From the students’ perspective, the studios are the basic and most visible organizational units of the faculty. The students apply to studios, take entrance exams, and meet their supervisors already during the open days and preliminary consultations. The pros and cons of the studio form of teaching at art schools are currently subject to an intense debate. Art school studios and the associated ‚master model‘ have a long tradition going back to the nineteenth century, but their alternatives have also been known for a long time. More open systems, in which students do not gather in small, relatively closed circles around their ‚masters‘, developed in the avantgarde schools, and their variations have continued to grow since the 1970s to the present day. Also, some of the foreign partner schools of the FFA BUT offer an alternative where the students do not choose studios, but rather individual courses or blocks of courses.
FFA, like other art schools in the Czech Republic, has so far stuck to the model of studio teaching. Its advantages include the opportunity to learn and work in a closer and more stable circle of fellow students and the possibility of building longer-term relationships where it is not necessary to constantly redefine oneself. These strengths are increasingly combined with project-based learning, the involvement of guests and external consultants, and experimentation with horizontal and collaborative forms of working. FFA also systematically supports both intra- and inter-university mobility of learners. From the second semester of studies, the students can intern in other studios of the faculty and carry out study visits to universities in the Czech Republic and abroad. The studio thus remains a solid base on which one can rely but by which it is not necessarily bound.
Studio profiles are an essential part of the public presentation of the faculty. Behind the general names, such as painting studio or performance studio, there are specific pedagogical concepts that naturally change when the tutors in studios change. The studio profiles are listed alphabetically. Their order deliberately does not reflect the history of the gradual expansion of the studios or the structure of the fields in which subparts of individual related studios are clustered. We emphasize by this ordering our belief that the identity of studios is today primarily subject to a certain ‚negotiation‘ between the tradition inscribed in their names and the specific authorial positions and pedagogical approaches of their heads.
“We emphasize the relationship between art and the environment”
Environment has recently become a trendy word, being often used in connection with the environmental crisis. However, in the studio of the same name, the term “environment” is understood not only as a designation of what surrounds us. For the heads of the studio, environment in the broadest sense also means a background of thought, a specific situation or a designation of the essence that is common to all people. As a result, the studio relates to the tradition of conceptualism, land art and site-specific art, rather than to classical artistic disciplines. The tutors are aware of the fact that site-specific art is not a dominant theme for the current generation – that is why they try to emphasize that art does not exist in a vacuum but needs a social contact, being influenced by the context for which it is created. This context can be spatial but also a social, political, or cultural one.
In practice, this means that the individual projects that students work on may be based on specific spaces and places, however, this is not a necessary starting point. Much more important is the conceptual orientation of the studio and the approach of its tutors, through which students learn to move freely among different media. The atmosphere in the studio constantly changes with new students, and their inclinations vary, being sometimes more or less ecological, more or less focused on painting, and so on.
The students work on joint and independent projects, go for walks together, attend plein air workshops, travel abroad, and follow the contemporary art and culture in the Czech Republic and other countries. Their studies include reading literature and texts related to the orientation of the studio. If they feel helpless, the tutors try to give them impulses or point them somewhere, paying attention to individual approach, trying to discuss with the students and achieve contextually richer results. The aim of the studio is to form knowledgeable graduates who are capable of producing critical artistic reflections of our society.
Tutors: Barbora Klímová, Matěj Smetana
“The goal of our journey is the philosophy of photography”
In the introduction of the text about the Photography Studio it is impossible to avoid the question “What does photography actually represent today?” This is what educators often think about and discuss with students. In doing so, they are aware that in recent years the medium of photography has blurred its previously clearly demarcated boundaries. For example, what is the difference between someone’s playing with a photography app on their mobile phone and art? Where is the line that determines what is still play and what is already art? Due to this kind of thinking, it does not matter if the students produce a work in which there is no photography at all. But the crucial point is that the result can always be related to photography in some way.
It follows that the focus of the Photography Studio is quite broad. Its tutors encourage experimental approaches. They do not force students to use only digital equipment, those who want to explore analogue photography will find support, too. The only thing they do not really deal with is product photography, although even this statement cannot be taken to the letter. We should rather say that product photography is not understood as a final product, but as a path that can inspire a specific assignment (i.e., food photography). In fact, when choosing topics, the studio tutors try to come up with something new every time so that neither they nor the students get bored. The topics and assignments they choose are often provocative: they consider it important that students get used to moving with the camera even in situations when they do not feel completely at ease. It is clear that if someone wants to pursue documentary photography, they will find themselves in challenging situations, in the midst of specific communities, and they will need to be able to confidently stand behind the camera.
Despite all that has been said, there is one common denominator. In the studio they rely on a conceptual approach and want to play with the medium. The output can then be work with someone else’s images that the students have found on the internet, a performance event, or a theatre play. This is what the studio calls “live photography”: the students, together with their tutors, try to create a situation, to install themselves in it, and to develop it if it is possible. Although no one is formally constrained in the Photography Studio, students end up sticking to the medium of photography, or returning to it as a footing. It helps them not only complete their assignments, but also develop the ability to play with, think of, and interpret the subject matter in their own way. The unorthodox topics are then accompanied by unusual presentation formats, for example through performances at the studio’s adaptation of Pecha Kucha format. In these, however, the tutors return to the basic questions: Should photography be an artistic medium like painting? Should it be used to think of the meaning of art? Or should it be purely accidental, with no intentional artistic intent?
Tutors: Ivars Gravlejs Tomáš Javůrek
Graphic Design Studio 1
“Common discussion and cooperation”
Nowadays, graphic designers often find themselves in situations where they must fight for their jobs in competitions just to be later faced with harsh dead lines to submit their work. This is one of the things that Graphic Design Studio 1 were opposed to, when they decided not to accept commissioned work. Instead of competition, they emphasize long-term collaboration, and instead of speed, they emphasize slowness. They also try to avoid pressure for performance, compulsive selfpresentation, or individualism. On the other hand, the economic sustainability of projects is essential, regardless of whether these projects are carried out at school or elsewhere.
In the Graphic Design Studio 1 they think it is essential to discuss with each other, to develop common tools and practices in their work, and to collaborate in general. The studio functions as a meeting place for people who can enrich and inspire each other. In practice, this means exploring and defining how everyone, regardless of the roles assigned to them by the school, could function as a community in which information and experience are shared. It is therefore not important who officially holds the role of the teacher and who is the student. The tutors in this studio do not function as mentors, trying to pass on their own knowledge and experience to others from their position; the tutors are an equal part of the community. Therefore, there is no head of the studio – the acronym AGDX stands for all those who are part of the community.
Graphic Design Studio 1 differs of course from the traditional concept of studio-based art and design education in other aspects as well. The very nature of the approach to learning in this studio implies that there are no supervisors who assign new tasks to students. Everyone works here on their own projects and at their own discretion, with intrinsic motivation and self-responsibility playing an important role. Everyone evaluates their own work and receives feedback if they ask for it. The design itself is understood by them in its broadest possible sense and the designer is understood as a person who consciously influences the world in which they move with their work.
Graphic Design Studio 2
“We are looking for a different way of seeing”
In Graphic Design Studio 2, they are trying to understand the role of design. To achieve this goal the tutors encourage a lively discussion which they develop with the general idea that there is no single right view. In conversations that follow, the pedagogues are not only the studio heads but also visiting professors from the Czech Republic and abroad, invited by the tutors to provide feedback to the students. This allows more voices and more opinions to be heard in the studio, opening all kind of directions. Among them, students find the one that is closest to them. What conclusions do they come to?
Studying graphic design is not limited to designing layouts for books, posters, logos, websites, or other media, although this work is also part of the professional practice. Rather, for educators and learners, it is a complex way to communicate with the world. Neither the commercial nature of the field nor its purely artistic forms are solely embraced there. There is no mantra of the ideal graphic designer, yet there are some goals to achieve: to understand the possibilities of the profession, to experiment without fear of failure, and to keep on questioning why graphic design exists and what it brings us.
In the studio, both the tutors and students come up with topics for discussion. These topics can later be turned into assignments, yet students are free to choose from a range of options of how to conceptualise them. Educators are aware that some students feel more comfortable working on a specific topic, while others feel more comfortable when they have a set form – and they try to accommodate these individual demands. An important part of the teaching process is also having enough time for consultations, trips, or watching films and other cultural activities, from which discussions towards design or other topics are then developed. As a result, students become aware of the possibilities of graphic design and how they can use them in whatever life or work environment they choose.
Tutors: Denisa Kollarová, Jozef Ondrík
Game Media Studio
“Game media are a great tool for artistic creation”
Digital games are now a widespread, attractive, and popular part of the lives of children and adults alike. Although video games are often the first association that comes to mind when it comes to game media, it would be misleading to narrow the intention of this studio to them. Although the students of the Game Media Studio work with contemporary technologies to learn their craft, the tutors are not only concerned with digital games, but with the subject-matter of games in general, in the broadest possible sense of the word: it can be board games, card games, spatial games, or even the game itself as a principle. Therefore, in this studio, questions like “What information can be conveyed in the form of a game?” are dealt with in the studio.
Asking these questions, they understand game and play as something common, as a means of communication and education. In addition to game culture, this studio is also interested in contemporary culture in general. This is also the reason why they honour the humility of traditional media, work with them and look for methods that allow bridges to be created between seemingly incompatible media – students are not shied away from working with classical painting, photography or illustration. However, unlike studios dealing with other media and approaches, this one is civil, not looking for trending themes or topics related to current politics. This makes the Game Media Studio more resistant to the various, and often volatile, manifestations and attitudes of the art scene.
Classes are taught in semester cycles, during which students work on individual projects. In doing so, the studio tutors try to respect their intentions, understand what and how the students perceive, and allow them to follow their own ideas. The implication is that this is not a plain design studio: the tutors stress to the students that game design is just one component of game development. In fact, unlike the game industry, here they can afford to experiment, to push the boundaries of the medium, to leave out some of the segments that make up a game, to try to play with graphics or game dynamics. In addition to craftsmanship, working with story, drama, or narrative shorthand is also part of the studio’s skill set, so the working methods are thus most similar to a Renaissance workshop. Understanding the intention of the studio today is also helped by the fact that in recent years, game elements and language have been making their way into the minds of everyday people, and as a result, the work of graduates is beginning to be understood outside the geek bubble.
Tutors: Vojtěch Vaněk, Tomáš Hrůza
“We want students to be happy”
As much as such this motto may sound as a hackneyed cliché or a novelist’s statement (after all, the words “Happiness is free for all, and let no one leave empty-handed” end the Strugatsky brothers’ famous science fiction story Stalker), it begins to make sense upon a closer look into the contemporary art world. What has been characteristic of its operation in recent years? The number of art colleges has grown, while the existing ones have seen an increase in studios, students, and alumni. Both the definition and status of the artist is changing as well as the person who determines it. While in the past it was dependent on institutions such as museums, galleries, or auction houses, today it involves everyone who is part of the art world: including the students themselves. These changes are consciously taken into account by the tutors of the Intermedia Studio. This allows them to discuss with the students how to proceed with their studies.
At the same time, they want the students to find their work fulfilling for them and to see as many graduates as possible succeeding in their careers. However, success and employability do not only concern the art market: they cover a wide range of professions that may or may not, on the face of it, be art related. The head of the Intermedia Studio draws on the premise that an artist can be a person who applies the knowledge gained from studying art in a completely different field. Thus, the studio is for those who enjoy thinking about a wide range of topics while moving among different media or using multiple media at the same time. The form of experimentation increases the chances that students will discover what interests and fulfils them, but at the same time, the result is not intended to be, and is not, a superficial alternating of media. In fact, critical thinking is an essential skill for studio graduates that precedes the actual output. This can be a video, a happening, or even a painting: the graduates are aware of the whole range of possibilities and forms, and they choose the one that best suits their intention.
The Intermedia Studio does not refuse to follow the trends and currents that underpin the contemporary art, but this studio is so specific that inspiration from a particular tendency could be rather misleading. Therefore, the tutors work more with the current state of society and are inspired more by the current political, scientific, and cultural events than by the artistic past. They think together with the students about topics related to what we are experiencing now and how we imagine our future.
Tutors: Valentýna Janů, Jonáš Strouhal
Drawing and Graphics Studio
“We aim at drawing to be recognized as a medium“
Both drawing and graphics are among arts that have been with mankind for centuries. Yet, nowadays, drawing is often perceived as an inferior medium that either serves only as a sketch or by its very nature cannot reach the “heights” of other techniques. This bias is also evident in the Czech art market, more so than in some other countries. Drawing and Graphics Studio try to refute such prejudices and its students and graduates prove that drawing is a medium equal to others and allows for the same aspirations as painting, sculpture or any other modern means of expression.
Those long centuries that drawing and graphics have gradually been establishing themselves in art are seen in this studio only as a starting point from which students can take off in their own artistic journey. The tutors are not concerned with perfect realistic drawing, created for the purpose of a stunning effect. Such skill ideally needs to be mastered before entering the studio, where it can only be used as a means, not an end. In the Drawing and Graphics Studio at FFA BUT you will not encounter the teaching of classical book illustration or applied graphics. So, what is the tutors’ main concern? The studio is characterised by a conceptual approach in which form follows content. The tutors discuss with the students their thoughts and ideas, and then look for an appropriate way to express them. The emphasis on the content development then provides an opportunity to develop potential outputs across a variety of media. The diploma projects resulting from this studio show that the degree work does not have to be only a classical drawing or graphic – it can also be an object or a sophisticated installation.
The tutors follow the conceptual tendencies that were particularly evident in the former Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and 1980s, represented by artists such as Július Koller, Dalibor Chatrný, and Olga Karlíková. This is also the basis for efforts to guide students towards a relationship with the landscape. This has become a trendy issue nowadays (which is not meant pejoratively), due to raising concerns about the environmental crisis. Yet, in this studio they work with the relationship to landscape in its natural sense. This corresponds with efforts to spend more time with students outdoors. The result is sophisticated works of art that stand up to competition from other media.
Tutors: Svätopluk Mikyta, Katarína Hládeková
Painting Studio 1
“Not to forget craftsmanship”
Each of the three painting studios of the Faculty of Fine Arts deals with the legacy of the classical medium of painting in its own way. If you are looking for paintings that find themes in everyday life and are thus easily understood by the public, you will probably see them in works of students and graduates from Painting Studio 1. Its tutors are concerned with craftsmanship, and they often discuss the formal aspects of painting with their students. They explain why different painting techniques are important and teach them how to use them. As a result of this approach, graduates are not limited by the lack of skill when it comes to developing their ideas.
To get a better idea of how teaching works in this studio, try to imagine a group of painters, perhaps from the Barbizon School, trying to capture a view of their surroundings together, but each in their own way. This simile, given in a partial exaggeration, can work in more than just a figurative sense. It is not only in the plein air sessions which the tutors undertake with the students that all really work together. In the classes, they discuss contemporary painting rather than 19th century works, but they do not shy away from references to the past, including the Middle Ages. What else is characteristic of both tutors? When they are engaged in their own artistic practice, they do not just work as individuals; both also work in artistic collectives. Collaboration is an important part of the creative process for them, and they try to pass on the experience gained in this area to their students. They do not insist that working in a collective is necessary for artistic practice. However, they encourage students to communicate with each other, and they also consider what students take from their colleagues to be an important part of artistic education. Sometimes they work with short-term assignments where students are asked to work in pairs or trios, other times, instead of a studio meeting, they all work together to paint a model or still life in front of them. For the tutors this is all about exploring and mastering the possibilities of the painting medium; they want to provide their younger colleagues with as complete a set of resources and skills as possible so that they will be able to articulate all they want through painting.
As a result, the treatment of the subject matters that students deal with may not exactly match what we see as reality. The tutors find it beneficial to work with free association, so, in recent years, there has been a noticeable trend in the studio towards fantasy and mysticism. This reflects the attitude of the tutors who try to be open to suggestions coming from the students. They are not averse to different outcomes, but they are convinced that even those who are interested in more abstract experiments can benefit from being able to create a formally convincing portrait in their work.
Tutors: Vasil Artamonov, Marie Štindlová
Painting Studio 2
“We need time for boredom in which creative ideas are born”
“A graduate of an art school should have all the qualifications to become a professional artist.” This idea, which was originally behind the establishing of art schools and their individual studios, is now often criticized, sometimes even refuted, or at least questioned. However, the heads of the Painting Studio 2 believe that despite the changes the world has undergone over the last century, it is still valid and relevant. Therefore, they try to build on this traditional approach and only modify it for the needs of today. Artists who graduate from this studio should not only be great painters. Other, often forgotten but necessary aspects of artistic practice might be as important as creativity itself. Artists should be able to talk about what they do and why they do it, as well as to be able to apply for grants, residencies, or to register for open calls. The curriculum takes these aspects of professional art world into account as well.
But the main idea behind the educational process in this studio is something different. According to the tutors, the pursuit of credits and education for its own sake has its limits. Good ideas often arise when one is a little bored and has the space to think of new things. That is why they try to protect the precious time students can devote to art, i.e., the time they consider essential when thinking about creative education. They then try to combine this approach with individual tuition. As a result, the teaching in the Painting Studio 2 can sometimes take the form of observing and listening, while at other times it seeks to encourage and push the students to do more. The important premise is that every person can be a leader, regardless of the handicaps they might have. Conversely, as an artist one can transform what pesters them into an original artistic work.
When the tutors describe the works that are created in this studio, they prefer to talk about 2D pictures rather than paintings. Although they are not opposed to installations in principle, the studio gathers students who tend to surface and not much to space. However, articulations of the surface can truly expand and take many different forms in this studio.
Tutors: Luděk Rathouský, Ondřej Homola
Painting Studio 3
“We want to think about painting and be open to other media”
The tutors of the Painting Studio 3 see painting as a medium that can enrich itself. They perceive it in the broadest sense, with all the possibilities, overlaps and paths that this technique seeks in the contemporary world and that lead to collaboration with other media. One could say that the Painting Studio 3 is becoming close to the Intermedia Studio in some respects, but unlike it, painting remains the focus of the tutors and students. What does this approach mean in practice?
Among other things, the tutors try to convey a message to the students that they have experienced themselves in their own work: painting can be done in many ways, being naturally linked to conceptual thinking. Yet there remains an emphasis on form, which the tutors consider essential in painting. The result of the work can then be not only a classical painting, but also a book illustration, an animation, a work created in collaboration with a graphic designer, or a range of other outputs that the world of contemporary art offers. Such an approach to teaching requires a very individual approach. This is what the tutors try to achieve by conceiving the studio as a place where every idea or feeling can become a stimulus for deeper exploration and where every difference is welcomed. Openness, sensitivity, patience, and conscious work with the specifics of each student’s perception and thinking are seen as the key to dealing with their potentials. Students are encouraged to make the most of it. At the same time, they have the space to express their opinions and feelings not only about their own work, but also about the presented works of their classmates.
Although it might seem that the horizons of the studio are mainly determined by the current trends, the opposite is true. The tutors try to convey to the students all the paths that painting has ever taken in history and is taking at present. The result is a studio built on the solid foundations of academic teaching of painting which also reflects contemporary thinking.
Tutors: Patricie Fexová, Veronika Vlková
“Performance is an open artistic genre”
Although the internet is already an essential part of our lives, it will probably never become a full replacement for physical presence. Just as the internet has been entering into our lives, modern tools such as video and digital post-production are becoming part of the work of the students in this studio. However, their remain focused on traditional performance, cherished as a method of sharing an emotional experience. There are many approaches to performance, and it has in fact become an open artistic genre that goes across different media. The tutors therefore like to present the studio as a contemporary art studio. This conception gives them the freedom to think about and experiment with new approaches, unlike theatre and film, which also deal with performance, but they are much more closely tied to the entertainment industry.
Students can work with a predetermined script or take an intuitive approach and react according to the situation. They can take on the role of performers themselves, or choose to be initiators and organisers, directing the performance staged by others. The tutors try to adapt the teaching to individual needs, responding to whether there is a group that has already had some artistic experience or whether the majority of students are just beginning to find their own language and specific practices. Accordingly, the tutors decide whether they will work on a common theme in a given semester or whether they will leave this choice to the students.
Continuous transformations of the studio allow the tutors to continuously work on redefining performance and trying out different practices, those central to their teaching remaining. These include providing critical feedback or trying to get students acquainted with practical aspects of art world as much as possible. In the studio, they work together to produce exhibitions and other artistic projects in which students can try out different roles, from curator, to architect, to graphic designer, and mediator who runs the discussion about a given project.
The studio deals with topics such as decolonialism, segregation and racism, feminism or gender issues, discussing contemporary performance and contemporary art in general. They conduct these discussions in a free-associative manner based on the students’ current interests, so that their outcomes are not copies of the existing approaches, but informed works of art. The result is a studio for which dialogue and the desire to stay outside of the box is important.
Tutors: Julie Béna, Jakub Jansa
Product Design Studio
“We try to teach students to think”
According to the tutors of the Product Design Studio, a common misconception about their field still prevails – designers should mainly create beautiful things. But no one can define what a nice thing is anymore, and aesthetics is subject to fast fashion. Therefore, beauty is not the main concern in the Product Design Studio. Instead, they focus on context, understanding the material, thinking about its properties and the functionality of the final product, while not forgetting the social aspect. The tutors try to motivate students to think about situations and problems that arise in life. They are convinced that if a certain thing works well, even a person who does not like it aesthetically will appreciate it. In short, the goal of this studio is to create environment and tools for living.
The Product Design Studio stands between design and architecture, historically intertwined disciplines, as evidenced by many architects-designers. Artists sharing these two fields are still important in the Central European context, including those who were active in the early 1900s in the Wiener Werkstätte workshops or those who later emerged from the Bauhaus circle. Teaching students how to work with different measures results in the ability to create objects for both interior and exterior use. On the one hand, an assignment may be the interior of a small cabin, but also the design of a functional bridge. With this approach, a broader context is brought into the students’ work and the outcome of their work is not just displaying a chair against a white background.
It is important for the tutors to let students know that product design is not just about designing vases. They teach them to be able to cover the widest possible range of assignments, commissions, and ideas. This wide range of possible outcomes also brings with it a wide range of materials that need to be better understood. Visits to different workshops help students to learn and test what fits a given material, to find out what the material can do and how it is used. In addition to the craft way of thinking, the Product Design Studio also teaches conceptual thinking. The tutors encourage students to be critical of the assignments, and at the same time the guide them to use experiment as a working method. They provide examples, present challenges, and encourage students to think of and confront the existing principles through dialogue.
Tutors: Ondřej Tobola, Jan Mikoška
Sculpture Studio 1
“Spatula, clay, scanner and 3D printer”
The Sculpture Studio 1 is known for combining traditional techniques with 3D technology. Those who open its doors will see a series of sculptures depicting figures. These are the result of assignments that students work on during their first four semesters. The studio tutors claim that the point of art school education is not only for the graduates to be able to respond to figural motif assignments. However, the knowledge of the proportions and anatomy of the human body is seen as a foundation that helps to understand deeper relationships and that can be built upon outside the area of realistic sculpture. Students can build on anatomical knowledge in the future, but they can also reject it or define themselves against it.
For this reason, working on the traditional representation of the figure is a central part of the curriculum of the first years: students learn how to model a portrait and correctly capture the human body in anatomical terms; how to stage and sculpt the architecture of a fabric or other soft shapes. Then, the students themselves look for what they will do and which direction they will take. The tutors, however, remain their guides, consulting with the students on their chosen topics, listening, questioning and, if necessary, suggesting alterations so that they can think about the creative tasks together.
The Sculpture Studio 1 also intensively works with digital 3D technologies. The tutors draw on the opinion that being part of contemporary art need not only mean emphasizing political themes. Presence, in their view, can enter the work through 3D technology; and it is technology that can perhaps bring new themes and new forms to the work. Computer programs and 3D printers are then tools in this studio for students to learn to use and get to grips with.
The tutors and students also discuss sculpture through artists whose work interests the students. The ancient Greek sculpture is an essential reference point, but the tutors also deal with the world’s leading contemporary sculptors, such as Ron Mueck whose realistically rendered figures sometimes give someone chills. More than on the process, the emphasis in this studio is put on the result which should always meet the requirements of contemporary sculpture.
Tutors: Michal Gabriel, Tomáš Medek
Sculpture Studio 2
“To be aware of the context that defines a sculpture”
In the 1990s, when the renowned artist Stanislav Kolíbal was the head of the sculpture studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, he called it “Sculpture, Space, Installation”. It was this approach to the classical sculptural medium that the tutors of Sculpture Studio 2 liked, and so they chose it as a starting point for their approach to their own teaching. The work of Stanislav Kolíbal and other artists who dealt with geometric forms is not perceived by them as a dogma, though. It is clear that Kolíbal’s approach is being broadened, and this also applies to the themes and materials that the students of the studio work with. They are the ones who bring new approaches and ways of thinking to the studio, thus gradually transforming it.
Kolíbal’s approach is also being broadened by the possibilities offered by the environment in which the sculptural works are created. An example may be the projects where a social aspect is included. For example, students learn how to work with and within the community of villagers for whom they are creating a sculpture. They must learn how to properly analyse the environment where the work is to be placed, how to negotiate with the landowners, how to get the people who will walk past the work every day to support their idea. They learn that environmental and social aspects of the work are as important as the choice of theme and material. The tutors see the theme as an aid but they also understand that choices of themes should not be limitless, especially for younger students. Therefore, they sometimes try to get their younger colleagues to choose an unusual theme or an unexpected reaction. However, when students have been working on one problem for a long time and it still offers possibilities for taking further, they let the students go through the whole process.
What remains consistent with Kolíbal’s approach, despite the changes described above, is the premise that every sculptural realization occurs in a predetermined context. In this way, the tutors do not understand sculpture as a self-contained object and want the students to be aware of spatial and other contexts. The human figure is one of the crucial elements to take into consideration. This is because it serves to measure things and to perceive the space which, in the end, we always relate to ourselves. Bearing in mind the starting point in Kolíbal’s pedagogical concept, the tutors refer to a broad range of the current realisations by Czech and foreign artists, where students can look for stimuli for their own work.
Tutors: Jan Ambrůz, Pavel Korbička
Body Design Studio
“Living in harmony with one’s own body”
What is typical of the entire Faculty of Fine Arts is respect to students and their activities. However, if it were necessary to name only one studio that fully fits this characteristic, it would be the Body Design Studio. Why? The answer can be found in the focus of the studio, which is not defined by a particular medium – students work with a variety of approaches and with a wide range of materials from concrete to textiles. The prime subject of their interest is the human body, but that does not mean that one might find nude drawing instruction there. The tutors deal with the body on more conceptual levels, for example in performative explorations of anatomy, human senses, and perception.
As a result, themes related to the question of self-identity are often addressed there. The studio attracts not only extrovert students, but also those who perceive their identity as something that is not taken for granted and address personal issues in their work, the processing of which requires a very sensitive pedagogical approach. In addition to the topic of identity, the tutors are also interested in the representation of human sexuality in art in the history, the relationship of human bodies to each other, the relationship of fashion to the body, social issues, art in public space, and issues related to social activism. As a result, the teaching of the studio includes not only collaboration with activist groups, but also with other disciplines that explore the human body through non-artistic methods, such as anthropology. In contrast, the Faculty of Fine Arts gives students more freedom when working with a topic: it sets them free from any potential cumbersomeness and allows them to arrive at a result through visual shortcuts.
The 1970s are then significant for artistic starting points which are dealt with in the studio. At that time various methods and tools for conveying feminist ideas through the visual arts began to emerge in the world. These tendencies got to the Czech environment with a significant delay in the 1990s, when they became the subject of interest for Veronika Bromová and other artists. The Body Design Studio does not insist on openly declaring feminist ideas. These inevitably penetrate the work of the students through the theme of the body, understanding feminism as a caring movement that emphasises harmony with one’s own body.
Tutors: Lenka Klodová, Karolína Kohoutková
“Our most used word is freedom”
The Video Studio is one of those workplaces where it is not quite clearly defined to what extent it falls into the field of fine or applied art. From the range of possible approaches to their medium, the tutors of this studio have chosen the conceptual one. They understand the term “video” in its broadest possible sense – as a socio-cultural space in which the audio-visual technology is applied. Although they offer students courses in animation or video post-production, which they can choose according to their interest, they do not deal with video as a craft in depth.
The Video Studio is characterised by a certain freedom and liberty in the concept of teaching. Its tutors try to avoid pre-conceptions and “readymade” ideas. Having students working on specific assignments is not a priority here. On the contrary, each student is free to do what s/he wants. The tutors are opened to new ideas and try to encourage the students in their work, while not necessarily requiring them to make videos. Instead, they teach them to work with a wide range of media, from curating to video essays. Documentaries and fictional narratives are frequent outputs there, such as a project that explored sustainable fashion and also dealt with aspects of the history of fashion (its author recreated designs that had appeared in a selected historical issue of the Burda magazine), or a project that explored the symbolism of hair and dealt with the overlap of the topic and anthropology. The students themselves come up with suggestions for specific themes; the supervisors tend to follow what their younger colleagues have been dealing with for a long time, advising them to find their way and encouraging them to collaborate with one another.
In discussions, the tutors aim to place the students’ works in the context of contemporary art, music and cinema. They refer to the history of video art, discuss the origins and history of video art in the Czech Republic, play specific videos, talk about aesthetics from the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the first use of 3D effects. The moving image and its application in the context of visual art is always the starting point of the debate which can take different directions. Despite this great freedom, most graduates end up making videos for a living. It surely helps that they have gone through a studio which is opened to discussing the system and that they have discovered how production, distribution and many other positions work in the field of art, and that they have gained the ability to define their themes and present them.
Tutors: Martin Mazanec, Jan Šrámek
Visiting Artist’s Studio
“A chain of temporary collectives with a distinctive personality in their center”
Each semester, the Visiting Artist’s Studio offers students a new opportunity to meet a prominent figure of the art world. The studio is a great opportunity for students to confront their established perceptions through encounters not only with the new studio head, but also with learners from other FFA studios. Curiosity, flexibility, communication, a desire to analyze, and willingness to share are prerequisites for studying in this studio.
The form and content of the classes are different each semester, based on the conception of the current head or studio manager. The tutors are selected from distinguished individuals after a list of potential candidates proposed by the faculty members and PhD students has been complied, based on their professional recommendations. The selected artists often come to us with different approaches. For many of them, running the art school studio temporarily is a welcome opportunity to develop their teaching experience which is based on their own experience of working on the international art scene. During the semester, students are often given the opportunity to observe the current work of their tutors, visit their current exhibitions abroad or their studios, and get a glimpse into the workings of the art world in a non-Czech environment.
The form of study in VAS is also a change for our students. The study can take place in a different rhythm than the regular weekly consultations. The program may include intensive periods of several days of joint work and consultations or periods of more individual distance communication. A relatively high level of English is required for participation. For our students, the studio is beneficial not only in terms of the change in demands, in terms of language, time, and career, but also in terms of the opportunity to be part of a unique, temporarily established collective.
Students from any of FFA studios, including PhD students, are eligible to apply to study at VAS. We also offer participation to our graduates if there is sufficient capacity. Studying at VAS thus becomes an opportunity to meet colleagues with similar interests from various studios and to confront one’s own way of making and thinking with their approaches. The Visiting Artist’s Studio is a chain of temporary collectives made up of people with keen interests, always centered around distinctive personalities with highly original approaches and work.
Tutors of the studio since 2019: Przemyslaw Kwiek, Karol Radziszewski, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Antye Greie-Ripatti, Zuzanna Czebatul, Zeyno Pekünlü
Responsibility: doc. MgA. Filip Cenek