This MFA is new – why does Iceland need this MFA programme?
The MFA is something we are really proud of. It has an amazing diversity of studying artists. They come from dance, theatre, visual arts – and we feel very strongly that we have found a way of tuning into that diversity of needs so that each studying artist can really develop in the ways that they feel most important to them.
In that sense this MFA is post-disciplinary, and we take hybridity very seriously. The performing arts acts as an intersection for an expanded field of practices and contexts and we really put an emphasis on that. You can see that very clearly in those teaching on the programme – leading figures from across the arts and beyond. I amazed everyday at the people we are getting to work with. And it is this combination of powerhouse students and powerhouse artists that makes this programme so special to work on.
Iceland will benefit from having this gathering of people – and we put a big focus on how the work of the MFA leaks out into the city and the country at large. We open up our workshops for other participants (as such we let the nation in), our artists are in conversation with the city and the nation through their work – and the artist we graduate will be the ones forming the art scene of today and tomorrow in Iceland. That’s the plan at least.
What can this MFA do for the studying artists on the programme?
This MFA will do different things for different artists, but primarily it aims at taking artists seriously as artists and empowering them to make choices that bring them ever closer to what feels urgent and necessary to them. And we do that through bringing them into contact with amazing artists and thinkers, by pairing them with mentors that can really aid their individual practices, by supporting these artists to take time to really listen to what is important to them.
How do you choose those that teach on the programme?
Mm… We are looking for a need on the one hand and means on the other. Those teaching and those studying on the programme are very diverse in terms of the practices and questions they are busy with – but somehow they all bring a certain focus, intensity and urgency. And this is what we want on the programme. We want people that need to be there – whether they are there to teach or learn – combined with a certain capacity to act. With the combination of questions and tools that are pooled across all the teaching artists and studying artists we seek to make a hotbed for collective doing, making and thinking – as well as individual sharpening and strengthening of one’s own needs and means.
What do you think makes this MFA special?
I don’t know exactly. Perhaps our belief in the power artists? We really want to make a programme that listens and responds to the needs of the artists we bring into the programme – and finds ways of strengthening their capacities to think and act in the world. This means we don’t fill the MFA with assignments for assignment’s sake – rather we organise the whole programme around activities and encounters of significance. We are not rehearsing being artists, we are building an active community here that are out there doing it for real from the beginning.
We take in very few each year – and this means each one gets very specific focus and attention. And we take postgraduate life very seriously too – we support students to get up to 12 months of professional experience post-graduation and we also have an alumni return policy, which allows graduated studying artists to return for free to participate in workshops on the MFA.