Mission: Art-Space Exchange
an ArtScience research residency at the European Space Agency


Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences dating back thousands of years, yet despite this there appears to be no limit to what there is to discover in our Universe. These days, astronomers and space scientists turn their attention to profound challenges and exciting topics in space science, among them: searching for planets beyond our Solar System – is there another Earth out there? – and revealing the invisible power, complex structures, and extraordinary beauty of our Universe. The questions motivating their research and the techniques that they use also have echoes in other areas of science.

Are you an artist, resident in the Netherlands, and interested in these topics too? If so, we are pleased to invite you to apply for a two-month funded residency with a focus on space science, to be held at ESTEC, the European Space Agency’s establishment in the Netherlands. Applications for this pilot project, run with Science Gallery Rotterdam, are due by 23:59 CEST on 24 October 2021.

The aim of this residency is to bridge art, science, and society in the field of space science by providing opportunities for people from these different communities to share perspectives, practices, and questions on themes of common interest. The winning artist will spend two months interacting with scientists who work on ESA’s space science missions, together exploring one of the two themes proposed in this pilot project. To add a broader perspective, the artist will also enter into a dialogue with biomedical researchers of the Erasmus Medical Center and young people during workshops facilitated by Science Gallery Rotterdam.

Artists from any art form who wish to explore one of the science themes (described below) to inform and enrich their practice are eligible to apply.



Science is at the heart of the European Space Agency. Scientists at ESTEC are involved in a wide range of space science missions with scientific goals spanning the investigation of objects in our Solar System to understanding the formation and evolution of the entire Universe. While some scientists focus on missions that are currently, or soon will be, operating in space, others are looking to the future and considering how to tackle some of the biggest open questions in space science using new technology and innovative mission concepts.

For this pilot project artists are invited to apply for a research residency based on one of the following themes:

  • THEME 1: Worlds beyond our Solar System: One of the most profound questions we can ask is “Are we alone in the Universe?” More than 4000 planets, known as exoplanets, have been discovered outside our Solar System, but none of them are quite the same as our home planet, Earth. A great surprise has been the variety of exoplanets and planetary systems that exist and their characteristics; exoplanets vary in size and in density, their surface temperatures can be so hot that they are covered in molten lava while others are so cold that they are frozen. Lone exoplanets have been discovered as have exoplanets in systems with several other planets. Understanding where this diversity of exoplanets and planetary systems comes from and where it leads to are central to our quest for life beyond our Solar System. Scientists at ESTEC are involved in world-class missions to discover and investigate the nature of exoplanets. Knowing the types of planets that exist, a natural question that follows is “Could life exist on such a planet?” The biological perspective – what are the conditions required for life – can be explored with researchers from Erasmus Medical Center.
  • THEME 2: Many colours, different views – revealing the invisible Universe: Our world view is heavily influenced by the types of images that we are exposed to, with different colours or wavelengths providing very different perspectives. This applies not just to what we experience locally, in the streets and nature around us, but also to objects we view in the skies above – from stars to galaxies out to the extremes of our Universe. Some of the most energetic objects and events in our Universe can seem quite mundane or are even invisible at the wavelengths that our eyes are sensitive to. Viewing them at much shorter wavelengths (for example in X-rays or gamma rays) or much longer wavelengths (such as, submillimetre or even radio wavelengths) and the pictures and information we get are very different and more revealing. European missions have pioneered the investigation of the hidden Universe and scientists at ESTEC are continuing to open new views of the cosmos. Researchers at Erasmus Medical Center use similar techniques in biomedical science to explore the smallest and the most inaccessible details in living beings.



The winning artist is granted a total of 6,000 Euros for the two-month residency, which includes the artist’s fee, all travel and accommodation expenses, as well as the costs of any materials that may be needed during the residency. Local facilitators and an independent curator will be available to support the artist during the residency. The artist is expected to be present at ESTEC for at least 6 of the 8 weeks (* see note).

During the residency the artist will be expected to share their practice and to engage formally with scientists and the broader community at ESTEC by means of artist-led lectures – two seminars, or similar are envisaged – and a workshop or artistic presentation, as well as through the informal day-to-day conversations and interactions. The artist will have ample opportunity to talk with inspiration partners, will be given access to ESA scientists, will have opportunities to visit the research and testing laboratories at ESTEC, as well as being involved in activities such as formal and informal seminars (* see note). The artist is also expected to lead two workshops with young people (aged 15-25 years), ESA and Erasmus Medical Center researchers, facilitated by Science Gallery Rotterdam.

As part of the residency, the artist shall be required to create a tangible record of the ArtScience collaboration developed during the residency. This may take the form of a portfolio or a blog (i.e., a physical or online selection of materials) containing, for example, sketches, photographs, text, video and/or audio recordings capturing the experience of the artist during the residency. This could also include a record of the collaboration in the form of an artwork. The portfolio (the original material or an exhibition-quality copy) and the artwork are a formal deliverable of the residency and shall remain with ESA. The Statement of Work and the ESA General Conditions governing the contract with the artist can be found at https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/artist-in-residence

*Important note: In these uncertain times it may be necessary to adapt the programme to cater for health and safety restrictions, especially those that may be in place to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and to safeguard the health of participants. If this is necessary, practical details and alternative options and dates will be discussed and agreed with the winning artist.



Applications should be submitted on the dedicated Science Gallery page on Submittable.

We welcome applications from artists from all backgrounds and experiences.

The application consists of the following five elements:

1. A personal testimony (option a or b):

  • a. Either a video to introduce the artist, outlining their artistic practice and experience, describing their motivation for applying for this residency with ESA and Science Gallery Rotterdam, and why and how this residency will inspire their work (up to 5 minutes).
  • b. A description of the artist’s practice and experience, including a statement of their motivation for applying for this residency and an explanation of how and why a residency with ESA and Science Gallery Rotterdam will inspire their work. (maximum 500 words; pdf format; may include links to material available online).

2. A description of a possible artistic concept or artistic research, involving one of the themes, that the artist wishes to pursue during the residency. This description should describe a specific outcome of the residency. It is understood that the details may change or evolve as the residency progresses. (Maximum 300 words; pdf format; may include links to material available online).

3. An outline of two workshops to be held with a group of young people (15-25 years of age). We expect 10-20 participants to take part in both workshops. These two workshops will be facilitated by Science Gallery Rotterdam. The description should indicate the artist’s goals for the workshops and describe ideas for how the artist wishes to achieve these goals. (Maximum 200 words; pdf format; may include links to material available online).

4. An outline of a workshop to be held for scientists working at ESA/ESTEC. The outline should indicate the artist’s goals for the workshop and describe ideas for how the artist wishes to achieve these goals. (Maximum 200 words; pdf format; may include links to material available online).

5. A portfolio showcasing up to five works that best represent the artist’s practice (pdf format; may include links to material available online).

6. A curriculum vitae including, where relevant, details of qualifications, previous exhibitions, participation in residency programmes, public engagement activities. Please send your CV to Artscience-Residency@esa.int. See the CV template at https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/artist-in-residence/documentation for an indication of possible content.

The deadline for receipt of applications is: 23:59 CEST on 24 October 2021. The deadline will be strictly enforced; late submissions will not be considered.



Each application submitted for consideration will be evaluated by a Jury of experts according to the following criteria:

  • Aesthetics, originality, and innovative nature of the proposed concept/artistic research at the intersection of art and science.
  • The contribution that the residency will make to the artist’s practice.
  • Expressed interest in the research topic selected for this residency.
  • Demonstrated ability to engage with public audiences.

The Jury, comprising representatives from ESA, Science Gallery Rotterdam and additional experts, will meet shortly after the submission deadline. The selected artist will be informed soon after the Jury decision has been reached. Applicants should be reachable via e-mail and phone between 29 October and 2 November to provide further documents (if necessary, eg evidence of residence/nationality) and to discuss the next steps.

The Jury’s decision will be final. The name of the winning artist will be published on an ESA website.  The artist will be expected to take up their residency on or before 22 November 2021 (* see note).



  • Call closes:  24 October 2021, 23:59 CEST
  • Winner contacted: 29 October – 2 November 2021
  • Start of residency: on or before 22 November 2021



  • English is the main working language at ESA, therefore the artist must be able to communicate clearly in English.
  • Ideally, the workshops for young people, facilitated by Science Gallery Rotterdam, will be run in Dutch, therefore it would be an advantage if the artist can speak Dutch.
  • This residency is open to individual artists (no groups or collectives can be supported for this residency), from any artistic discipline (such as, but not limited to: digital arts, painting, sculpture, dance, video, performance, music, multimedia, photography, writing, drawing, film, but also artists defying categories are welcome), above the age of 18, and resident in the Netherlands.
  • An artist may submit one proposal only. Proposals must be submitted via the online application form.
  • A confirmation message will be sent via e-mail as soon as all required documentation has been received.
  • Only the selected artist will be notified and their name will be published on an ESA website. The decision of the Jury is final.
  • The award of the residency is subject to the winning artist obtaining clearance to work on site at ESA’s establishment ESTEC in the Netherlands.
  • Employees of the European Space Agency, Science Gallery Rotterdam, and the Erasmus Medical Center, and their family members, as well as members of the Jury and their family members are ineligible to participate.
  • The residency is governed by a Statement of Work and a purchase order, which describe the formal deliverables, payment milestones, intellectual property and ownership of any artwork produced as a result of the residency. The Statement of Work and a draft of this purchase order are available at https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/artist-in-residence



For further details, please contact the organisers at: Artscience-Residency@esa.int