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Swedish City Evicts Art College, Leaving Its Future in the Balance

The exterior of the Malmö Art Academy with a banner and posters (all photos by and courtesy Andreas B. Amble)
The exterior of the Malmö Art Academy with a banner and posters (all photos by and courtesy Andreas B. Amble and used with permission)

Today the Malmö Art Academy (MAA) in Malmö, Sweden, held an open house at the Mellersta Förstadsskolan, the 1898 building that has been its home for the past 21 years. But it may be the art school’s final open house in the building, as the municipal government has moved to evict the MAA.

Students Andreas Franzen and John Alberts making banners for the Malmö Art Academy open house
Students Andreas Franzen and John Alberts making banners for the Malmö Art Academy open house (click to enlarge)

The city of Malmö is in dire need of additional elementary and high schools, and has given Lund University (which runs the MAA) a year to vacate the building so that it can be turned into a school. With no interim solution in view before the June 30, 2017 deadline — a planned campus construction project to unite Lund University’s music, theater, and art academies and its interdisciplinary arts center will not be complete until 2020 at the earliest, and not before 2027 by some estimates — many fear the school will be forced to shut down. The university’s administration, however, maintains that a solution can be reached to save the MAA.

“Lund University has no intention of closing the academy, and the city of Malmö has expressed the intention [of] helping to prepare a workable solution in advance of the academy needing to move out,” Solfrid Söderlind, the dean of the Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts, said in a statement on Thursday. “So there is no question of closure or shut-down of the Malmö Art Academy.”

Meanwhile, students at the MMA, who only learned of the school’s impending eviction this week, are less hopeful in their outlook. An online petition addressed to the Malmö city council and municipal government — which, as of this writing, has acrued over 5,000 signatures — presents a far more dire scenario.

The exterior of the Malmö Art Academy with a banner
The exterior of the Malmö Art Academy with a banner

“The school has not been provided with any suitable interim premises suitable for its needs and  operations,” reads a statement sent to Hyperallergic by MAA student representative Andreas B. Amble. “Without a school building we cannot continue as an Academy. The consequence is that an extraordinary art academy that has proven to be of exceptional quality and world renown, educating students of bachelor, master, and PhD levels, has to shut down within a year. This is unheard of and will be a tremendous loss for the Scandinavian, European, and international art scene.”

Articles, yearbooks, flyers, T-shirts an Tiril Hasselknippe's poster contribution ready for mounting for the Malmö Art Academy open house
Articles, yearbooks, flyers, T-shirts and Tiril Hasselknippe’s poster contribution for mounting for the Malmö Art Academy open house (click to enlarge)

Hyperallergic has contacted the Malmö municipal government for comment on the MAA situation, but received no additional information. A meeting between Lund University administration and the city is scheduled for June 28.

Founded in 1995, the MAA offers BFA and MFA degrees, as well as a PhD in fine arts, a BA in Critical Studies, and MA degrees in Critical and Pedagogical Studies. The academy’s alumni include Nathalie Djurberg, Mats Andersson, Gabriella Ioannides, and Henrik Lund Jørgensen. Its faculty includes the artists Haegue Yang, Nina Roos, and Emily Wardill.

“It takes years to build such an unusual and distinctive place of learning and just days to destroy it,” Wardill said in a statement. “Please let us not be so unwise as to take away one of the greatest aspects of this city.”

 

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