Art as Politics

Organizing institution
HKU University of the Arts Utrecht - Fine Art
Course code
Course fee (excl. housing)
€ 450.00
Advanced Master
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Note: This course is fully booked

The BAK Summer School: Art as Politics brings together practitioners involved in art, theory, and social action to collectively think through, learn about, and imagine critical, politically-informed artistic practices that grasp and intervene into the present. Workshops, presentations, study groups, texts, screenings, and lectures focus on alternative (collective) artistic practices, present redefinitions of “publics,” institutional structuring, and art as envisioning and actualizing politics of “being together otherwise.” 

This course begins from the understanding that art has the potential to imagine and enact different ways of being in the world, and that this is intrinsically a political practice. As social, environmental, geopolitical, economic, and technological structures are rapidly rearranging, it is increasingly apparent that new forms of relations and livability, systems of value, modes and sites of distribution, etc. must be forged. With its critical and generative potential to address, create, and experiment, artistic imaginary shows as a vital site and resource for such re-formations. And as ideas, practices, and meanings of resistance, coming together, identity, activist and artistic practice, and collectivity and closeness—as well as notions of artistic production, the (art) institution, and the public—are transforming, many artistic practices develop as inextricable from the political.

The BAK Summer School: Art as Politics brings together practitioners involved in arts, academia, and social action to collectively think through, generate, and invigorate critical artistic practices that work to grasp and intervene into the present. Asking after ways that art is politics, the program centers artistic practices that live in overlapping spaces amongst cultural production, art, aesthetics, and political domains often considered as separate. Through case studies, storytelling, theory, presentations, discussions, workshops, study groups, and exercises, the BAK Summer School: Art as Politics asks about and speaks to art as the cracks, fissures, hacklabs, loopholes, queerings, or illegibilities in which radical (re)workings can flourish. Concepts of alternative and collective practice, contemporary constructions of “we,” institutional structuring, potentials of performative collectivity, looming and present fascisms, etc. are discussed so as to think through the potentials when we conceive of and enact art as politics.

In order to address these subjects, the BAK Summer School turns to art practice, theory, and institutions that work at these ontological and material arrangements. Cultural practitioners involved in arts, theory, and social action convene workshops, presentations, study groups, screenings, and lectures. Programming draws upon BAK research, including current four-year trajectory Propositions for Non-Fascist Living; BAK Fellowship Program, which hosts 10 interdisciplinary fellows each year; FORMER WEST (2008–2016), which developed a critical understanding of the legacies of 1989’s radical resistance to power in order to reevaluate the global present and speculate about global futures; and Future Vocabularies (2013–2016), which attempted to act concrete propositions that explore shifts in the existing conceptual vocabularies within artistic, intellectual, and activist practices.

This Summer School is organized by Maria Hlavajova, Founding General & Artistic Director and Whitney Stark, Curator of the Fellowship Program at BAK. Contributors include 2017/2018 BAK Fellow, researcher Isshaq Al-Barbary, 2018/2019 BAK Fellow, visual artist and activist Patricia Kaersenhout, among others.

This is a discourse-driven course organized by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht in collaboration with HKU University of the Arts Utrecht and Utrecht Summer School.

Limited fee reduction scholarships are available to exceptional applicants otherwise unable to attend. Please inquire at before 10 April 2019.

Course director

Maria Hlavajova


This Summer School is organized and includes contributions by Maria Hlavajova, Artistic Director, and Whitney Stark, Curator of Research and Fellowship at BAK. Contributors will be listed in due time. Contributors include 2017/2018 BAK Fellow, researcher and writer Isshaq Al-Barabary, 2018/2019 BAK Fellow, visual artist and activist Patricia Kaersenhout, cultural historian and worker Nancy Jouwe, among others.

Target audience

This is an advanced, interdisciplinary course designed for artists, curators, art theorists, academics, MA/MFA level or higher students, and professionals in the fields of art and social change.

Study load

Each day will consist of blocks, in which lectures, presentations, workshops, screenings, group work, and/or critical plenary discussions will take place. Participants should expect up to an hour and a half of study and/or site visiting per evening. Before the course, participants will be sent a link to a dropbox containing pre-summer school readings and/or links to explore or view. Participants are expected to have read compulsory materials before the course and to be prepared to actively participate in discussions and workshops. The course will be taught in spoken English. Please inquire for any accessibility concerns.


Course fee
€ 450.00
Housing fee
€ 200.00

Housing through Utrecht Summer School

Please contact the Utrecht Summer School office for any questions about housing.


Limited fee reductions may be possible; please inquire about this possibility before 10 April 2019.


Please make sure to upload your cv and letter of motivation in order to complete your application.

For this course you are required to upload the following documents when applying:

  • Motivation Letter
  • C.V.

More information


Application deadline: 01 May 2019