MAPS – Arts in Public Spheres Master program is a 2-year degree in the visual arts, addressing artists and professionals wishing to question the contemporary artist's relation to the public sphere.
The course offers both practical and theoretical platforms for considering the public sphere in a pluri-disciplinary perspective. It combines a focus on the students' artistic practice and research projects, workshops offering practical experience in realizing projects and interventions in the public sphere, yearly seminars contextualizing the students' participation in group and solo exhibitions, and study trips. The objective is to consider how art addresses different publics, the nature of public participation and collaborative production, approaching a critical analysis of space, and finally the role of the exhibition and curating in the above questions.
Located in the Valais region of Switzerland, the striking natural environment and its location, away from the country's major urban centers, provide an ideal site for detailed on-the-ground studies in the following areas: environmental and land art, socially-engaged and community projects, site-specific artistic and curatorial interventions in the public space, art and the natural sciences, artistic research practice, and work on the dialectic between periphery and center.
MAPS - Arts in Public Spheres is part of Master of Arts HES-SO in Fine Arts, a program that has been designed around three sites: the Haute Ecole d'Art du Valais (ECAV) in Sierre, the Haute Ecole d'Art et de Design in Geneva (HEAD) and the Ecole Cantonale d'Art in Lausanne (ECAL) and is an integral part of the "Swiss Master in Fine Arts Platform", a national collaborative program involving all the Swiss art schools.
MAPS - themes and contents
The Public Sphere: The question of public sphere is explored through a pluri-disciplinary perspective in regards to the address and the reception, to the public made object (a text, a sculpture, etc..) ; to conflictive notions, share and participation, ethic, environmental, context, location, space, architecture – intervention, landscape, private ; eccentricities/decentralization ; cultural studies/postcolonial studies.
Workshops: Maps offers practical experiences on the elaboration of projects in the public spaces, with activities around structuring and the articulation of files, analysis of space and the different options to interact with communitarians logics (social work, ethnology,…). Curators, artists and theorists are invited to present their work and do studio visits with the students.
Artistic research: Maps’ pedagogy is designed around individual researches projects from the students. Seminars about tools and artistic research methodology frame the process during the two years program. Presentations of on going research projects at ECAV, roundtable and symposium will be part of the seminars, related to the public sphere (landscape, performativity, collaboration/participation, eccentricity,..).
Curatorial Studies: yearly seminars are arranged in relation to collective and individual exhibition projects. Visits of institutions and exhibitions, as well as study trip are included the seminars. The aim is to think about various forms of public, participation of the public, critical reading of space, collaboration and realization of exhibitions projects. Two exhibitions per year are organized during the semester juries and supervised by faculty members and invited curators.
The MAPS – Arts in Public Spheres program offers 120 ECTS credits. It is a two-year course with classes three days a week. MAPS faculty comes from a multidisciplinary and international background.
The structure of the program is organized to combine seminars and workshops led by artists, theoreticians and curators, with visits to exhibitions and events of interest, and the development of individual and collective exhibition projects. Students thus devote 60–70% of their formation time to their own work and are supervised by two tutors throughout their course. The final stage of the program is focused on the Masters Thesis and Exhibition.
Individual work, meetings and exchanges with artists and professionals from the art world constitute an important part of the course. Studios equipped with computers and other technical equipment are available, as well as exhibition spaces.