artistic co-supervisor to be defined (UQAM – Le Fresnoy): “Face à l'archive, stratégies de relecture artistique” (“The archive: strategies for an artistic rereading”)

Cindy Coutant, under the co-supervision of Nathalie Delbard and Julien Prévieux (Université de Lille – Le Fresnoy): “Pratiques du contre-dispositif en milieux numériques” (“Practices of the counter-apparatus in digital environments”)

In return, two doctoral students from UQAM, Guillaume Vallée and Alice Jarry, (Études et Pratiques des Arts), were hosted at Le Fresnoy.

“Art / science / society” research groups


A research group was inaugurated in October 2018 on the theme of “The human to come.” This international group brings together several different institutional partners, including Sciences Po Paris, University College Dublin, the École Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris, the École des Hautes-Études en Sciences Sociales and La Non-Maison art centre. Since the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year, talks, study days, dialogues and public discussions as well as other working meetings have been organised in order to both programme and prepare an international symposium planned for March 2020, as well as an exhibition that will be held at Le Fresnoy during the same period.

Scientific coordination:
Joseph Cohen, Olivier Perriquet, Raphael Zagury-Orly


  • February 4, 2019 - Rencontre au Centre Culturel Irlandais - Program
  • May 20, 2019 - Rencontre au Fresnoy - Program
  • June 26, 2019 - Rencontre au Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature - Program
  • February 8 to April, 26 2019- Exposition au Fresnoy "L'humain qui vient"
  • End of March - Colloque au Fresnoy "L'humain qui vient"


In autumn 2014, with the support of the Fondation Carasso, Le Fresnoy set up a research and creation group designed to catalyse exchanges between artists and scientists from different disciplines through the sharing of knowledge and know-how. From 2014 to 2017 this group met every three or four months for sessions lasting several days. Their overall theme, which each participant interpreted in the light of their own experience and practice, was “the uncertainty of forms.”

Each meeting was also an opportunity to share knowledge in the form of presentations made within the group, so that participants could develop mixed art-science collaborative projects. Several presentations were made to the students at Le Fresnoy. These were attended by students in their final year, especial those taking the doctorate in artistic creation, who also presented the latest developments of their own projects.

The group produced a set of theoretical and artistic projects, which were shown in Le rêve des formes, Art, science, et cie (“The Dream of Forms”), the exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo celebrating the first twenty years of Le Fresnoy (14 June–10 September 2017) and at a closing symposium, held at the Collège de France on 5, 6 and 7 September 2017.

The exhibition and symposium were each accompanied by a publication: a special issue of Le Magazine du Palais de Tokyo (no. 25) focusing on the exhibition, and the proceedings of the symposium (Editions du Seuil).

Hosting scientific researchers

To accompany future developments at Le Fresnoy, two initiatives were implemented at the start of the school year in 2018: the integration of a young scientific researcher, to play a full role in the teaching activities for artist-students; and the involvement of scientific researchers to help guide the students throughout the course.

These two initiatives are experimental first steps toward broadening the spectrum of activities at Le Fresnoy. They allow us to observe the interest taken by scientists in Le Fresnoy and to anticipate the forms and practices of interaction between artists and scientists.

A resident scientific researcher at Le Fresnoy

Le Fresnoy is inviting applications from scientific researchers and doctoral students who wish to work on a project related to their research activity and to do so within an artistic environment. The winning project will be scientific, or on questions of interest to science, and the chosen researcher will contribute to the course alongside the artist-students and enjoy access to the same means of production.

Scientific consultancy for artist-students

Since 2018 Jean-Philippe Uzan (astrophysicist) and Annick Lesne (physicist, biologist) have been acting as consultants during the course. They are available for personalised meetings to provide students with guidance on their projects.

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