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Berlin Sommerakademie

Sculpture of a military tank made of brownish-red leather; the wheels are prominent, but the top of the tank is deflated. Students are standing in the gallery looking at the tank; a multi-piece artwork installation is on the wall behind them.

MFA-VA students view He Xiangyu’s leather tank, part of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art’s Fire and Forget exhibition.

The Sommerakademie explores multiple modes of creative and cultural production in relation to the material, social, and political conditions of Berlin, Germany. In this seminar-based course, which begins on-campus in the spring semester and extends into the summer for travel abroad, students gain an understanding of how artists address history, communities, and social contexts in relation to the conceptual and practical dimensions of their work.


As they investigate how artists and cultural producers engage public space, students examine modes of production that may involve collaboration and situational engagement. Berlin’s contemporary architectural sites—which are witness to the city’s traumatic past during the Third Reich and Cold War division, as well as its global presence—provide an opportunity to consider spatial, temporal, social, and political aspects of context-driven work.

The Sommerakademie includes discussions with artists, architects, historians, art dealers, and gallerists in various districts. Past visits have included:


Galerie Neu
Klosterfelde Galerie
Peres Projects
Neugerriemschneider Galerie
Galerie Eigen + Art
Capitain Petzel
Soy Capitán
Galerie Barbara Weiss
Galerie Crone
Peres Projects
Galerie Olaf Stüber
Croy Nielsen

Artist Studios, Critics, & Projects Sites

Olafur Eliasson
Katharina Grosse
Omer Fast
Candice Breitz
Daniela Comani
Claudia Schmacke
Sven Johne
Renata Stih + Frieder Schnock
Susan Philipsz
Krist Gruijthuijsen
Gabrielle Knapstein
Leonardo Bigazzi
Karin Sander
Thomas Locher
Nils Plath
Jan Verwoert
Lisa Long

Museums & Cultural Institutions

The Reichstag
The Jewish Museum (Jüdisches Museum Berlin)
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
The Stasi Prison
The Boros Collection
The Topography of Terror
Hamburger Bahnhof
The Kunst-Werde Institute for Contemporary Art
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Neuer Berliner Kunstverein
Museum fur Naturkunde
Venice Biennale
Berlin Biennale
Julia Stoschek Collection