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Zurich University of the Arts, Department Fine Arts

Call for applications: Pre/Doc Program Transforming Environments

After a successful first edition, the Department of Fine Arts (DFA) continues its predoctoral program Transforming Environments. The one-year program enables emerging artists, curators, artistic researchers to conceive and engage in a practice-based PhD project. The aim of the program is for participants to gain a deeper understanding of the requirements in the academic field, to conceptualize their own approach to artistic research and to elaborate a solid research plan. Within the framework of monthly group meetings, the members actively participate in a culture of peer-exchange. They have access to the University’s infrastructure and research environment, as well as to financial support for project-related travel and production. With the support of individual mentoring, the participants are expected to develop their projects and to hand in a full PhD proposal (exposé) by the end of the program. Participants who successfully complete this program will qualify to pursue their PhD at the DFA.

Transforming Environments situates artistic research in the context of urgent matters and open questions that emerge from current living conditions. We invite the participants to focus on social, political, or cultural situations which call for rethinking and action. How can such situations be made tangible? How can art negotiate transformation? Which approaches seem suitable to address urgencies, to intervene and have an effect? 

We welcome applications from artists, curators, artistic researchers (MFA degree) with consistent practice and a convincing interest to work on/towards processes of social, political, or cultural transformation. Please note that admission to the program does not imply stipends nor paid positions. 

Program modules

-       Kick-off: The program starts with an intensive workshop exclusively for the group’s members in the city of Prague (CZ), Sept.27-Oct.1, 2023 (all travel expenses are covered through the program, except those from overseas)

-       Group meetings: From October 2023 to June 2024, the group will meet monthly at ZHdK to discuss specific issues and participate in peer-exchange 

-       Individual mentoring: All participants will develop their PhD proposal individually, supported by regular mentoring from the head of the program and other members of the DFA faculty

To apply, please submit

-       Personal video statement (3-5min), including your artistic interests and motivation for doing an artistic PhD. The video can consist of a simple recording of you talking to the camera, or it can include footage that helps you communicate your position. Please upload your statement to vimeo and include the link in your project proposal. 

-       Written project proposal (2 pages) that gives insight into the environments you are interested in and the process of involvement/ research/ production you intend to start. 

-       Portfolio, including a CV and documentation of your most important work/projects from the last 5 years (max. 12 A4 pages)

-       Copy of your MFA-degree diploma


Please submit your application in English and as a single PDF file to: 

Application deadline: April 2, 2023. Zoom-interviews with the shortlisted applicants will take place on April 25 (afternoon) and April 26 (morning). 

Zoom Q&A: On March 7, 2023 at 6 p.m., you can join an information event about the program on Zoom. For the link to the event, please contact:

Further information about the program:

Head of the PhD-Program Fine Arts: Dr. Marcel Bleuler, 
Head of the Department of Fine Arts: Prof. Swetlana Heger


image captions: Left: Contribution by Julie Born Schwartz, Greeting Cards (ongoing project), Klima, Issue 05, June 2022. Middle: Toni Campus, Zurich © ZHdK. Right: Ambra Viviani, Silver and Forked (series of four), 2022, tin, 30x21cm.




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