Aarhus Universitets segl

Inquiries into the Political and the Aesthetic (IPA)

About IPA

Expanded Description and Mission Statement

This research unit investigates current theoretical, practical and conceptual intersections and formations taking place between politics and aesthetics framed within a global context. The group asserts that the relationship between aesthetics and politics needs to be understood not as two separate spheres but rather as a mutually interdependent relationship generating a transformative potential.

Therefore, it is our aim to investigate the relationship between politics and aesthetics through the lens of social transformation. Social transformation is here understood as not only a singular, ‘revolutionary event’ but as a spatio-temporal process in which specific artistic expressions and political utterances engage with each other. We aim to stay attuned to how locally situated practices of politics and aesthetics are formulated and contested within, against, and together with urgent, global questions of social transformation.

The organizers of the unit invite researchers on all levels and from all faculties with an interest in the field of aesthetics and politics. Besides the scholarly community of interests, the group seeks to explore inspiring ways of understanding not only our own research projects but the general practice of research within the field of aesthetics and politics on a global scale. We want to create an open space informed by enthusiasm for and the joy of discussion, the exchange of ideas, reading and analysing artworks. The group seeks to explore communal research practices and deliberately ensure diversity when inviting speakers, choosing texts and works of analysis for our sessions.  

Areas of interest:

  • Understanding the role of aesthetic practices as sites of potential resistance towards globally, nationally and locally established systems and structures of power, violence, governance, visuality, citizenship, subjectivity etc.
  • The relationship between political activism and aesthetic activism. 
  • Exploring analytical approaches that are attuned to understand both the local context of aesthetic practices and their transformative potential in a global perspective.
  • Discussing canonical works of theory on the relationship between politics and aesthetics in a global perspective.
  • What does social transformation mean and how does its meaning differ according to context? Can it unquestionably be understood as something “good” (eg. generating individual freedom for citizens, democratic power structures, intercultural understanding etc.).


  • Sessions of focused reading and discussion of theoretical excerpts relevant to the individual projects of the participants.
  • Sessions with joint work-analysis: together we discuss and analyze works of art or literature from our individual projects. 
  • Longer seminars with invited speakers.
  • Open sessions focused around student participation or a broader public (in student bar or other outside locations).

The series In Relation to….

The series In Relation to....invites researchers from the unit or working within its field of interest to elaborate on their professional relation to a concept, a theorist, an artwork or a method which have had a profound impact on their own research practice. The talk will take approximately 40 minutes and be followed by 20 minutes of debate. The presenting researcher can ask the participants to read maximum 20 pages in advance.

Open event


Study group: PRAXIS


The PRAXIS study-group is a monthly forum for discussing, exploring and testing different analytical and practical approaches to cultural objects. Every session will take its starting point in a presentation of 1-2 examples from researchers and their own research practice ­– e.g. an article, an exhibition concept or a conference paper – where a project-in-the-making is presented and discussed using a specific methodological, theoretical or practical approach. The aim of the study group is to engage in collective knowledge processes where new ideas are cultivated and developed in dialogue with fellow researchers. Every session will take approximately 1,5 hours.