International networks in fine arts

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


The joint project of Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts and the Saastamoinen Foundation fosters dialogue between teaching in fine arts and the international art community. At the same time, it renews the Finnish education and research in fine arts.

The main goals are to deepen the student’s understanding of working as an artist in international contexts and to 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.

The 2021–2025 project period supports the following initiatives: residencies for Academy of Fine Arts alumni, a mentorship program for students, a visiting professor program, Saastamoinen Foundation Keynote lectures, the online conversation series Ac/kademie Talks, and an exchange programme for doctoral students and researchers engaged in artistic research.

Alumni residencies

Our residency programmes, aimed at the alumni of the Academy of Fine Arts, support post-graduate studies of visual artists in high-quality residences abroad in periods ranging from 3 to 12 months. Our programme partners are: SPACE Art + Technology in London, ISCP – International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York, Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, LIFT – Liason of Independent Filmmakers in Toronto and Cove Park and Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Scotland. In addition, it is possible to receive a grant to Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam, if a graduate from the Academy of Fine Arts is selected to its residency program.

The call for LIFT opens in February and the call for Jan van Eyck Academie in March 2024. The next call for Ecologies in the Making: Sculpting Futures residency program in Scotland and for the ISCP residency in New York will open in September 2024. The artist selections are made by a yearly changing and residency specific jury panel of specialists, together with the hosting residency organisation. Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten accepts applications via their open call in autumn.

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. The mentors help the students develop skills needed in international contexts. Through lessons, studio visits and feedback discussions, the students gain unique tools to review their own work from various perspectives. The programme is a chance for next-generation artists to engage in a mutually rewarding dialogue with international art professionals who have already established themselves in the field.

Program mentors:
2015-2016 visual artist Pilvi Takala
2017-2021 visual artist Pilvi Takala and curator Angela Rosenberg
2022-2023 Curator, Art Historian, Author Angela Rosenberg and visual artist Hans Rosenström
2024-2025 Curator, Art Historian, Author Angela Rosenberg and Curator, Writer, Art Historian Jonatan Habib Engqvist

Saastamoinen Foundation Keynote

The speaker of the annual Saastamoinen Foundation 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. British artist, professor and researcher Sonia Boyce was invited as Keynote speaker in 2022. During the same year, Boyce won the Golden Lion for best national participation at the Venice Biennale with her work Feeling Her Way. Italian Philosopher Emanuele Coccia is the invited speaker for 2023.

  • 2016: Okwui Enwezor
  • 2017: Artist Duo Elmgreen & Dragset
  • 2018: Adam Szymczyk
  • 2019: Martha Rosler
  • 2020: Andrea Giunta. Keynote title: What We Can or Cannot See in Latin American Art.
  • 2022: Sonia Boyce. Keynote title: Oh – What Non­sense: ex­plor­ing so­cial play, im­pro­vi­sa­tion and trans­gres­sions.
  • 2023: Emanuele Coccia. Keynote title: Don’t Call Me Gaia. Notes For a Planetary Art.

The 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. A donation from the Saastamoinen Foundation allows the academy to continue developing the Visiting Professor programme.

New steps in artistic research

The New Steps programme promoting the pluralism of artistic research was launched at the Uniarts Helsinki´s Academy of Fine Arts in 2021. The programme strengthens and expands the international academic network of doctoral students and researchers at the Academy of Fine Arts. Brigitta Stone-Johnson (Wits School of Art/Johannesburg) and Zen Marie (Wits School of Art/Johannesburg) will be visiting the Academy of Fine Arts Research Days in December 2022. At the Research Days, Stone-Johnson and Marie will each give a public, streamed lecture. An artistic research workshop aimed at graduate students and researchers will also be organised during their visit.

In the New Steps programme, doctoral students and researchers of the Academy of Fine Arts are awarded grants for visiting a non-domestic university or art institution relevant to their own research. In 2023, the primary partner will be the Wits School of Art in Johannesburg.

Project name

International incubators in fine arts




Saastamoinen Foundation


Sade Kahra
Project Manager
+358 (0)50 452 3047