Artists-in-Labs Season 2

Video about the artists-in-labs residency exchange 


Art is a source of inspiration for innovative science and vice versa. To connect art and science and generate inspiration, the Enrichment Office has organized more than 580 cultural events and invited more than 220 artists to KAUST since 2010. 

In 2016, KAUST started a partnership through the Enrichment of Office with the artists-in-labs program (AIL) of ZHdK. The partnership brings a collaboration between scientists and artists to enhance the dialogue between art and science and is co-financed by KAUST, Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, and Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). 


Since 2016, the artists-in-labs program brings artists and scientists together in an experimental framework to bring inspiring ideas to the public. It has brought the collaboration between artists and KAUST.

Through the artists-in-labs exchange, Swiss and Saudi artists can apply for a 3-month grant to work with researchers of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) or researchers from Swiss Universities. The next program will take place in the Spring of 2020; more information about this exchange will be available soon. 

This program runs since 2003 by The Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts (ICS), an international transdisciplinary centre for cultural analysis, theory, and history in the arts related to all topic areas of Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK).  Learn more about the artists-in-labs program



From April - June 2019, Saudi artist and architect Nasser Al-Salem was artist-in-residence at ETH Zürich, to exchange ideas, concepts, and methods, and develop an artistic project with researchers of the Department of Materials. The Jeddah-based artist worked and exchanged with researchers of the Complex Materials Group, under the supervision of Professor André R. Studart. Nasser's previous work and the artwork created after his residency have been featured in his first solo exhibition, Amma Baad, in the UK at Delfina Foundation. Amma Baad was on show at Delfina Foundation from 2 July – 10 August 2019, curated by Maya El Khalil and presented in partnership with Shubbak Festival.


The Artist

   Nasser Al-Salem (*1984) lives and works in Jeddah. His artistic work is essentially the Arabic written word; therefore, he is first and foremost a calligrapher. His practice pushes the boundaries of this age-old Islamic art by re-inventing it in non-conventional mixed-media forms, by using a wide range of tools and materials - such as wood, paper, ink, concrete, glass, lighting technology, or silk - and by exploring its conceptual potential. Since his childhood, he has been asking what is the size of a human being in relation to the outer space, what are the parameters of this relationship, and how can humans recognize it. These questions still preoccupy him today, and he is attempting to address them throughout his practice.

Nasser believes that when we turn our attention to understanding this relationship and gain a more in-depth insight into the nature we all are part of, we might live differently. His exploration of concepts relates to scale, the human, and the infinite (or our current perception of the infinite). These concepts aim to make the viewer reflect on the condition of time, space, and the universe as a system beyond all religious and profane components.

He has been nominated for the Prudential Eye Awards 2015 and was artist-in-residence in New York in 2018 and London in 2014. In 2018, the artist’s work was a part of The Royal Commission of Al-Ula’s and exhibited at the Winter at Tantora Festival in Saudi Arabia.



In the autumn of 2018, artist Nadya Suvorova exchanged and developed ideas with researchers of the Division for Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering (CEMSE) at KAUST for three months.

At KAUST, Nadya worked closely with research scientist Qiang Fu -who works in the multi-disciplinary area of computational imaging - and Ph.D. Student Simeng Qiu from KAUST Visual Computing Center. This exchange was supervised at KAUST by Professor Dr. Wolfgang Heidrich - Visual Computing Center Director.

The Artist

Nadya Suvorova is an interactive media artist based in Zurich. At the intersection of art, science, and play, she invents poetic journeys using emerging technologies. She pulls her inspiration from the observation of the natural world. Her interactive works spark curiosity to playfully engage access to and awareness of our natural world through digital media. She has shown her work internationally at the ZKM Karlsruhe, Cité du Design at Saint Etienne, Museum of Arts (MoA) Seoul, Hammer Museum, etc. 

Hidden Dimensions of Light 

Nadya showcased the artwork resulting from her three-month residency at the exhibition Hidden Dimensions of Light organized during the Winter Enrichment Program (WEP) at KAUST. 





In this panel discussion held at WEP 2019, Nasser and Nadya present their work and discuss with film producer Tom Nims and the head of the artists-in-labs program Irène Hediger the concept of time and how do artists represent and interpret it in their uniquely creative way. 



 The artists-in-labs program is brought to you by KAUST Office of Enrichment Programs, Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)