Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art - Art and Media, Master of Arts (Art and Design)
Language of instruction:
Field of study:
At ViCCA, we provide generous, transdisciplinary and experimental contexts for you to develop individual pathways that are grounded in a combination of art practice, curating and theory, but which extend outside of conventional settings and into an array of social, political, economic, ecological, scientific and technological environments. Such processes are enabled by a supportive community of international students and faculty who view research, practice and teaching in a holistic manner. Central to our aim is to co-craft spaces for learning inquiries that merge, for example: artistic thinking and critical entrepreneurship; material-led practices and theoretical exploration; embodied research and experimental writing—all as much-needed responses to the challenges of contemporary life.
When you graduate with an MA in Art and Media with a major in ViCCA, you may not be immediately able to change the world, but our community will do our best to offer you the collective competences in critical thinking, curating and research necessary for the reinventions of work and life that we need in order to respond to the immediate socio-political and planetary challenges we all face. The evidence that a ViCCA major experience does indeed achieve what it says on the package can be found in the ubiquitous and prolific presence of ViCCA graduates in prestigious, award-winning leadership positions in ever-expanding fields of art and culture and society, in Finland, Europe and across the globe.
A graduate of the ViCCA Major:
- will have a broad understanding of contemporary and emerging practices, artistic research, relevant theory and debates in the international and expanded field of visual culture as well as contemporary art and curatorial practice.
- will be able to contextualize their work in relation to different professional fields, sociocultural phenomena and research frameworks. They have gained seriously-playful, creatively disruptive, agile and social-entrepreneurial attitudes needed for active navigation of creative economies of the 21st century.
- will be able to engage in open research processes in multidisciplinary fields with a scope of basic theory, philosophy, aesthetics to practice-based cutting-edge experimental engagements with art and curatorial practice. They have gained versatile competencies and perspectives that might fill in gaps between diverse fields and societal sectors, address new demands or counteract infrastructural constraints in our current landscape.
- have a good understanding of the groundings for artistic approaches conversing with the societal, ecological, technological, aesthetic, sustainable and intersectional approaches for rethinking, diversifying and enriching contemporary artworld roles, infrastructures and economies. The ViCCA ‘tool-kit’ enables the graduates to devise, initiate, impact and lead cutting-edge, cultural, sustainable and socially responsive initiatives.
- have obtained rigorous, research-based navigation tools which support a reflection of one’s knowledge and practice and enable one to go further on one’s individual path. They have also learned to appreciate and respect the perspectives and practice of fellow students.
- have comprehensive research and writing skills for further academic studies such as doctorate degrees. This is gained through participation in the offered courses and development of the Master-degree theses under the ViCCA faculty supervision.
Language of instruction
The language of instruction is English.
Tuition fees and scholarships
Aalto University’s tuition fee for master’s programmes taught in English is 15 000 euros per academic year. Tuition fees apply to citizens of countries other than those of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
Aalto University has a scholarship programme to support non-EU/EEA citizens who study in a fee-charging degree programme. The scholarship may cover 100% or 50% of the tuition fee.
More information on tuition fees and scholarships at Aalto University is available at the Scholarships and Tuition Fees webpage.
Structure of studies
The MA in Art and Media with a major in ViCCA (120 credits total) consist of the Master’s Thesis, mandatory, advanced and elective courses and professional study subjects ranging from philosophy, curatorial theory and practice to transdisciplinary art & science & technology subjects, ecological and environmental concerns as well as situated & context-based art practices. The curriculum is planned in 2-year cycles, which enables the major to update itself with changes in course offerings. The next two-year cycle is from Autumn 2024 until Spring 2026.
The major’s pedagogical models are focused on sharing of expertise, exploratory learning and artistic research practices in order to create an open conversational and dialogical space and community for learning, acting and debating. The major’s diverse curriculum provides a primer for students wanting to engage in research and practice across disciplinary boundaries and supports possible hybrid outputs by students based on the synthesis of theoretical and research-oriented perspectives with art and curating. The ViCCA major engages students in the research expertise of faculty members which currently include artistic research; curatorial practice; new materialisms; art & science & technology, bio-art; ecologies and non-humans; climate resilience; relational media; feminist practices; experimental and academic writing; narrative environments; art and financialization; art infrastructures, labour and post-work theories. Teaching staff encourage students to regard critical theory and philosophy as radically creative forms of practice, means of breaking down dualisms and revealing an intrinsic interconnectedness of thinking and making, mind and body, natures and cultures. The focus is on theories and practices that demonstrate the central role of art and aesthetics in our life world.
The University also offers students the opportunity to apply to a broad variety of Minor Studies, which are available in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture as well as in the other schools of Aalto University (Science, Engineering, Business, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering).
More information on the programme content and curriculum can be found in the Student guide.
ViCCA faculty offer you dedicated guidance on ways to augment your existing skills via working with what may be familiar fields of study as well as experimental methods of inquiry. Indeed, we actively encourage you to jump into unknown disciplinary waters in order to devise innovative approaches to future artistic research and curatorial work.
Students can choose to specialise in particular areas by selecting major advanced and elective courses according to their background and interests. Additional specialisation is also possible through an internship and study project, which are embedded in the curriculum as elective credits.
A Personal Study Plan (PSP) is created by students together with their PSP advisor, who is a faculty member from ViCCA. The PSP helps students define their own path in line with their interests, expertise and trajectory while aligning these with the requirements of the MA programme. It is also a practical tool for students to keep track of their progress.
The ViCCA major is international and multicultural (all teaching is in English). Many of the ViCCA faculty members have international backgrounds and they have brought in research trajectories and knowledge around visual cultures, curating and artistic practices from around the world. The major has an emphasis on global perspectives and diversity in its curriculum, teaching and learning processes. Moreover, ViCCA courses do not ignore local conditions, this contributes to foreign students’ understanding of the Finnish, Nordic and Arctic contexts while comprehending the major global challenges that we all face today. The international students represent 26-50% of the yearly student intake. [Based on statistics from 2016-2020]
Former ViCCA students have come from Europe (e.g., Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, UK, Greece, Ukraine, Slovenia, Russia, Poland, Estonia, Germany), The USA and Canada, Latin America (Mexico, Argentina, Brazil) and Asia (Iran, Pakistan, India, Japan, Hongkong, Taiwan, Indonesia, China) - and of course also from Finland.
Further study opportunities
Students majoring in ViCCA obtain knowledge and research skills allowing them to continue doctoral studies and career paths in academia, to be employed in universities, institutions and the culture-related sectors of society, as well as become experts within multidisciplinary projects and research groups. They are equipped and capable of perceiving their own unique creative perspectives that open up possibilities for professional careers in the constantly changing and multidisciplinary world.
The ViCCA Major fosters professionals who are facilitators, bridge builders and critical actors that are capable of piloting their way through social and environmental changes. They are contributors to the cultural, institutional and structural diversity of the art sector as well as its future managers, thinkers and influencers.Contemporary societies are moving away and evolving from a focus on single-discipline professions, towards more integrated, interconnected and versatile forms of cultural work. Majoring in ViCCA, you will be well-equipped and capable of working and responding to the emergent, transdisciplinary demands of societies to come, both within and outside of academic context.
Graduates majoring in ViCCA might continue as independent artists for which Aalto University studies provide them with a wide network of national and international connections and options. There are also examples of students who have formed work-based collectives after graduating, becoming valued actors and forming new agencies in cultural and artistic fields. Graduates also find employment in diverse cultural institutions, museums, art organizations, design offices, cultural projects and foundations. Many seek to continue further with academic research and study, or work in related fields of design, communication, architecture, art & science among others (see also Further study opportunities section).
Learning to research together, to play seriously and to support each other across differences is central to the ViCCA experience. Our current and continually-expanding list of student-faculty research topics includes: philosophy & aesthetics, science & technology, new media & digital theory, curatorial theory, art in life, economics and socio-politics, storytelling & narrative environments, science fictions, infrastructures, financialization, post-work theories, climate resiliences, ecological thinking & mental health, new materialisms & more than human agencies, social justice, feminist collaborative practices, somatic practices and politics of care.
Co-operation with other parties
The ViCCA major fosters conversations and collaborations with various national and international actors and institutions via courses, internships, networking actions, and invited international experts. Various opportunities are advertised for students via official communication channels. Previous collaboration partners have included institutions such as Frame (FI), Aalborg University (DK), Bioart Society (FI), Helsinki University (FI), Helsinki Biennial, International Association for Aesthetics, The National Audiovisual Institute, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, University of Arts Helsinki among many others etc. More than any other academic experience, the program provides learning minds with the possibility of cultural equity and engaged pluralism.
The ViCCA graduates; Vidha Saumya and Ali Mehta from the Museum of Impossible Forms Helsinki.
More than any other academic experience, the program provides learning minds with the possibility of cultural equity and engaged pluralism.
Study-option-specific Admission Procedure and Evaluation Criteria 2024
Applicants meeting Aalto’s general eligibility criteria for master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option. The applications to Master’s Programme in Art and Media - Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art (ViCCA) are evaluated based on the following criteria.
|Artistic and/or design practice|
|What is evaluated||Demonstrations of artistic and/or design work or assignments|
What we look for in an applicant/Admission requirements
Artistic, curatorial and/or design practice will be evaluated based on:
|Method of demonstrating competence||Portfolio|
|What is evaluated||Applicant’s further suitability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies/communication skills|
What we look for in an applicant/Admission requirements
Suitability is understood in the Phase I as following:
ViCCA actively encourages applicants from widely diverse backgrounds, both from inside Finland and around the world.
The admission committee will specifically look at the quality of writing (content, conceptual ability, style). We will also pay special attention to the ability to move between theory and practice, to generate thought-provoking ideas and compelling creative expressions of these. We are enthusiastic about applicants who already have an impacting engagement with the world at large.
|Method of demonstrating competence||Motivation letter|
|Relevance of previous studies|
|What is evaluated||Content and quantity in relation to the applied study-option-specific requirements|
|What we look for in an applicant/Admission requirements||BA level degree or similar skills and motivation to study the fields taught in the programme.|
|Method of demonstrating competence||Transcript(s) of records, degree certificate(s)|
|Other areas of competence|
|What is evaluated||Work experience and other acquired knowledge/achievements, non-formal education|
|What we look for in an applicant/Admission requirements||The admission committee will also respond positively to applicants who are initiators and agents of change. We value active social and civil society engagement as well as organizing and networking skills.|
|Method of demonstrating competence||Curriculum vitae, proof of employment|
|What is evaluated||Applicant’s further suitability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies/communication skills|
|What we look for in an applicant/Admission requirements||
Suitability is understood in Phase II as it is in Phase I as following:
The interview will enable a deeper inquiry into these aspects.
ViCCA actively encourages applicants from widely diverse backgrounds, both inside Finland and around the world.
|Method of demonstrating competence||Interview|
The applicants will be first evaluated based on Aalto’s general eligibility requirements. Applicants meeting the general eligibility criteria for master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option.
The selection process for applicants who meet the general eligibility criteria comprises of two phases:
In Phase I, the applicants are evaluated based on the following criteria
- Artistic and/or design practice
- Suitability/Motivation letter
- Relevance of previous studies
- Other areas of competence
Only the applicants who are ranked highest in the preliminary evaluation will be invited to phase II in the selection process.
In Phase II, the evaluation is based on the following criteria
A shortlist of the applicants are invited to the second phase.
The second phase consists mainly of individual interviews. Each applicant will have 20 min for their interview. 10 minutes can be used by the applicant for a prepared presentation of one project, if required.
A possible assignment for the interview may also be the preparation of the presentation of a particular project. The applicants invited to the second phase will be informed about this at least one week before the interviews.
The final selection decisions will be made based on an evaluation conducted in Phase II by ViCCA evaluation committee members as a collaborative and mutually agreed upon decision.
The documents requested from all applicants are listed on the Aalto University website (https://www.aalto.fi/en/study-at-aalto/applying-to-masters-programmes). In addition, applicants to this study-option are requested to provide the following study-option-specific documents:
In the portfolio, applicants include work that showcases their artistic, curatorial, design, or theory related practice and competence. The portfolio must contain three to five samples of the applicant’s previous activity. The portfolio consists of visual material, i.e., presentation of artworks, exhibitions or other projects, and/or text-based works.
Artworks and curatorial or other projects can be presented as installation images, drawings, photographs, other visual material and explanatory texts. The work contained in the portfolio must be catalogued, listing at least the title and/or theme, materials used, size, purpose and year of completion of each piece. The catalogue must also detail where and when the work has been exhibited, displayed or published and what was the role of the applicant. You may include a maximum of five images per work or project. If the work or project is text based or theoretical, a maximum of five pages can be used per work or project.
The applicant’s name, address and phone number and the degree programme applied for must be indicated clearly on the portfolio.
Portfolios can be submitted only in digital form. Applicants should upload their portfolio to the application system in a single PDF-file before submitting the application. The PDF-file may include links to videos (e.g. Vimeo, You Tube), see the instructions about the length of the videos below.
Maximum size for the portfolio is 1.0 GB. Name the file Portfolio-lastname-firstname.pdf.
If you include links to videos, you may include a maximum of five minutes of video material in total. If you include several or longer video works, edit them down so that their duration does not exceed five minutes. Include in your portfolio stills with explanatory subtitles and add a link to the webpage, where the video file is to be found. If the links are password protected please make sure that you include the password in your portfolio.
If you include interactive works, make a demonstration video of key aspects. If you include several interactive works, edit the demonstration videos down so that their duration is maximum five minutes in total. Include in your portfolio stills with explanatory subtitles of the demonstrations. Add a link to the webpage, where the video file is to be found. If the links are password protected please make sure that you include the password in your portfolio.
Applications must include the applicant’s CV indicating personal data, educational background, work experience, exhibitions, publications and articles, awards and grants, study trips and positions of trust. Applicants should upload their CV to the application system in a single PDF-file before submitting the application.
The maximum length of the motivation letter is 4000 characters.
In the motivation letter applicants must explain why they wish to apply to this degree programme, what their particular interests are in the field, and what their hopes and expectations are regarding studies at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The plan should explain the applicant’s personal strengths, areas of interest, artistic and design visions, artwork perspectives and artistic objectives.
Language of application documents
The application documents must be submitted in English.
Learning services of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture
For enquiries regarding programme-specific application documents or studies in the programme, please contact Aalto ARTS Learning Services.
For enquiries regarding the application process, obligatory application documents or English language proficiency, please contact Admission Services.