On 6 July 2018, Rachel Borovska received the KABK BA Thesis Award for her thesis First Encounters: Landscapes and Morality. Borovska graduated from the Interior Architecture & Furniture Design department. Her thesis supervisors were Ernie Mellegers & Sanne Paper.

Jury statement:

”The jurors were captivated by Borovska’s thesis, which explores the tensions and convergences between our natural and manmade environments and the systems we use to categorise and interpret them. Using her personal experience of the Slovakian countryside, where she grew up, and of The Hague, where she now finds herself studying as a designer, Borovska combines deep research, theoretical reflection, and the precise use of language to make a sophisticated interpretative reading of the city and its spatial organization systems as an integral part of the natural landscape. She hopes that her research will be useful to urban planners, architects and artists in their engagements with the urban environment. The design of the book is gorgeous and the relationship between prints and the text is especially well considered”.

Rachel Borovska. First Encounters: Landscapes and Morality. KABK, 2018.


This year, Valentino Russo received the KABK MA Thesis Award for his thesis The Sweet Escape. Russo graduated from the Master Artistic Research. His thesis supervisor was Jasper Coppes.

Jury statement:

”This was a unanimous winner. The jurors believe this to be a fantastic example of a thesis that represents both a personal quest on the part of the author to come to terms with the philosophical complexity of what it is to create as an artist and as a human being, but also one that, through deep and challenging insights, makes a significant contribution to knowledge and expands the discourse of the artistic research paradigm. Russo explores the dichotomy between the human urge to define, to systematize, to inscribe events in structures and form meaningful narratives in order to make sense of existence, and on the other hand, the desire and need for escape, rupture, and the possibility for things to be arbitrary and senseless. Russo takes us with him on an intellectually thrilling journey between these two poles of the human condition and leaves us with the suggestion that holistic meta discourses might present a way out of the nihilistic feedback loop of contemporary culture. The argument is conveyed in vivid, humorous and engaging prose and proceeds in a spiraling rather than linear motion, through art history, literature, popular culture, altered states of mind, drugs and dreams”.

Valentino Russo. The Sweet Escape. KABK, 2018.


The jury gives a special commendation to Sydney Rahimtoola from BA Photography for an exciting thesis that explores the contemporary engagement with racial body politics through the wearing of hair braids.

Jury statement:

”Rahimtoola analysed African-diasporic hair styles, including braids, works by hair stylists, photographers, and artists, the commodification and mainstream appropriation of these hair styles, and the online discourse that surrounded the topic. Dealing with such a contemporary topic that is constantly in flux is challenging and Rahimtoola handled the material with maturity and openness. The thesis takes a questioning approach to the subject matter and to her own position as a photographer within it; and is both brave and vulnerable. We felt as if we were taken on a journey through the subject matter and through the artist’s thinking in relation to it”.

Sydney Rahimtoola. Undo. KABK, 2018.


This year the jury of the KABK BA and MA Thesis Awards consists of Maria Pask, artist, tutor at KABK Fine Arts department and PhDArts supervisor; Irene Müller, curator/head Registrar Department at Museum Voorlinden; and Alice Twemlow, KABK Design Lector and Associate Professor at Leiden University and chair of the jury.


  • ArtScience - John E. Sandli: Droopy-Eyed Illuminati Pyramid Scheme
  • Fine Arts - Florence Marceau-Lafleur: ⁞ } ·
  • Graphic Design - Josephine van Schendel: Gaia’s Triad. The Gardener, the Cavewoman and the Witch: An Allegory of the New Wild, Primal Being & Fleshy Hardware
  • Interactive/Media/Design - Samira Saidi: Inviting Silence: Gaps In The Contemporary Western Archive
  • Interior Architecture & Furniture Design - Rachel Borovska: ;First Encounters: Landscapes and Morality
  • Photography - Sydney Rahimtoola:Undo
  • Textile & Fashion - Joana Schneider:(Con)temporary memorials. Commemorating in the digital age
  • Artistic Research - Valentino Russo: The Sweet Escape
  • ArtScience - Koenraad L. de Groot: SISE
  • Interior Architecture - Goda Verikaite: how to recycle utopia + 10 stories how to inhabit utopia
  • Type and Media - Lisa Huang: Caasloon – a revival of Mediaeval, a revival of Caslon