Fine Arts creates its new part-time programme Amalgam: “The possibilities are endless”

8 January 2024

The KABK starts a new part-time programme: Amalgam, a four-year study programme with participants being awarded a BA Fine Arts diploma. This trajectory is aimed at people who want to merge their professional and life experience with an artistic practice.

In this interview, Antoinette Vonder Mühll, co-head of the Fine Arts department and Onno Schilstra, teacher at the Fine Arts department, explain why and for whom Amalgam has been developed.

Why a part-time programme?

Onno: I have been a part-time student myself and I have been teaching at the section since 2000. Until ten years ago, about thirty part-time students graduated yearly. Recently, we have been working to revive it. Amalgam is the result of this. Amalgam is a contemporary, relevant and feasible programme, highlighting the importance of art within our society.

Antoinette: Part-timers are important within our department and, especially in their contacts with full-time students. They bring in a lot of experience and knowledge. We change the design of the programme in such a way that these qualities are given full space. With their life baggage and previous training, they are able to go beyond the more stereotypical interpretations of being an artist. They come to the KABK to fulfil a long-cherished wish to make art. This often takes flight when they start using expertise that at first glance has nothing to do with art in their artistic work. Amalgam focuses on this type of artistry.

Why the name Amalgam?

Antoinette: In chemistry, an amalgam is a combination of two elements that together form a strong whole. For us it is about merging different backgrounds. In that sense, we hope that Amalgam will become a testing ground for innovative artistic practices.

What does the curriculum look like?

Onno: Participants are two full days at the academy each week. This allows them to keep a job or have demanding activities on the other weekdays. The education is aimed at integrating their extra-academic life into their art and vice versa. Instead of being in each other's way, they should reinforce each other. Therefore, the curriculum is different from that of the full-time course. Amalgam participants and teachers exchange knowledge and work together. The task of the teachers is to facilitate a synergy that allows participants to create meaningful projects.

Antoinette: It is very much about sharing and peer learning. Amalgam has a team of teachers, but participants can also collaborate with other tutors in Fine Arts team. In the first year, they get most of their teaching in the KABK workshops. While working with their hands, they are trained to reflect and develop their own attitude. Next to that, they are introduced in art theory through a lecture programme, guest teachers and excursions.

For whom has the study programme been developed?

Onno: For everyone with some life experience. Whether you are a PhD engineer or a refugee, a musician or a sports teacher, or a combination of this: when that experience or knowledge is accompanied by a deep sense of the value of art then this course is the place for you.

What makes this course special?

Onno: It is a bachelor's degree in which participants investigate with each other and with teachers how their non-artistic job, education or background can be connected to their sense of art and how both can feed each other. Participants will be part of the larger KABK community. They work alongside students from other courses in the workshops and studios in the middle of the creative community.

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Work by part-time alum Roos Hoffmann, “Storm”, still from performance/video. Photo credit: Arend Jan van der Scheer
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Work by part-time alum Roos Hoffmann, “LHV”, performance. Photo credit: Roos Hoffmann.
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Work by part-time alum Roos Hoffmann, „Project F” performance. Photo credit: Ilka Theurich.

What type of work do you expect from the people who will do this programme or what type of work can these people make?

Antoinette: The outcome will of course remain a question mark until we celebrate a first diploma ceremony! We expect our participants to find their own forms of expression. The possibilities are endless: A sculpture that initiates a daily ritual, or a performance that coincides with a political action, a zine for hospital workers, a documentary in which people who are not visible in the workplace are given a voice or a light installation that connects people at work. For example, the pictures in this interview are from interactive performance projects by part-time alumna Roos Hoffmann. Participants take the artistic strategies into their daily lives. To challenge, to make a difference and to open new perspectives and attitudes.

From which academic year can people register?

Antoinette: Registration has been open since October 2023 for the academic year starting in September (2024/2025). As an Amalgam candidate, we ask you to upload documentation of projects: works that you have created yourself or an explanation of examples that inspire you, together with a detailed motivation letter. From December onwards, we will organise three information meetings for interested applicants. We try to answer as many questions as possible and hope to see you there!