February 25, 2013

Material Utopias (MFA / MDes)

Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam
Folkert de Jong, The Thinker, 2011. Styrofoam, pigmented polyurethane foam, 151 x 120 x 140 cm. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij. © Studio Folkert de Jong. Courtesy Folkert de Jong, tutor of the Master course Material Utopias.

For several years now, there has been a notable revival of interest in the material quality of artworks and designs, and a notable revival of interest in traditional crafts. This renewed interest in the material expression of works breaks with a stubborn view: since Duchamp introduced an existing urinal in an art exhibition (1917), art is seen as embodied meaning. Fountain and other conceptual artworks elevated thinking to be art’s most essential ingredient; simultaneously they turned the materialisation, and thus making, insignificant. The programme Material Utopias will challenge this outdated view on the hierarchical relationship between ‘concept’ and ‘making,’ ‘content’ and ‘process.’ After all, the medium in which an artwork, or design, is executed is a major part of its message, narrative or function.

During the two-year course a strong link is created between concepts, materials and making. The future role of materials in art and design will be addressed, first of all by experimenting with old and new materials and techniques (including ceramics, glass, textile, paint, foam and other synthetic materials,…..). While defying conventions and shifting the boundaries of traditional and new materials, ideas for new works are born. At the same time the students will learn to understand the historical and cultural meanings and references of various media, and learn to relate them to larger-scale societal developments, both local and international. The expertise, which the students already have acquired in the past, will be broadened and deepened.

The programme will adapt to the various backgrounds of the students and will create valid cooperation with a fluctuating group of experts, external workshops and with departments within the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. At the start, September 2013, there’s a close relationship with the Bachelor departments of Ceramics and Glass, which means the students can work in well equipped workshops and will be guided by the heads (and technicians) of these departments. Links with other departments will soon follow.

Course director: Louise Schouwenberg. Tutors: A varying group of artists and designers will guide the students, either weekly, or in workshops, or as visiting critics. Tutors in 2013-2014: Folkert de Jong, Bastienne Kramer, Jens Pfeifer, Robert Zandvliet, Hella Jongerius, Eylem Aladogan, Pascale Gatzen, and others. Coordinator: Judith Konz / Wendel ten Arve. 

Material Utopias accepts artists and designers for whom content, making process and visual expression go hand in hand. We expect the students possess already some skills in working with materials and are willing to expand and push their limits, while developing expertise with unfamiliar media. 

Candidate students will be evaluated on their portfolio and motivation. The admission committee will focus on the originality and visual quality in the work presented, on the eagerness of the student to allow material experiments to guide and inform the creative process and his or her capacity to reflect on the making process.

Students who have successfully completed the Master programme Material Utopias obtain a Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA). If the project has led to products, a Master of Design degree (MDes) can be obtained.



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