The Royal Institute for Hydra Studies

Since 2011, the ArtScience Interfaculty at the Royal Academy of the Arts and the Royal Conservatory of Den Haag have organized an exhibition to showcase the graduation works by bachelor and master students in their final stages. The preview exhibition is always headed by a theme, and this year’s is The Royal Institute of Hydra Studies. The Royal Institute of Hydra Studies is a way of presenting 11 different artistic practices in a cohesive manner; a creature of many heads that nevertheless belong to one body. The exhibition will take place on Friday, May 23rd at 20:00, at GEMAK Vrije Academie in Den Haag. The exhibition will continue until Sunday, May 25, 17:00.

The Hydra was a mythological creature that shared the world with people: there was a real fear of its presence. It was a many-headed snake from the marshes of Lerna, whose heads grew back twofold as they were severed by Hercules. In the Greek myth, Hercules overpowers the beast. However, our image of the Hydra has changed over time. The fear and evil associated with the creature has been replaced by a sense of history, and the Hydra became a symbol of determination and versatility. The resurgence of its heads can be seen as a symbol for innovative ideas that keep emerging from a core that is constantly under siege by budget cuts and cultural devaluation by political forces. The many headed creature stands for a gathering of autonomous minds who often have contradictory ideas but nevertheless share a common disciplinary background, and therefore a certain degree of consensus. We honor the heritage of the Royal educational facilities that we attend with the title The Royal Institute of Hydra Studies: we elevate this stubborn mythical creature to a level worthy of serious research, whether it be artistic, scientific or poetic in nature.

Each year, the department of ArtScience releases a new group of graduates into the ever-changing world of art professionals. As graduates leave the fold, new students come to breathe new life into the department, to influence and be influenced by the ongoing experimental spirit of the Interfaculty. The cycle goes on.

The biographies of the 11 graduating artists can be found at

This exhibition is made possible by GEMAK Vrije Academie, Fonds 1818, Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten, Koninklijk Conservatorium te Den Haag, Vedett Beer, and Stichting ArtScience.