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Dirty Art Department, Amsterdam

Five years ago the Sandberg Instituut invited designer Jerszy Seymour to set up a new post-grad programme in Applied Arts to challenge students to “critically question the discourses structuring the field of art and design” and “engage with social reality as hybrid artist-designers”. Inspired by radical school projects of the past Seymour responded by founding the Dirty Art Department in 2011 together with Catherine Geel, Clémence Seilles and Stephane Barbier-Bouvet as a launch pad for people and ideas.

“[It is] concerned with individuality, collectivity, and our navigation of the complex relationship between the built world, the natural world and other people and ourselves”, says Seymour. The 22 course students spend two years on a magical mystery tour that questions just about every convention. Last spring they and the teaching staff squatted a building where they can now live, work, party and exhibit.
Seymour wants to stop the course after five to six years before it turns into “dogma and an institution of itself”. “The dirty art department will blow up in a hot cool gentle explosion and transfer into something else” he adds, “perhaps after the autonomous building we go to the autonomous land, grow vegetables, rear some goats, grow our hair long, fuck each other, give up art and education and live happily ever after.” Long live the commune.


Author: Sophie Lovell




Manifesto of the Dirty Art Department :


‘The Dirty Art Department offers itself as an open space for all possible thought, creation, and action.

It sees itself as a dynamic paradox, flowing between the pure and the applied, the existential and the deterministic, and the holy and the profane.

It is concerned with individuality, collectivity, and our navigation of the complex relationship between the built world and the natural world, and other people and ourselves.

It’s a place to build objects or totems, religions or websites, revolutions or business models, paintings, or galaxies.

The Dirty Art Department comes from a common background of design and applied art, it seeks however to reject the Kantian division between the pure and the applied arts.
Since ‘god is dead’ and ‘the spectacle’ is omnipresent, it sees the creation of alternative and new realities as the way to reconsider our life situation on this planet.

The Dirty Art Department is open to students from all backgrounds including designers, artists, bankers, skeptics, optimists, economists, philosophers, sociologists, independent thinkers, poets, urban planners, farmers, anarchists, and the curious.

Please enjoy the trip’


Author: Jerszy Seymour