porträttbild på Cathryn
Photo: Maja Kristin Nylander

Five quick questions for Cathryn Klasto, course coordinator for Contemporary Art and Health


This week, the application round for the fall semester's freestanding courses opened. One of these courses is Contemporary Art and Health, a distance course held in English and led by Cathryn Klasto, researcher, and teacher at HDK-Valand. We asked five quick questions about what makes this transdisciplinary course so unique.

Tell us about the course Contemporary Art and Health, how did the course come about and how long since it started?
− The course Contemporary Art and Health is a freestanding course that first began in 2021 as a 7.5 credit course. To my knowledge, it came about through conversations between the Fine Art and Craft unit at HDK-Valand and the art department at Västra Götaland Region. There are commissioning opportunities within the region’s healthcare environments for artists and the course began as a way of preparing artists for those opportunities. It was also a way to try and produce interdisciplinary knowledge exchange between artists and healthcare practitioners.

Describe what makes the course unique/different in your opinion?
− The course has undergone quite a bit of change and development from its conception. Having moved away from the local commissioning context, it now interrogates a global context of art and health, framing an expanded understanding of both by moving beyond state run institutions and western framings of medicine and health. I think this makes it unique and also more intertwined with the University of Gothenburg strategy of internationalization. The course is also now transdisciplinary, interested in what forms of knowledge, processes and practices can arise through intentionally blurring formal lines between contemporary art and health as well as other perspectives coming from, for example, philosophy, psychology, architecture, and politics.

Tell us about yourself, who are you and what do you do when you are not teaching this course?
− I refer to myself as a transdisciplinary theoretician and artistic researcher whose work operates at the intersection of spatial practice, ethics and technology. I am currently beginning a book project which investigates the interior logics and reasonings of technological objects often referred to as “helpful companions” by big tech and capitalist corporations. Many of these objects draw on particular ideologies of health and what it means to care which I wish to critically examine. In terms of my job here at HDK-Valand, I also teach on the MFA Fine Art programme where I primarily teach the theorisation of publicness, methodological artistic research development and ethics.

Why is this topic interesting and relevant for you?
− Healthcare is a really interesting area of study for me because it can be understood and practiced in so many diverse cultural, social, political and technological ways - from ancestral rituals to AI generative robots conducting surgeries. It is also a constantly changing and shifting landscape in regard to policy and economy; we can zoom in to the micro emotional experiences which influence how we give and experience care and zoom out to the macro power structures which dictate who and how we receive and access healthcare. There is so much possibility for artists and artwork to make known these often obscured dynamics and relations.

Who should apply for the course Contemporary Art and Health? And what will they what will they have learned after the course ends?
− We welcome anyone with an interest in the role of art and the artist in health contexts - you do not need to have any prior experience with either art or health - just a curious attitude and a willingness to participate and discuss your perspectives. By the end of the course, students are critically engaged and have developed their own toolset of approaches to the field which they can apply in professional practice contexts.


Contemporary Art and Health and all other freestanding courses which start in autumn as well as the Master of Fine Arts programme are currently open for applications. The application period is March 15 to April 17.