Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, Sweden

Modernist Legacies
and Constructions
of Whiteness

( 15 ECTS Credits )

Donatella Bernardi, Fabrics, Åhlens store, Kungsholmen, Stockholm, 26 May 2013

Donatella Bernardi, fabrics at Åhléns department store, Kungsholmen, Stockholm, 26 May 2013


Art and curatorial practices, human sciences, theory and activism, are brought into a single pedagogical structure to engage critically with modernism and whiteness. Segregation, race, capital, eating disorders, nervousness, experience of migration and adoption… What do these issues have to do with the symbolic, and yet highly powerful, sphere of representation we call art?


Level: Postgraduate
Requirements: BA in art or architecture, a BA in another relevant field or the equivalent knowledge
Application Deadline: Application deadline for 2016 has expired
ECTS Credits: 15
Programme Length: 1 semester, part-time, structured as periodic intensive lectures and seminars plus individual project supervision
Teaching Language: English

This interdisciplinary course is designed for practitioners within the fields of fine art, design, curatorship, architecture, journalism, cultural studies, humanities, social and political sciences who are interested in global and peripheral modernism, race, whiteness, social engineering, adoption, migration, orientalism, activism, parade, masquerade and institutional critique.

‘Modernist Legacies and Constructions of Whiteness’ will be jointly taught by Samira Ariadad, writer and communicator, Donatella Bernardi, artist and professor at RIA, Tobias Hübinette, lecturer in intercultural studies at Karlstad University and researcher in critical race and whiteness studies at Uppsala University, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, artist and associate professor at Funen Art Academy and Axel Wieder, art historian, curator and director of Index, The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation.

Sidsel Meineche Hansen, New Noveta: NO NAHADOU. No right way 2 cum, Transmission Gallery, 2016.

Sidsel Meineche Hansen, New Noveta: NO NAHADOU. ‘No right way 2 cum’, Transmission Gallery, 2016


We will study the friction between an outward-looking, open self-imagination (both on a societal and individual scale) and tendencies of segregation and inequality. Historically, a modernist tradition is rooted in the social struggle for better living conditions and an egalitarian society. While deeply embedded to the social agenda of modernism (particularly in architecture and urban planning, but also in racial terms), this tradition–a founding myth of contemporary Swedish society–also creates blind spots that are becoming more urgent to scrutinise in the contemporary situation. One of these blind spots is an idea of normalcy that paradoxically does not correspond to any actual contemporary average (migration, ethnicity background, social class or basic demographic data). Nevertheless, these persisting and hegemonic forms of the ‘normal’, assuming for example minimum bio-political requirements from every citizen–whiteness and heterosexuality being two of them, constitute the Nation-State’s egalitarianism.

Marketing material for the Swedish Tourist Association

Marketing material for the Swedish Tourist Association


The structure of the course aims at developing strategies to combine research, reflection and artistic intervention in order to test capacities of cultural production to negotiate socio-political issues. Each session will be the occasion to present a new aspect or chapter of the course. Course participants will prepare readings and visits under the form of self-organised inter-sessions. What is the purpose of the art academy? Who does it belong to? How is it to be organised? Open critique sessions of individual and collective works/projects/pieces/initiatives will be integrated into the course, in order to promote different kinds of authorship.

The course will result in the production of artistic contributions for the exhibition ‘The Promise’ (2 June–28 August 2017) at Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation in Stockholm.

El Hank, Casablanca, 2008. Photo: Marion von Osten

El Hank, Casablanca, 2008. Photo: Marion von Osten


Admission and tuition fees

Admission and tuition fees apply for students from countries outside the EU/EEA. The tuition fee for this 15 credits course is 75 000 SEK and the admission fee is 900 SEK. International students who have been accepted to a study programme in Sweden must show financial means of support during study time to the immigration authorities in order to obtain a study visa. Read more about fees