Video about the artists-in-labs residency exchange 


As part of KAUST Academic Affairs, the Enrichment's Office mission is to enhance the students' experience and to expand their horizons, as well as to enrich the broad community.  

Art is a source of inspiration for innovative science and vice versa. Immersing oneself inside the creative worlds of multimedia artists, painters, musicians, filmmakers, or even the mere act of experiencing something different than the ordinary can result in innovative new scientific ideas. For that reason, the Enrichment Office has organized more than 285 cultural events and invited more than 235 artists to KAUST since 2010. 

To connect art and science, 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).



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

Since 2003, the artists-in-labs program (AIL) has been facilitating artistic research by way of long-term residencies for artists in scientific laboratories and research institutes in Switzerland and worldwide. It is part of the Department for Cultural Analysis at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). It promotes sustainable transdisciplinary and cross-border collaborations as well as the development of new knowledge by providing artists with an opportunity to critically engage with the sciences and their experimental and aesthetic dimensions. This includes explorations of the site of the laboratory, as well as a range of scientific topics, methods and technologies. Publications and short documentary films record the processes and results of these collaborations and offer reflections on them.

All the collaborations the artists-in-labs program produces are presented at various national and international exhibitions, symposia, and workshops, making it possible to share findings and ideas and to provide open discussions and aesthetic experiences to students, peers, and to the public.

 Learn more about the artists-in-labs program

The processes and results of the KAUST-Swiss Residency Exchange 2016 – 2019 were presented at the 7th edition of 21,39 Jeddah Art 2020 at the Rubat al-Khunji in Al Balad, Jeddah.



SEASON 1 (2016-17) - Organized at KAUST by BESE Division



Marie Grismar at KAUST Red Sea Research Center (CEMSE Division) 

Marie had the opportunity to learn in detail about the habitat of corals, and therefore the requirements for durable artificial coral structures. She worked closely with both the marine scientists and the lab staff, learning from their research, exchanging ideas and theories, and joining them on field trips. Find out more.

Sandra Kühne at KAUST Red Sea Research Center

Sandra looked for ways to show themes of interaction, balance, and symbiosis through her art during her exchange at the Integrated Ocean Processes Research Group lead by Prof. Burton-Jones. Find out more.



Zahrah Alghamdi at the Stream Ecology Group - Eawag University, Switzerland

Zahrah Alghamdi accompanied the Stream Ecology research group - led by Prof. Christopher Robinson - on three excursions to the Roseg Valley in the Engadine during her residency at Eawag. Find out more.

Muhannad Shono at the Drinking Water Microbiology Group - Eawag University, Switzerland

Muhannad worked within the Drinking Water Microbiology Group, lead by Dr. Frederik Hammes. Based on his exploration of the scientific research on Bacteria, he developed his fictional organism. Find out more.


SEASON 2 (2018-19)


Artist Nadya Suvorova at the KAUST Visual Computing Center

Nadya exchanged and developed ideas with researchers of the Division for Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering (CEMSE) at KAUST for three months. Find out more


Nasser Al-Salem at the Complex Materials Group, ETH Zurich

Nasser exchanged ideas, concepts, and methods to develop an artistic project with researchers of the Department of Materials at ETH Zurich, Switzerland.  Find out more


SEASON 3 (2020)



Artist Julian Charrière at the Red Sea Research Center, KAUST

During three months, Julian will exchange and develop ideas at the Red Sea Research Center with Prof. Francesca BenzoniFind out more




 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)