Thursday February 2, 2023, the AHK Research Centre organized the Day of the Teacher / Researcher. Open to all researchers within the AHK, at any stage of their research, at any level of education. This year’s theme: interdisciplinary encounters regarding accessibility and neurodiversity. Curator: AHK postdoc researcher Marijn de Langen.

There is a wealth of research going on within the AHK, and there is a lot of urgency and dedication in the projects that we execute. This day offers the opportunity to get together throughout the different academies, and exchange about the content of our research and our working practices, opening a space of joint exploration.

Impression of the day

  • shy* play experience provided by teacher-researchers Aster Arribas and Antje Nestel
  • photography by Jonathan Andrew


Part 1: Research on accessibility and neurodiversity

In this first part of the day participators experienced four different research projects from different academies together in one installation. All of these projects deal with questions around accessibility and neurodiversity.

shy* play workshop (Academy of Theatre and Dance/ HvA)

shy* play is a research lab founded by teacher-researchers Aster Arribas and Antje Nestel (ATD/HvA/Co ECI). shy* play departs from the urgency to reflect and craft from the hindrances that the dominant art world’s contexts and approaches have presented us with: In our experience, shy, introverted and neurodivergent manifestations suffered under the regime of extraversion which has become the standard method for artistic experimentation and sociality formation. In response, this project asks: can shyness, introversion, and neurodivergence be a means for creative and experimental sociality formation? The laboratory explores the intersections between art practice, (un)learning, and neurodivergence through the creation of relational techniques in the form of collaborative events. These events invite participants to experiment with the potentiality of shy* aesthetics together-otherwise.

ArtsSciences in a secondary special high school (Art Education)

This qualitative evaluation study by researcher and coordinator Sanne Kersten (Arts Education research group) examines how pupils in a secondary special high school experience an ArtsSciences lesson series (education at the intersection of art, science and technology). Which design principles help develop this type of education? How did the pupils and the teachers experience the lessons? Did it match the talents and interests of pupils with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)? 

Drumming + autism (Conservatorium van Amsterdam)

Guy Pek is a drummer who is writing his master thesis at the Conservatory on the effects of drum lessons for people with autism and related neurodivergents. At the moment he is doing a case study with youngsters at Orion College Amsterdam (special education), with help from Stichting Tamino. He hopes this research might eventually result in a method for drum lessons for people with autism and related neurodivergents. Some key aspects in his research are the relationship between motor skills and social skills, self-other representation, and the mirror neuron system.

Dreaming access, horizontal intimacy (Academy of Theatre and Dance)

This ongoing collaboration between costume scenographer Carly Everaert and singer Mira Thompson, stems from Carly’s critical theory classes (ATD) in which Mira also teaches a class on Disability Theory and Disability Justice. Mira and Carly explore the topic of Access Intimacy, a term coined by Korean American thinker and educator Mia Mingus. Through a highly personal and poetic letter exchange, written for Change Now, they dream and fantasize more accessible worlds.

Part 2: Research encounters

In the second part of the day, three very diverse research projects from across our University of the Arts were presented side by side. After three separate short presentations we speculated about what happens in the intersections between these projects. Where do they meet? How do these research projects open up thoughts on how we are imagining futures in our art education?

Mimi Mitchell (Conservatorium van Amsterdam) spoke about her research project Early Music in the 21st Century, in which she deals with the challenges of presenting new methodologies, (non) historical instruments, modern technologies, changing historiographies and new pedagogical perspectives to an "old-fashioned" field.

Roos van Berkel & Esther Snelder (Academy of Theatre and Dance) shared their joint research project Perceiving counterforce, which isan interdisciplinary research project between mime and dance that explores the perception and ambiguity of counterforce through word, image and movement.

S†ëfan Schäfer (Breitner Academy) talked about his starting art-based research doctorate ‘Breaking Apart Together: Performing speculative design with dying mountains and glaciers’. He investigates what role speculative design can play in enabling humans and non-humans to face and respond to the death of glaciers and mountains due to climate crisis, linking speculative design to performance and ritual.

More info about these research projects or more info about AHK research?