Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA) is a joint programme with 3 universities: Aalto University in Helsinki, Aalborg University in Copenhagen and Konstfack University in Stockholm. Each semester, all NoVA students from the 3 universities attend a symposium that lasts for a week in one partner university. We attended the symposium between 23/9/2019 and 27/9/2019 in Konstfack University in Stockholm.
I was very excited to see all my colleagues and professors from different universities. It was a great opportunity to exchange ideas with everyone. During the symposium, we visited Fotografiska(Museum of Photography) and Snösätra Wall of Fame (a famous graffiti area outside the suburb Rågsved), discussed our thesis plans and learnt about research methodologies.
As a student, I always love to walk out of the lecture room from time to time to breathe some fresh air and do something practical. During our visit in Fotografiska, we were immersed in Jimmy Nelson’s Homage to Humanity exhibition, fascinated by the colours and patterns of textiles from indigenous people around the world. At the same time, we reflected on humanity and ethics in exploring the world and doing research with others. These can all be linked to our studies and research projects. What is our position in perceiving things? What is subjectivity? What ethics should we consider?
When we visited Snösätra Wall of Fame, we discussed the differences between graffiti and street art. Are graffiti and street art “crime” or “art”? Is there always a political connotation in graffiti? Is there “masculine” and “feminine” art? Can you tell the artists’ genders by looking at their works? If artists must do graffiti in an assigned area, is this still “graffiti”? We couldn’t draw any concrete conclusion, and nobody can. The meaning of art changes over time and space. We learn more and more by constant discussion and self-reflection.
Back to the lecture room, it was wonderful to learn everyone’s thesis plans. NoVA is a very international and multidisciplinary programme. We’re attending the same lectures, yet we have the great freedom and flexibility in doing very different research projects. The same reading materials have led us to different “inter-standing” (interpretation and understanding) combining with our previous knowledge, experiences and personal interests, thus creating very unique research plans that let us investigate into what we concern most. It was mind-blowing to look into everyone’s projects and it was a great opportunity to raise our concerns, as well as to give and receive comments from and to each other.
We also explored how to present our ideas in an effective and efficient way. We could see everyone’s unique way of presentation. Not only the content, but also the way of expression and presentation mattered.
Last but not least, in the lecture Research Methodologies II, we learnt about perspectives. What is a perspective?
- What are the interests
- Accumulation of experience
- Ways of seeing things
- Meaning making
- How it organizes the world
By understanding our position, subjectivity and bias, we address the limitations of our research and let readers make their own judgement at the same time.
To conclude, it was a fruitful symposium to me. It was a good summary of what we have been learning in NoVA, as well as a good starting point to embark on our thesis research journey.