Art, Education and Politics in the Post-Welfare State

April 14-17 2016
Helsinki & Stockholm



The task of this conference is to map, investigate and contest art and its education as sociopolitical practices in the contemporary Nordic societies. Although the Nordic countries are still, at least partially, drawing from the ideals of the welfare state in their cultural and educational politics, the pressures to reform and rethink the Nordic social democracy are constantly growing. These pressures derive from the different sides of the political and economical spectrum: neoliberal capitalism, neo-nationalism, and social movements that challenge more traditional sociopolitical organizations. In this respect, the lateness of the current welfare societies denotes a perplexing feeling of being in-between the structures of the past and the demands of the future.

In their varied contexts, art and its education have served as realms where alternative social and political projects can be imagined and practiced. Their histories as sociopolitical activities are deeply entwined: in education, the integration of art in schools has a historical status as an essential component of a comprehensive education and, more recently, the art world and its institutions have turned to education as a strategy of rethinking their role in the society. However, the blurring boundaries of life, work, and education that characterizes the so-called post-Fordist labor of contemporary capitalism has meant that the alternative worlds that art and its education open remain merely as subtle variations of the existing societal imperatives for an active, entrepreneurial life.


The main question that the conference aims to tackle is:

What does it mean to politicize art and its education in a post-welfare state and what does the Nordic context bring in to this discussion?


This question is approached through three, interconnected themes:

1) Art & Its Education: What kind of art education theories and practices can help us to approach the lateness of the current welfare state critically? How to understand the sociopolitical promise and function of art education in such context?

2) Art & Its Institutions: What are the challenges that a socially engaged and political art encounters in the late welfare state? What kind of alternatives imaginaries, if any, could art engender?

3) Art & Its Society: How can we frame political theorization of art and its education in the contemporary social and political landscape? How to understand political action in such context?


We invite academics, artists, teachers, and activists from various backgrounds to attend this international and multidisciplinary conference.


The conference takes place over four days and in two locations: 1.5 days in Helsinki, Finland and 1.5 days in Stockholm, Sweden (+1 day for travels). The program consists of invited keynote speakers, panels, workshops, and artistic activities curated by Checkpoint Helsinki and Tensta Konsthall.

For more information, please contact postdoctoral researcher and project coordinator Juuso Tervo at Aalto University  (

In-Between is organized by Aalto University, Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design and Iceland Academy of the Arts together with Checkpoint Helsinki and Tensta Konsthall. The project is supported by Nordplus Horizontal Program on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers