MFA Profile

Profile mfa program Academy of Arts and Design/ St. Joost

1. DIALOGUE IN CONTEXT

To make art is to be in dialogue.
Dialogue is physical, visual, emotional, rational.
There is no such thing as a solitary art practice.
Art is responding + addressing + responding + addressing, etc.

Dialogue doesn’t exclude working on your own, doesn’t exclude a voice of your own. But, while working, even all alone, you’re still being addressed by images, texts, voices of others. And you respond to them.

You’re always already in dialogue.
You are never alone.

This motto structures and mobilizes the programme of practice as well as theory.
A dialogical adventure: reading, seeing, evaluating, listening, judging, criticizing, debating.

Our Master of Fine Art aims to further broaden, enrich, and reflect upon functioning as an artist, which also means: facing influence.

2. FACING INFLUENCE

Forty years ago Harold Bloom launched his concept of the Strong Poet. If adjusted to the contemporary his concept still is fruitful, also for this master of fine art course.

Bloom’s book Anxiety of Influence (1973) often has been misread as promoting avant-gardistic body-building: the artist showing off creative ingenuity and casting off the spell of precursors; getting rid of tradition; daring to take a step into the unknown. In short:
the artist free from influence.

Harold Bloom however never advocated muscle-bound creativity. He argues that the Strong Poet must overcome his or her anxiety of influence, not influence per se. It is through the struggle, the agon, with influence that the Strong Poet emerges. Bloom sees this as clearing an imaginative space. This space doesn’t come from nowhere, it comes from a “creative misreading” of the Strong Poets of the past. According to Bloom this may create the “uncanny effect” that the later poet seems to have written the precursor’s work, rather than vice versa.

Now, forty years after Bloom launched his concept, we can no longer think of the artist outside of his or her non-artistic context. We can no longer think of the artistic process as only an internal struggle with the influence of other artists. Economy, the political, ethics, practices of daily life come into play too. Art leaves traces all over the place, and vice versa.

Still The Strong Poet is an inspiring concept, especially for this master of fine arts course.
It is about facing influence, actively and passively.
the artist facing art’s tradition.
the artist facing context.
the artist daring to show instead of showing-off.
the artist facing him or herself.
the artist facing other artists.
the artist facing other people.

Erik Hagoort, advisor theory, June 2011

For two years the course concentrates on the less self-evident aspects of being an artist. The student groups are multidisciplinary. All students also have their own studio as a starting point. In addition, there is a combined programme in which we endeavour to investigate art and the artistic calling as a non-homogenous field of cultural practices. The curriculum emphasizes extra-disciplinary thinking, offers theoretical frameworks, and stimulates a reflective, critical attitude in relation to the art world and the personal oeuvre, which is repeatedly examined for its worth and meaning.

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