Commissioning and Curating Contemporary Public Art

Commissioning and Curating Contemporary Public Art

HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design at University of Gothenburg

Photo: Kjell Caminha.*


September 19, 2023
Commissioning and Curating Contemporary Public Art
Distance course online
Application deadline: October 16
Course dates: January 15, 2024–January 19, 2025
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HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design at University of Gothenburg
Kristinelundsgatan 6-8
SE-SE-405 30 Gothenburg
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Distance course online with intensive workshops in: Lisbon, Portugal; Riga, Latvia; Dublin, Ireland; and Gothenburg, Sweden.

A one-year, long-distance, part-time course, at advanced/masters level, introducing key practices and debates in working with art in the public realm. This is a continuing professional development course for curators, commissioners, policy-makers, artists, communities, activists, planners, architects and other professionals interested in the questions of commissioning, curating, and maintaining/de-commissioning contemporary public art. This international course, delivered in English, is based on a combination of distance education and participation in at least two intensive workshops (from a set of four). Workshops in 2024 will be in Lisbon, Portugal (March 6–8), Riga, Latvia (May 15–17), Gothenburg, Sweden (October 2–4) and Dublin, Ireland (December 5–7). 

The course is free within the EU/EEA area: No fees are charged for EU and EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students. Students are responsible for their own costs of attending the two selected intensive workshops. Admission is based on a letter of intention in English stating why you wish to attend the course and an updated CV.

The teaching team includes: Jason E. Bowman, Kerstin Bergendal, Kjell Caminha, Dr Maddie Leach, Professor Mick Wilson and special guests. 

In previous years guest contributors have included: Barby Asante, Inger Asper Hedemyr, Merve Bedir, David Beech, Bianco-Valente (Giovanna Bianco & Pino Valente), Kathrin Böhm, Beatrice Catanzaro, Viviana Checchia, Francesca Comisso, Julie Crawshaw, DAAR (Alexandro Petti and Sandi Hillal), Åse Eg Jørgensen, Jeannette Ehlers, Galit Eilat, Charles Esche, Patrik Faming, Garry Farrelly, Lena From, Lia Ghilardi, Peter Hagdahl, Deniss Hanovs, Marika Hedemyr, Heidi Hänninen, Solvita Krese, Kristtina Ljokkoi, LOCALES (Sara Alberani and Valerio del Baglivo), Magdalena Malm, Marti Mannen, Paul O’Neill, Inês Nêves, Tone Olaf Nielsen, Henrik Orrje, Daniela Ortiz, Koi Persyn, Andrea Phillips, Esther Regueira, Lisa Rosendahl, RuKollektiv, Nuno Sacramento, Pauline, Salinas, Helena Selder, Jessica Segerlund, Åsa Sonjasdotter, Minna Tarkka, Daniel Terres, Catharina Thörn, transparadiso (Barbara Holub & Paul Rajakovics), Sarah Tuck, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Sonia Xie, Giovanna Esposito Yussif. 

What is the nature of public art? What do the policy-makers, commissioners, curators, artists and others working with public art need to know about this expanded field of practice? What are the processes and frameworks that operate when art is created in, and for, public space? How is public art implicated within spatial imaginaries of rural, urban, exurban, infrastructure, development and the touristic gaze? What do communities wishing to invite public art into their environments, or wishing to instigate public art commissions, need to know in order to pursue their desires and ambitions? Who can commission public art? Who is it commissioned for? What about decommissioning? What about failure? What are the spaces of “publicness” in an era of climate change, population displacement, digital networks, war, and the privatization of space? How can curators, commissioners, communities, artists, and other practitioners effectively move between ideas and ideals of public culture, and the pragmatic contexts of actual decision-making, production, procurement, installation, and planning processes? What, if any, are the possible relationships between public art, local democracy and the political imaginary? Is publicness just another Euro-centric construction of colonial-modernity? These questions are approached through conflicting perceptions of public space, public culture, political imaginary and the contested themes of “the public sphere”. We emphasize the interaction of theory and practice, so as not to privilege theory over practice, but rather to look at how different perspectives—rooted in practice as well as informed by theoretical analysis—connect to different possibilities in realising art as an integral part of public life. Topics in 2023 included: failure and aftercare of public artworks; dismantling of monuments and memorials in different geo-political contexts (beyond the Euro-Atlantic); hospitality as vocabulary in publicness, among others. 

Please note: the online sessions run mostly on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4pm Swedish time (CET). You will require good reliable internet access and headphones. Content from the workshops will also be posted online for course participants to access. Participation in the workshops means that your contributions to the discussions may be recorded for this purpose. 

Intensive workshops
The intensive workshop, involving physical attendance, is chosen from two of four options. (It is possible to attend more if you wish, you are expected to attend at least two.) Workshops in 2024 will be in Lisbon, Portugal (March 6–8), Riga, Latvia (May 15–17), Gothenburg, Sweden (October 2–4) and Dublin, Ireland (December 5–7). Students are responsible for their own costs of attending the workshops.

Application period is September 15 to October 16, 2023. Admission to this course is based on a letter of intention (in English) stating why you wish to attend the course, 200 to 350 words in length, and an updated CV. In evaluating your application, we consider: (i) clarity of purpose in attending course, as evidenced in letter; and (ii) capacity to actively contribute to the group dialogue, evidenced in letter. Applications here: University Admissions (for international applicants) and (for applicants based in Sweden).

Read more about the course: Commissioning and Curating Contemporary Public Art.

*Image above: Walking workshop in Charleroi by Office for Joint Administrative Intelligence (with Gary Farrelly and Chris Dreier), part of intensive workshop in Brussels/Charleroi, 2023.

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HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design at University of Gothenburg
September 19, 2023

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