International Incubators in Fine Arts

The Academy of Fine Arts offers its students and alumni the opportunity to learn more about fine arts in international contexts.

Andrea Giunta giving the Saastamoinen Keynote Lecture 2020 at Exhibition Laboratory.


The joint project of Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts and the Saastamoinen Foundation fosters the dialogue between teaching in fine arts and the international art community, all the while renewing the Finnish education and research in fine arts.

The main goal is to deepen the student’s understanding of working as an artist in international contexts and establish a culture of long-term international collaboration with high-quality partners. Being part of an inspiring international community with extensive networks supports the core duty of arts education – to help students develop versatile perception skills, a critical way of thinking and an independent form of expression.

In 2021–2025, the Saastamoinen Foundation will support the following initiatives: residencies for Academy of Fine Arts alumni, a mentorship programme for students, a visiting professor programme, Keynote lectures, a discussion series named Ac/kademie Talks, and an exchange programme for doctoral students and researchers engaged in artistic research.

Alumni residencies

The Academy of Fine Arts offers a residency programme for its alumni to support the studies of visual artists in high-quality residencies after graduating with a master’s degree. The academy’s residency partners are Cove Park and the Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Scotland, Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, ISCP – International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York, Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto and SPACE in London. In addition, it’s possible to receive a grant to Rijksakademie van Beldeende Kunsten in Amsterdam, if a graduate from the Academy of Fine Arts is selected to its residency programme. The call for applications is usually in January/February.

International mentoring programme

The international mentoring programme of the Academy of Fine Arts follows a new model of guidance and instruction: internationally successful artists and professionals in the arts provide support for a student’s journey of growing into an artist and help them develop skills needed in international contexts. Through lessons, studio visits and feedback discussions, the student is given unique tools to review their own work from various perspectives. The programme is a chance for artists of the next generation to engage in a mutually rewarding dialogue with international art professionals who have already established themselves in the field.

Saastamoinen Keynote lectures

The speaker of the annual Keynote lecture is a person with an international impact and wide recognition in the arts community – an artist, curator, writer or some other influencer. The first lecture in the series was held in January 2016 by Okwui Enwezor, the director of the Haus Der Kunst Museum in Munich and the curator of the Venice Biennale 2015. In 2017, the Keynote speakers were Elmgreen & Dragset, an artist duo who served as the curators of the Istanbul Biennial. In 2018, the speaker was Adam Szymczyk, who has worked as the artistic director of Documenta 14, for example. The 2019 lecture was held by Martha Rosler, a US-born pioneer in feminist art, and the 2020 lecture by Andrea Giunta, an esteemed expert in Latin American art.

Ac/kademie series

A new discussion forum, Ac/kademie, was launched in the autumn of 2021. The forum represents a new form of remote pedagogy, and it will be organised by the Academy of Fine Arts in collaboration with the Jan van Eyck Academie and the Rijksadamie from the Netherlands, which are both amongst the most important academies offering further education for artists in Europe. The academies will open the doors to their studios once a month in virtual events which focus on the diverse range of artistic practices of their artists-in-residence. Anyone interested in art is welcome to follow the discussions.

Visiting professor programme

Every year, many internationally renowned artists and experts in the field of art come to the Academy of Fine Arts as visiting professors. The donation by the Saastamoinen Foundation allows the Academy to continue to develop the visiting professor programme in the long term.

Best Practices in Artistic Research

A new exchange programme for doctoral students and scholars engaged in artistic research will be launched in 2021.

Programmes ending in 2021

Prognostics lectures explore new artistic practices, which not only challenge established forms of art and exhibition but also shake up social norms and thinking in society.

The Resident Fellow programme is aimed at international artists and researchers, who are invited to the Academy of Fine Arts to inspire its teaching activities and to raise students’ awareness of the diverse range of artistic practices and cultures. The Resident Fellow programme is linked not only to the international artist’s own art and interaction with students and teachers, but also to the academy’s curriculum.

Project name

International incubators in fine arts


Saastamoinen Foundation