What can we learn from institutional experiments and alternative academies? Provided here is a sample of “art schools” that adopt nomadic infrastructure, collective governance and parasitic practices, which critique and respond to accredited and legitimized models of higher learning.

A list of common characteristics of educational art projects from Kristina Lee Podesva’s 2007 article, A Pedagogical Turn: Brief Notes on Education as Art

  1. A school structure that operates as a social medium.
  2. A dependence on collaborative production.
  3. A tendency toward process (versus object) based production.
  4. An aleatory or open nature.
  5. An ongoing and potentially endless temporality.
  6. A free space for learning.
  7. A post-hierarchical learning environment where there are no teachers, just co-participants.
  8. A preference for exploratory, experimental, and multi-disciplinary approaches to knowledge production.
  9. An awareness of the instrumentalization of the academy.
  10. A virtual space for the communication and distribution of ideas.

(Kristina Lee Podesva, A Pedagogical Turn: Brief Notes on Education as Art [Fillip Review, no. 6, 2007]



Nollert, Angelika, Irit Rogoff, Bart De Baere, Yilmaz Dziewior, and Charles Esche. A.C.A.D.E.M.Y. Christoph Kellerrevolver Verlag, 2007.

Including visual essays, artist projects and educational concepts that question the economic bonds between exhibiting institutions and art academies, the collection focuses on projects which develop publics or counterpublics as they come into being, rather than reaching toward a pre-defined audience.


The Copenhagen Free University opened in May 2001 in our flat. The Free University is an artist run institution dedicated to the production of critical consciousness and poetic language. We do not accept the so-called new knowledge economy as the framing understanding of knowledge. We work with forms of knowledge that are fleeting, fluid, schizophrenic, uncompromising, subjective, uneconomic, acapitalist, produced in the kitchen, produced when asleep or arisen on a social excursion – collectively. (Mission Statement)




The Independent School of Art is an experimental art school that autonomously operates without external resources, accreditation, or a physical site. Run solely through the labor and efforts of its participants, the school fosters an action-based approach to college-level arts education, a real-world model where students are challenged to determine and create their own artistic realities. The school’s barter-based tuition system makes explicit the social contract between students and teachers and honors their collective labor as a vital form of cultural production. Locating nomadically, the school prioritizes social over physical architecture, and asks all involved to imagine how their practice might intersect and respond to a larger set of physical situations and cultural possibilities. (Mission Statement)




The Mountain School of Arts was established in 2005 with the unique objective of supplying the academic community with a distinct brand of cultural fortification. . The discipline of fine art remains the driving motive for the schools progression and development as a cultural institution. Simultaneously, MSA^ concern itself with a variety of disciplines as diverse as basic and advanced science lessons to criminal and civil law. Students of this unique educational amalgam continue to enjoy an even keeled program comparable to the standard Californian college/university. The Mountain School of Arts is devoted to cultural engagement on an international level. It is also a fundamental concern of the school to communicate to an expansive variety of people and share information that will help and support the individual in whatever discipline they pursue. We are pleased to offer an independent program with a serious and obligated faculty. Commitment is number one at MSA^ in terms of study, participation and effort. The administration, the faculty and the student body, work together as a singular entity to construct a stress-free, mutually beneficial and organic alternative to the typical university. MSA^ considers itself a supplement and amendment to the university system and encourages involvement with the established educational system. (Mission Statement)




The School of Panamerican Unrest is an artist-led, not-for -profit public art project initiated in 2003 that seeks to generate connections between the different regions of the Americas through discussions, performances, screenings, and short-term and long-term collaborations between organizations and individuals. Its main component was a nomadic forum or think-tank that will cross the hemisphere by land, from Anchorage, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego. This hybrid project included a collapsible and movable architectural structure in the form of a schoolhouse, as well as a video collection component. The project, which seeks to involve a wide range of audiences and engage them at different levels, offers alternative ways to understand the history, ideology, and lines of thought that have significantly impacted political, social and cultural events in the Americas. (Mission Statement)