Master of Arts in Public Spheres


MAPS – Master of Arts in Public Spheres – is an agile multi-sited program which foregrounds travelling and displacing as part of its experimental approach to artistic research. The two-year program is part of the HES-SO University of Applied Arts and Sciences and is geared to artists, who wish to explore the relationship between art and environmental, political, cultural, and media-related dimensions of the public sphere. 

The program is composed of eight stations per year, each consisting of 7-10 days, in which the student’s work becomes a starting point for continuous reflections and artistic exchange. These fluid node points with their various forms of (un-)learning, include research activities, seminars and workshops, screenings, performances, exhibition making, collective discussions and face to face discussions. Stations are conceived by visiting lecturers, students and tutors and foster highly concentrated and convivial moments during which the participants interrogate the public spheres by intervening artistically, investigating environmentally and socially engaged art practices, considering writing and publishing as an artistic practice, working with postcolonial, queer and feminist theories, and adopting alternative approaches to pedagogy. In between the stations, the artists continue their research individually or within self-organized Study Groups, a process that is supported by tutors. Due to the program’s pluri-national context, collective exchange usually take place in English. However, Arabic, French, German, Italian and Spanish are frequently spoken languages among tutors and students and navigating in-between linguistic spaces has become a common practice.
The MAPS home base is located in the alpine town of Sierre in the canton of Valais. Surrounded by an idyllic landscape, the valley is also witness to (post-)industrial development and has become an international laboratory for studying the effects of climate change. Situated at the crossroads between several language borders, Sierre is well connected to various regions of Switzerland as well as to Italy and thus offers access to a broad view on cultural practices. From here we operate and provide fundamental infrastructure.

Half of the stations take place in Valais, the other half outside and in exchange with national and international institutions as well as independent initiatives with which MAPS has established a sustainable network. Recent partners and hosts include, among others, the Istituto Svizzero di Roma (IT), the Vilnius Academy of the Arts and the Nida Art Colony (LT), TRAIN – Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation of Chelsea College of the Arts London (UK), the Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella (IT), Walking Encounters in Psarades (Florina School of the Arts, Greece), the FAR Festival in Nyon, the Arsenic (Centre d'art scénique contemporain) in Lausanne, the collective Mesa 8 in Conception (CL) and the CIC (Contemporay Image Collective) in Cairo.

Current research questions investigated by the faculty include art and labour, politics of attention, environmental crises, speculative narratives, transformation through repetition, critical site-specificities as well as feminist, post and decolonial art histories.

Collaborations with art residency programs such as the Villa Ruffieux (Sierre) or La Becque (La Tour-de-Peilz), offer a fluid transition between the program and the ensuing artistic career. The program’s sustainability is also founded on the regular contributions of alumni whom MAPS support as artists, cultural agents and co-researchers.

The HES-SO Master’s curriculum is offered by three institutions

  • EDHEA, École de design et haute école d’art du Valais
  • HEAD-Genève, Haute école d’art et de design
  • ECAL, École cantonale d’art de Lausanne

    Each of these schools focusses on specific aspects
  • MAPS – Arts in Public Spheres, EDHEA, Sierre
  • WORK.MASTER – Contemporary artistic practices, HEAD-Genève
  • TRANS – Teaching Mediation, HEAD-Genève
  • CCC – Critical Curatorial Cybermedia, HEAD-Genève
  • EAE – European Art Ensemble, ECAL, Lausanne

    Dean of the Visual Arts
    Federica Martini

    Head of the MAPS – Master of Arts in Public Spheres
    Petra Koehle

    Recent guests
    Cecilia Canziani, Paul Goodwin, Patricia Ellis, Mabe Bethonico, Christophe Fellay, Latifa Echakhch, Samia Henni, Zen Marie, Uriel Orlow, Radical Intentions, RELAX (Marie-Antoinette Chiarenza & Daniel Hauser), Anne Rochat, edition fink (Georg Rutishauser, Michiko Onozawa), Stalker

    Admission is competitive. Qualifications required: arts or applied arts school diploma, university degree in a related field or equivalent training or experience

    The application can be sent by mail (Route de la Bonne-Eau 16, 3960 Sierre) or via email or download link to


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