Friendship (FKAKPO)

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On Friendship and the Political Imaginary


Zoom presentation on comparative case studies of art practices addressing racialized violence in Brazil and the USA, as part of the 2020 Introduction to Art & Politics course.

A new summer course

This is a new distance course taught online, introducing key themes and questions in respect of politics, affiliation and the ontology of friendship with particular reference to contemporary art practices, theories and institutions. This international distance course, delivered in English, is free to EU nationals.

This course, building upon the success of the existing Art & Politics course, is delivered for the first time in 2021, and develops a focused enquiry into friendship as a political and philosophical question within the context of contemporary art.

It is based on three core activities: (i) reading group, (ii) shared intensive with the SVA New York, and (iii) a project development process where participants are invited to develop project ideas connected to the course themes and relevant to the participants’ own practice (e.g., theory, criticism, art making, curatorial work, cultural studies, philosophy or other research across the creative arts and the humanities).

The course is structured in three stages:

Stage 1: Reading group meetings             

Stage 2: “O My Friends, There Is No Friend” joint intensive with SVA

Stage 3: Project development work (19 July - 27 August)


Stage 1:  The reading group meetings

We will meet weekly to discuss a series of readings and screenings that address different aspects of the discourse on friendship with particular focus on the way the discourse o friendship intersects with contemporary politics and artistic practices.


Stage 2 is the core of the course delivery and is planned as the joint intensive with the School of Visual Arts in New York City

“O My Friends, There Is No Friend”

Politics, Affiliation and the Philosophy of Friendship
28 June – 16 July  2021

In the era of the pandemic, which has foregrounded isolation and technologies of remote nearness, as well as the ongoing crisis of racial injustice, it is all the more important to consider what affiliation and friendship mean. For two weeks this summer, the School of Visual Arts in New York City and the HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden will collaborate for a rigorous inquiry into politics, affiliation and the philosophy of friendship.

Considerations regarding what friendship is and means across individual, collective and societal registers, in respect of both cooperative and antagonistic entanglements, have complex and multiple histories. Some would argue that these must be understood in order to realize an engaged ethical life that takes account of principles of affiliation in their diverse expressions as: love, familial affection, extra-familial affection, fidelity, loyalty, consensus, goodwill, recognition, sameness and difference, oppression and freedom, and the intimate opacities of relationality. Here we will consider the politics and ontology of friendship, the metaphysics of togetherness and agency, and survey the apparatus of support structures within the spectrum of filial relations as they are entwined with gender, race and governmentality.

The intensive will engage the question of the friend across discourses, as it is activated across different constituencies. Points of reference include Hegel’s formulation of self-overcoming, mutuality in otherness and relational freedom; Carl Schmitt’s friend/enemy dichotomy; Virginia Woolf’s challenge to patriarchal representations of friendship; and Sibyl Schwarzenbach’s formal political discourse on friendship as a feminist political strategy, among other key terms and texts.

Participants are invited from across disparate yet intersecting fields of practice, including art, philosophy, design, activism and curatorial practice. Through lectures, seminars, guest speakers and collaborative projects, participants will develop a contemporary framework for thinking through friendship in this unprecedented era.

The seminar will be led jointly by Steven Henry Madoff, founding chair, MA Curatorial Practice Department, School of Visual Arts, and Mick Wilson, professor of art and director of studies for Research Education, HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design, University of Gothenburg.

Note: This intensive is fully online and offered through a combination of synchronous as well as asynchronous lectures, discussions and activities.


Stage 3: Project development work

In this third and final stage of the course participants are expected to work independently to translate the issues and concerns explored in Stages 1 and 2 into the context of their own ongoing practice individually or collectively as appropriate. The key focus is on project idea development and the elaboration of a projected programme or process of practice, rather than on the necessary completion of finalised practical production as such.


Course Schedule

Times are CET (Swedish time)

Stage 1: Reading group meetings
(7 June - 25 June)                         

M 7 June 15:00-16:00 Course welcome: agenda for week 1
F 11 June 15:30-17:30 Reading group session

M 14 June 14:30-15:30 Reading agenda for week 2
F 18 June 15:30-17:30 Reading group session

M 21 June 15:30-14:00 Reading agenda for Intensive

Stage 2: “O My Friends, There Is No Friend”
Joint intensive with SVA
(28 June - 16 July)

M 28 June 15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00 Welcome to intensive                
Tu 29 June 15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00                       
W 30 June 15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00                        
Th 1 July  15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00                       
F 2 July 15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00                       

Tu 6 July 15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00                       
W 7 July 15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00                     
Th 8 July 15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00                     
F 9 July 15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00                      

M 12 July 15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00
Tu 13 July 15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00
W 14 July 15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00
Th 15 July 15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00
F 16 July 15,30-17,30 and 19,00-21,00

Stage 3: Project development work
(19 July - 27 August)

Th 22 July 15,00-18,00 Group tutorial
F 23 July 15,00-18,00 Group tutorial

M 9 August 15,00-18,00 Group tutorial
Tu 10 August 15,00-18,00 Group tutorial

M 23 August 13,00-15:00 and 16:30-18,00 Final presentations
Tu 24 August 13,00-15:00 and 16:30-18,00 Final presentations


Reading lists will be published 7 April 2021

Application period is February 19 to March 16 2021. Application via www.universityadmissions.seLinks to an external site.  (for international applicants) and via www.antagning.seLinks to an external site. (for Swedish applicants).

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