February 9, 2017

MFA without a master class

Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)

Jérémy Ayer and Niels Wehrspann. Installation view of ZHdK MFA Degree Show 2016.

At the Master of Fine Arts at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), the traditional “Meisterklasse” has been abandoned for a polyphony of voices. Different groups are formed out of the MFA faculty: the artist, the thinker, the writer or the historian, analyzing together the works and processes developed by the MFA students. This multifaceted discussion, conducted in German as well as in English, avoids mere criticism or superficial agreement and prepares artists for the complexity of the contemporary art field. Running parallel to this structure are courses and workshops organized inside and outside the ZHdK, both in Europe and around the world. Continually renewed every semester, the courses and workshops offered are run by a variety of full-time faculty, guest teachers, international lecturers and artists. Self-organization is also implemented in the ZHdK MFA coursework, encouraging collective practices in the form of micro-projects defined and assessed by the students themselves. A written thesis as well as participation in a Degree Show complement these pedagogical formats, ultimately shaped by the students’ art production and course involvement.

The ZHdK MFA occupies a singular position in the international art education system, precisely because materiality, discursivity, object and language are assembled, produced and reflected simultaneously. The main aims of the MFA are to promote and deepen individual and collaborative approaches to artistic practices, and their various strategies and procedures. Artists, organizers, curators and theorists are encouraged to rethink their function according to their envisioned art piece or process. The program aims to foster the development of creative individuals capable of criticality and who possess in-depth knowledge of the artistic field through engaging de facto in a reflection on culture and society.

Distinctive features
–Collaborative / Group applications are welcome.
–Besides developing an artistic practice, candidates may also specialize in theory (i.e., the theory of culture, art and aesthetics) or artistic research.
–The program is open to candidates holding a Bachelor’s degree in any field of study offered at institutions of higher education, provided that candidates satisfy all other admissions requirements.

ZHdK – Toni Areal
Zurich University of the Arts is one of the richest state-funded art schools in Europe. While firmly established in an industrial and recently gentrified area, ZHdK’s influence extends well beyond Switzerland to a wider and international stage. The school comprises state-of-the-art facilities in the Toni-Areal, including production workshops, exhibition and performance spaces. A strong network of ties with the international art community is reinforced by the cohabitation and interaction of eight departments within the same building: Art Education, Design, Film, Fine Arts, Music, Dance, Theater and Transdisciplinary Studies. MFA students, depending on their practice, have access to multidisciplinary teaching, while Zurich, one of the densest cultural areas in the heart of Europe, also generates institutional, independent art space and gallery networks.

Permanent faculty members include artists Donatella Bernardi (intersectionality, exhibition and publishing strategies), Christian Hübler and Yvonne Wilhelm (knowbotiq, digital, post-electronic and post-colonial art), Dominique Lämmli (painting, drawing and global art), Uriel Orlow (post-medium and conceptual art), Christoph Schenker (artistic research) and Erik Steinbrecher (artists’ books and objects); philosophers Jens Badura (aesthetics and philosophy of culture) and Gerald Raunig (post-structuralism and post-operaismo); art historian Laura Arici (Western art and Eastern religions) and cultural and media theorist Giaco Schiesser (Derrida’s “University without condition”).

Teaching assistants include Johanna Bruckner (queerness, performance and video), Philip Matesic (social practice, reading groups and conversations) and Olivia Suter (sound and computer art).

Visiting faculty members include artist Shirana Shabazi (photography and installation), curator Cathérine Hug (Kunsthaus Zurich) and art dealer Jean-Claude Freymond-Guth (Basel)

Director of the ZHdK MFA: Donatella Bernardi

Admission requirements and registration application


MFA without a master class at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)

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