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Commissioning and Curating Contemporary Public Art

Master's level | 30 credits | Course code: VCUR01

The course is not given as a stand-alone course this academic year, but can be included in the program/course package. For information contact the department.

About the Course

What is the nature of public art? What do the policy-makers, commissioners, curators, artists and other specialists working with public art need to know about this rapidly changing and expanded field of practice? What, if any, are the possible relationships between public art and local democracy? These are some of the basic questions that this course tries to answer. 

Throughout the course we will take a closer look at who can commission public art, the processes and frameworks that operate when art is created in, and for, public space and the challenges of curating art in the public realm. We will approach these questions based on conflicting perceptions of public space and public culture, and the highly contested themes of “the public sphere”. How can curators, commissioners, diverse publics, 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 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?

The course also emphasizes the ways in which theory and practice interact, so as not to privilege theory over practice, but rather to look at how different perspectives - rooted in practical contexts as well as informed by critical theoretical analysis - connect to different possibilities in realising art as an integral part of public culture and public life.

A distance course, at advanced level, introducing key issues and practices in working with art in the public realm targeted at continuing professional development for curators, commissioners, policy-makers, artists, communities, community organisers, activists, planners, decision-makers, other professionals, practitioners and publics interested in the questions of commissioning and curating contemporary public art. This international course, delivered in English, in partnership with Public Art Agency Sweden and the University of Arts Helsinki is based on a combination of distance education and participation at two intensive workshops (from a choice of four) in: Gothenburg, Copenhagen and Helsinki.

This part-time course is designed to facilitate professionals and people with existing commitments to access continuing professional development in university education in a flexible manner.

The teaching team includes: Jason E. Bowman, Kerstin Bergendal, Kjell Caminha, Dr Daniel Jewesbury, Suzanne Mooney, Dr Sarah Tuck, Professor Mick Wilson, and special guests.

Previous guests: Johanna Adebäck, Merve Bedir, Dave Beech, Kathrin Böhm, Julie Crawshaw, Galit Eilat, Eva Eriksdotter, Charles Esche, Lena From, Sofie Grettve, Peter Hagdahl, Sarah Hansson, Marika Hedemyr, Kenneth Hermele, Sandi Hilal, Anna Högberg, Inger Höjer Aspemyr, Magdalena Malm, Martí Manen, Lotta Mossum, Paul O’Neill, Henrik Orrje, Alessandro Petti, Andrea Phillips, Andreas Roth, Nuno Sacramento, Catharina Thörn, Transparadiso (Barbara Holub & Paul Rajakovics), Jan Turvall, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Martin West and Joanna Zawieja.


Please note: all times are based on Swedish time (CET). You will require a 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 discussion may be recorded for this purpose. Students are responsible for their own costs of attending the workshops.


The intensive workshop, involving physical attendance, is chosen from two of the following four options. (It is possible to attend more if you wish, you are expected to attend at least two.) The dates for 2020 intensives are: February 19–21 (Gothenburg), May 13–15 (Copenhagen), September 23–25 (Helsinki) and December 2–4 (Gothenburg).

More Information

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Course Syllabus


Tuition Fee

Please contact the department.
EU/EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students do not pay fees. More information on:

Study Guidance


HDK-Valand - Academy of Art and Design
Box 131
40530 Göteborg
Visiting address: Kristinelundsgatan 6-8

Phone: 031-786 10 00

Page Manager: Pontus Sundén
Last update: 2/18/2020 2:41 PM

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Page Manager: Pontus Sundén|Last update: 10/16/2018

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