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Commissioning and Curating Contemporary Public Art

Master’s level
30 credits (ECTS)


What is the nature of public art? What do the policy-makers, commissioners, curators, artists and other specialists working with public art need to know about this rapidly changing and expanded field of practice? What, if any, are the possible relationships between public art and local democracy? These are some of the basic questions that this course tries to answer.


Throughout the course we will take a closer look at who can commission public art, the processes and frameworks that operate when art is created in, and for, public space and the challenges of curating art in the public realm. We will approach these questions based on conflicting perceptions of public space and public culture, and the highly contested themes of "the public sphere". How can curators, commissioners, diverse publics, communities, artists, and other practitioners effectively move between ideas and ideals of public culture, and the pragmatic contexts of actual decision-making, production, procurement, installation, and planning processes? What do communities wishing to invite public art into their environments, or wishing to instigate public art commissions, need to know in order to pursue their desires and ambitions?
The course also emphasizes the ways in which theory and practice interact, so as not to privilege theory over practice, but rather to look at how different perspectives - rooted in practical contexts as well as informed by critical theoretical analysis - connect to different possibilities in realising art as an integral part of public culture and public life.
A distance course, at advanced level, introducing key issues and practices in working with art in the public realm targeted at continuing professional development for curators, commissioners, policy-makers, artists, communities, community organisers, activists, planners, decision-makers, other professionals, practitioners and publics interested in the questions of commissioning and curating contemporary public art. This international course, delivered in English, in partnership with Public Art Agency Sweden and the University of Arts Helsinki is based on a combination of distance education and participation at two intensive workshops (from a choice of four) in: Gothenburg, Copenhagen and Helsinki.
This part-time course is designed to facilitate professionals and people with existing commitments to access continuing professional development in university education in a flexible manner.
The teaching team includes: Jason E. Bowman, Kerstin Bergendal, Kjell Caminha, Dr Daniel Jewesbury, Suzanne Mooney, Dr Sarah Tuck, Professor Mick Wilson, and special guests.

How to apply

  1. Apply for the course on
    Application period: September 15 - October 15 2020

  2. Submit your work sample through SlideRoom:
    Period to submit portfolio: September 15 - October 22 2020

More information about HDK-Valand - Academy of Art and Design here.

Due to the current situation, the education at HDK-Valand this autumn will be carried out to a limited extent on campus. This means that courses will be held both through distance education and on site in workshops and student workplaces. We are awaiting instructions regarding the spring semester 2021.
A decision will be made by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Gothenburg in November on the basis of recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Sweden due to Covid-19. This means that we, for the time being, cannot say with certainty which parts of the education will take place on campus during the spring and which will be given through distance education.
We also want to inform you that certain courses, or course elements, may not be completed during the spring semester 2021. Stay updated about the University of Gothenburg's guidelines due to the Corona pandemic here.

Prerequisites and selection


Bachelor's degree or equivalent knowledge.

Special instructions for application

Work sample

Upload the following in Slideroom cloud service: 

  1. A letter of intention in English stating why you wish to attend the course (200 to 350 words/max 3500 characters including spaces)
  2. CV with education and relevant merits.

We highly recommend that you complete the uploading of material at least 24 hours before the deadline. It takes time to upload files, and it is your responsibility to complete your application in time. We cannot accept applications not completed in time.

More information about Special instructions for application


Please note: all times are based on Swedish time (CET). You will require a good reliable internet access and headphones. Content from the workshops will also be posted online for course participants to access. Participation in the workshops means that your contributions to discussion may be recorded for this purpose. Students are responsible for their own costs of attending the workshops.

The intensive workshop, involving physical attendance, is chosen from two of the following four options. (It is possible to attend more if you wish, you are expected to attend at least two.) The dates for 2020 intensives are: February 19-21 (Gothenburg), May 13-15 (Copenhagen), September 23-25 (Helsinki) and December 2-4 (Gothenburg).

More information on the facilities in Gothenburg, se the link below.

More information about facilities