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Bricolage instead of perfection

  • 20 August 2020

2020 Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts

10 – 22 August 2020

(Quarry 26 July – 22 August 2020)

Open Day: Friday 21 August 2020 2 – 7 pm

Fürstenbrunn quarry and Hohensalzburg Fortress, by previous registration only

Press release

Bricolage instead of perfection

20 August 2020

2020 International Summer Academy, an evaluation of the hybrid Academy.

The motto of the shortened, hybrid 2020 Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts is Bricolage instead of perfection. If the team was determined at the outbreak of the pandemic that the Summer Academy should still take place this year, the sheer complexity of the management task emerged only after the start of the courses. Much was happening for the first time (hybrid and online courses and events), so measures were devised during preparation. Our aspiration to have everything perfect had to be abandoned because many things were necessarily only “makeshift” – but this position was met with great understanding by all concerned, since they were so happy that the Academy could be held at all. It was only thanks to a fantastic team including all colleagues and teachers, that the complex challenges presented by the hybrid Academy could be met, particularly with the entire plan under the constant threat of Covid-19. To shield against this, we evolved our own hygiene concept, demanding strict discipline and responsibility from everyone, including the students.

In the end, eleven courses (of the 19 originally planned) and 18 different events were organised – some on site only, some online only, and some a combination of the two. As regards attendance, the 2020 Academy has been extremely successful, with a total of 171 students (76 on site, 95 online) from 42 nations. 85 students received a grant (32 on site, 53 online). Thus on average, each course had 15,5 participants (15,1 in 2019). The events were attended by more than 500 people, 180 of them online. Thus the result of the 2020 evaluation is extremely positive. There were considerably more participants in the courses and events than expected: many courses – especially those on site, were soon fully booked. Both online and hybrid courses worked extremely well, as the teachers report (also some students – a detailed evaluation will follow in the autumn), although these courses were considerably more labour-intensive than courses on site. We are especially grateful that Randa Mirza and Lara Tabet, the two teachers in Beirut/Lebanon, held their course although their apartment had been destroyed by the explosion on 4 August. Not only that, but in an Artist Talk they told of their participation in the Lebanese revolution that began last autumn, of the economic crisis in Lebanon – and not least, of the explosion and its consequences. (

Despite the pandemic, the Summer Academy has given a clear signal that it is alive and well even in times like these, and it will continue to explore New Horizons, as promised by the 2020 motto.

Hildegund Amanshauser is available for interviews and guided tours through the classes (until 21 August).

Facts and figures

10 – 22 August 2020
Quarry 26 July – 22 August 2020
Details of courses

In Hohensalzburg Fortress, analogue only: Noële Ody/Toni Schmale, Tobias Pils
In the Fortress and online, hybrid: Nadira Husain, Nicolaus Schafhausen, Louisa Elderton/Klaus Speidel
Online only: Bani Abidi/Priya Sen, Eli Cortiñas, Marina Fokidis, Randa Mirza/Lara Tabet, Ahmet Ögüt
Quarry: Cäcilia Brown/Anna Hofbauer/Mikkel Holm Torp

Regrettably, the following courses could not be held: Caroline Achaintre, Sammy Baloji/Lotte Arndt, Brenda Draney, Per Dybvig, Thea Gvetadze, Cameron Jamie, Vaclav Pozarek, Massinissa Selmani

Hildegund Amanshauser, director since 2009, looks back.

Professionalisation, concentration and globalisation

The International Summer Academy is part of the education industry sector, which has undergone radical change over the past eleven years. The field is increasingly marked by economisation, globalisation and enormous competition. The worldwide market of summer schools exploded, almost every academy of art on the planet now being involved. So the great challenge, in this highly competitive field, was to demonstrate the unique features of the Salzburg International Academy of Fine Arts, and to market it worldwide. Hildegund Amanshauser carried on the basic concept of founder Oskar Kokoschka: to provide a place for professional artists, art students and experienced amateur artists to come together to study – and to appeal to people from all over the world, irrespective of age or educational background. She met these challenges by means of professionalisation, concentration and globalisation.


Hildegund Amanshauser relied on permanent change, evaluation and networks. Part of her concept was to invite a teacher for only two (usually consecutive) years, and only teachers who held no professorship in Europe. The selection of teachers was made after comprehensive global research and followed the principles of highest quality, diversity, internationality and enthusiasm for teaching. Not infrequently, the Summer Academy offered younger artists the opportunity of teaching for the first time. From 2010 until 2020, a total of 212 courses was held, directed by 155 different teachers.

From 2010, Hildegund Amanshauser introduced professional evaluation, which provided accurate data giving feedback to the team and the teachers. Many of the suggestions for improvement from teachers and students were subsequently adopted into the concept of the Summer Academy. The evaluation of the entire programme became a tool for the permanent change of the institution. 

The basis of the research and the programming was a constantly growing network which included all (also former) teachers, lecturers, etc. One significant success factor was the acquisition of new grant donors (since 2010: ERSTE Foundation and co-operations with the Academies of Art in Münster, Leipzig and the Kingston School of Art in London. For 2020, a co-operation with SAHA, Istanbul had been agreed, but was postponed until 2021 due to the Covid pandemic). In recent years, it has been possible to award an average of almost 100 grants, managed substantially by the Society of Friends of the Summer Academy under their chairperson Gunda Cancola. Last year, the Society set up the special Bisi Silva grant for artists from Africa – an extremely important initiative.


Over the years, following demand from students and teachers, the courses were gradually shortened, making the current average duration a little more than two weeks. Consequently, the Hallein course location had to be closed, and Hohensalzburg Fortress once again became the main centre of operations. Due to lack of demand, courses in Architecture, Jewellery design and Design were no longer offered, since these were not relevant to the core business and the central expertise of the Summer Academy. Instead, courses in Curatorial Theory and Practice and Writing about Art were initiated, with great success. This change was part of a strategy to base the whole programme increasingly on discourse.

From 2010, a limit on the number of participants in each course was introduced, to guarantee the high quality of teaching (usually between 12 (quarry) and 20). The aim was an average of about 15 students per course – which has been achieved in recent years.


Global/Planetary Academy was the central project during Hildegund Amanshauser’s time as director. The inspiration for this came from the 2011 Global Art conference, suggested by Sabine B. Vogel, who curated it together with Hildegund Amanshauser, focusing on the history and  definition of global art and global art history. Subsequently, many of the lecturers were invited as teachers, and the foundation was laid for a worldwide summer academy network. In 2016, the Global Academy? conference was devoted to alternative academies, particularly in the global south. Then in 2018, Global Academy II, examples of transcultural exchange, curated by Hildegund Amanshauser and Kimberly Bradley, presented diverse models of cultural exchange. In addition, new concepts and ways of thinking beyond the colonial/post-colonial, north/south, etc. were discussed, with a view to new art histories.

The book Navigating the Planetary (2020), edited by Hildegund Amanshauser and Kimberly Bradley and published by Verlag für moderne Kunst, Vienna, continued the 2018 conference and concludes Hildegund Amanshauser’s Planetary Academy project. Navigating the Planetary is a guide-book to the past, present and potentials of the global art world.


The Planetary/Global Academy project has been in evidence during the intervening years, not only through the two/third conferences, the book and many lectures, but also throughout the entire more recent Summer Academy programming. It was also reflected in the policy of invitations to teachers and increased attention to new forms of grants (a first step being the Bisi Silva grant mentioned above). One of the logical consequences was a higher percentage of non-European students.

The aim of the project was to make the International Summer Academy a planetary (global) academy, or at least to try out approaches – following up discourses, creating spaces for encounters, to promote negotiations, exchanges, debates on art and relevant discourse, making it possible to leave Eurocentric perspectives far behind and allow new worldwide communication, encounters and collaborations on equal terms. The project will reach far beyond the boundaries of Salzburg through the formation of new networks, friendships and working groups which take effect in other places worldwide. 

Following the programme New Horizons by Hildegund Amanshauser, the programme of 2021 will be developed by the new Director, Sophie Goltz, along with the following questions:

How to practise togetherness?

How to practise non-cooperation? 

How to practise anti-coloniality?

In focus will be artistic practises devoted to experimental pedagogies, using digital technologies or synthetically generated, novel materials. In parallel, changing genres in fine and performative arts demand different educational formats. Accordingly, multi-disciplinary and hybrid (analogue/digital) classes and their exchange shall be extended. Classic curatorial courses will be expanded in favour of collaborative practices of different actors, especially between art and civil society.

Together with students and teachers, as well as local colleagues and civil activists, the Academy will become public as part of a larger entanglement with the city society. The pandemic has unveiled an urban life along the lines of promise or survival which cannot be ignored. How do we build our urban identities from this conjuncture? How do we think the future of cityscapes hereafter as places of psycho-geographies set against political agendas? As part of the summer programme, we will explore cultural possibilities and socio-political responsibilities of this momentum.