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New curriculum for LAPS MA programme, but why now?

Group of student and teachers
Reza Afisina from Ruangrupa speaking to students and professors from LAPS, Universität Kassel and Szczecin Art Academy at the documenta fifteen, Kassel in August 2022

The LAPS MA programme has invited a great variety of teachers and researchers from the fields of performance art, media art, theatre, dance and artistic research, but also from the fields of economics, anthropology, literature studies and social sciences. This has provided a very rich environment to explore practice and theory. However, in regards of the feedback from the MA students and external advisors it seems that the LAPS MA curriculum has been overtly packed and leaving not enough time for student reflection, withdraw and exploration – or how MA student Tina Jeranko neatly defined programme lacking a dialectical ‘negative space’.

All programmes in the Uniarts Helsinki are now in process of making new curriculum, which should allow more space to students mobility and clearer definition of core areas of each programme. These curriculums will begin in 2024. LAPS MA programme has already created a pilot version, where these questions are already taken into consideration. It was done for the above-mentioned reasons of more clarity and allowing more time for students to their own practice.

Another aim has been to make descriptions of the units and course more succinct and accessible, which means that we have tried as much as possible to withdraw using overt terminology. From the beginning of the Autumn semester in 2023 the mode of studying will consist of three main study modules, the MA thesis project and at least 10 credits of optional studies:

  • Contemporary performance practice
  • Research Practice
  • Intersectional fields and strategies
  • Master’s thesis project

The modules should equally focus on practice and research, individual practice and collaboration. In this curriculum for LAPS MA programme the concept of contemporary performance rests on four pillars: singular artistic practice, theoretical rigor, collaborative ethos, and art’s decisive role in the society. The context of LAPS programme is physically located in the Uniarts Helsinki but does not have a fixed studio place to work at the moment. This means that courses and projects are done in specific studios in Theatre Academy or Academy of Fine Art building contextualizing each course.

The module of Contemporary Performance Practices focus in performance art and live art practices. The module enables students to develop their practice both in individual and collaborative practices. The focus is on processes and different working methods that enable exploratory ethos of work and for developing critical performance practice. The module provides space for studio practice, contextualization of practice, and defining artistic practice, their conditions and intersections with the society. The module enables students to explore collaboration with other MA students from different study programmes.

The module of Research Practice consists of theoretical studies where the main focus is on Performance Studies and Artistic Research, but not excluding different theoretical or analytic approaches to arts and research. The components of this module provide historical, ecological, social, political and technological points of view to contemporary art, performance and live art as research. The module has a function of theoretical focus area of the LAPS programme. The module includes courses on research tools and a unit in Thematic focus on specific area that reflects emergent discussions in art or research, which provides an exploratory platform to focus on emerging modes of thought and how they influence performance and contemporary art.

The module of Intersectional fields and strategies provides a practice-led research lens to explore and analyse power structures and their performance. This module focuses on methodologies and practices to research and explore relationships of different modalities in social and subjective formations. The module includes units that focus on engaged practices for better comprehension of the effect of artistic practice in the society. The units provides both practical skills and a theoretical understanding of the collaborative and institutional knowledge that informs artistic work.

Elective studies are regarded important in their feedback loop to other modules in the LAPS MA programme, and they should enforce individual practice and research. Students can select courses in related fields from the studies in the Theatre Academy, other units of the Uniarts Helsinki, or acquire study credits from artistic projects in the professional fields.

The final part of the MA programme, that takes place in the second semester of the second year of the studies is the Master’s Thesis Project. In concluding their MA thesis projects artistic and written parts, the students have the capacity to produce a properly articulated artistic work using their chosen means and working methods. In 2023 LAPS MA programme will pilot a collaboration with several art organizations, festivals and venues as optional space for the MA student to present their Thesis Project. In the Masters’ thesis project, students present their position in the field through a unique artistic work and a written thesis. Through these forms, they will create well-rehearsed arguments of their artistic ideas. The  thesis project includes supervision by two artists or scholars and two examiners of the work. The resources provided from the programme and the support services define the framework and size of the project. LAPS programme encourages students to create well contextualized work and provide wide network to present work in the best possible context.

Through these changes our aim is to make LAPS MA programme even more vigorous environment for developing practice and explore theoretical interests of the artists in the programme and focus on the various roles of an artist in the contemporary society.

When performance

The master’s programme in Live Art and Performance Studies (LAPS) was launched in 2001 as a Finnish-language degree programme, Esitystaiteen ja -teorian koulutusohjelma. Since 2013, LAPS has been an English-language, international and residential MA programme based in Helsinki. The objective of the programme is to enable artists coming from different environments, classes, cultures and upbringings to focus on their work, develop their research and map out the future of their artistic practice. This blog discloses the various aspects of the LAPS programme, from individual notions and statements by students to providing background for LAPS MA thematic interests.

Learn more about the LAPS programme

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