Transdisciplinary tinkering in socially engaged and public art

Date: February – October 2022

Location: Online across six universities in Barcelona, Belfast, Cork, Montreal, Rennes, Weimar

Role: Concept, Coordination, Co-Teaching, Design of print and online media

Project Team: Alexandra Toland (Principle Investigator), Susanne Wille (Facillitation)

Collaborators: Marion Hohlfeldt, Anne Goarzin, Taylor Still, (Rennes2 University), Jools Gilson, Yvon Bonefant (University College Cork). Patrick Leroux, Silvy Panet-Raymond, Keely Whitelaw (Concordia University Montréal). Eloi Puig, Jo Milne, Ramón Parramón, Maria Eugenia Agusti Cami (University of Barcelona)

Students: Ph.D. and MA students of all partnering Universities

Supporters: DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) in the program IVAC – International Virtual Academic Collaboration, Bauhaus-University Weimar in the frame of the program Bauhaus Module. Pilot project in the Graduate School Greative Approaches to Public Space (GS-CAPS).


The “Public Arts Garage” was a joint international virtual seminar across six international partner universities. All partners contributed to the course design and were engaged in teaching. We used the “Garage” Metaphor to convey the spirit of experimentation and the joy of tinkering. Embracing this “Garage” spirit, the project connected students from MA and Ph.D. level, from different backgrounds, countries and academic cultures. In small teams, they created collaborative artistic projects through virtual exchange, that took place in public spaces in the respective locations.

Collaborative work in public spaces through virtual exchange

Between multiple crises, public space has remained a contested terrain of negotiation and political attention. Through interdisciplinary collaboration, the students were encouraged to find new methods to approach critical issues in public spaces in different local contexts and to develop projects that operate at the boundaries of artistic practice.

Testing new methodologies

Public presentations

The project was presented at the international conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) in Belfast in July 2022. We presented the didactic concept and the students’ works through a poster exhibition and a talk. Additionally, we held a transdisciplinary lab to test methods developed in the seminar in collaboration with a group of social anthropologists and with participation of the conference audience.

Moreover, the Public Arts Garage was selected for a presentation at the 70th anniversary meeting of the DAAD in London in September 2022, as one of seven best practice examples of student mobility projects and joint-degree programs.

The “Public Arts Garage” created lasting bonds among some students that lead to follow-up projects. The partner universities were part of the recently founded network Creative approaches to public space (CAPS). The project served as a pilot in this network and will be continued in different constellations.

Building lasting relationships

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