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Of Public Interest (OPI) Lab

Of Public Interest (OPI) Lab 2024
Sketching support structures, OPI Lab, February 2024. Bild: Jonas Dahlberg
Kursen ges på engelska
Course Syllabus OPI Lab 60 ECTS

Of Public Interest (OPI) Lab is a hub and laboratory that operates as a year-long advanced course at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. We focus on and work with spaces referred to as public. Our foundation is the field of art and the different histories, discourses, formal and conceptual strategies that belong to it. However, we seek to engage in methods and approaches from multiple disciplines. 

Working with the public means engaging with complex, often polarized contexts, and it demands that we question what, where, how, why and with whom we do things. 

The OPI Lab group meets one week per month in a former storefront space in Stockholm – the base for the Lab’s work and research. Here, we are immersed in a neighborhood and can maintain a continuous dialogue with (a) particular place/site/situation/public(s). In this setting, we facilitate investigations and “public making” through experimentation and different participant-led projects with starting points in individuals’ practices and interests. 

We explore practice-based thinking and doing though discussions, tests, sketches, prototypes, proposals and propositions. Projects initiated in the Lab are a way to experiment with and commit to integrating artistic values within our working processes. The mediums and forms of expression produced as part of these processes can be sculptural, conceptual, architectural, social, living, and/or participatory in nature. 

The Lab strives to bring together a diverse group of people working with different approaches, with the belief that different backgrounds and life experiences are essential in shaping our public spaces and for an open society. 

We seek a multidisciplinary group of 16 professional practitioners: artists, architects, landscape architects, curators, cultural producers and people from other relevant fields. People interested in actively contributing to a peer-to-peer environment where different languages, practices and ways of understanding place co-exist to form an art and architecture laboratory. 

Each year a new cohort comes together to participate in OPI Lab. The aim is that everyone ends their Lab year with a new beginning – this could be arriving at a point where a longer-term project begins. Or that the knowledge we produce together acts as a catalyst in participants’ own practices, thereby affecting and shaping future work and their respective fields. 

We see OPI Lab as a support structure that establishes ongoing relationships amongst participants and others, through conversations, collaborations, and events that continue after the Lab year.  

Course Content

OPI Lab is located in a former storefront in the neighborhood of Gröndal, Stockholm. It looks out over Gröndal, Lövholmen and Liljeholmen, areas undergoing significant development. Working from the conditions and histories of a specific place, we develop methods that could also be applied to other contexts—not unlike what is necessary when conducting a multiple control group in any experiment. Being embedded in a neighborhood provides grounds upon which to test out ideas—ultimately, as a means of also addressing places and publics beyond the given site. 
The work carried out at OPI Lab is closely tied to socializing with the surroundings and with each other, as a necessary component of building ideas through conviviality. We host a monthly Open Door Session where we cook together, offering food to create a public moment in the space as well as in common spaces within the neighborhood. This format becomes a way to share, discuss and test what we do with colleagues, friends, people from the neighborhood, and passersby. 

OPI Lab is led by the artist Jonas Dahlberg together with the curator and writer Jasmine Hinks. Visit us at our storefront at OPI Lab, Gröndalsvägen 1, 117 66 Stockholm. 

Course Structure  

During the academic year, the group meets one week per month in Stockholm for an intensive session designed around immersive on-site research, individual work and multidisciplinary group collaboration. This structure is complemented with a program of lectures, seminars, workshops, conversations and critique in a format that aims to stimulate knowledge exchange through learning and unlearning in a peer-to-peer setting. These 5-day blocks in Stockholm are mandatory, with a minimum of 80% attendance required on site. 

OPI Lab participants work individually and collaboratively in smaller groups, with a departure point in their own practices and in connection to immersive on-site research. The structure of the course focuses on developing methods and forms of “public making” as experiments within the scope and timeframe of the academic year, culminating in different public makings, prototypes and sketches and potentially a proposal for the future. 

The conversation groups of 3-4 people function as support structures that foster multidisciplinary work and enable focused critical feedback. Between sessions, participants continue their work and research individually as well as in dialogue with their group and the course leaders as required. These parallel modalities allow for research and project proposals to develop at different paces, following the logic of each project, and for participants to collaborate with their peers in the Lab while maintaining focus on their own professional practice. 

In the past we have invited a wide range of guests to speak with us at OPI Lab.  

These include: Oscar Tuazon, Pilvi Takala, Amol K Patil, Hendrik Folkerts, Sumayya Vally, Sandra Mujinga, Joar Nango, Lap-See Lam, Asrin Haidari, Manuel Cirauqui, Sissel Tolaas, Jill Magid, Jumana Manna, Lea Porsager, Runo Lagomarsino, Assemble, Cooking Sections (Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe), Joanna Warzsa, Stephen Wright, Raqs Media Collective, Carlo Ratti Associati, Alexander Eriksson Furunes and Sudarchan Khadka Jr, Wael Al Awar, Monument Lab, Ken Lum, Katie Paterson, Katarina Pirak Sikku, Can Altay, Unscene Architecture (Madeleine Kessler and Manijeh Verghese), Olivia Plender, Nato Thomson. 

The on-site sessions for 2024/2025 are planned to take place in Stockholm as follows:  

  • 2nd - 6th September 2024 
  • 30th September – 4th October 2024 
  • 4th – 8th November 2024 
  • 2nd – 6th December 2024 
  • 6th-10th January 2025 
  • 3rd -7th February 2025 
  • 3rd – 7th March 2025 
  • 31st March – 4th April 2025 
  • 5th – 9th May 2025 
  • 2nd - 6th June 2025 

    In the event of study trips, additional costs may apply. 
Credits60 ECTS (100%)
LevelAdvanced level
Entry RequirementsDegree of Master of Fine Arts, or a Master’s degree in another relevant field of study, or prior learning (equivalent professional experience)
SelectionSelection is made based on an overall assessment of the applicant’s submitted work samples (maximum 5), CV, and a letter of motivation reflecting on why the conceptual frame of the course is relevant for the applicant. Interviews may be conducted as part of the final selection process.
Academic YearAutumn term 240902 – 250119
Spring term  250120 – 250608
Responsible teacherJonas Dahlberg, Jasmine Hinks
Contactjonas.dahlberg@kkh.se, jasmine.hinks@kkh.se, studera.postmaster@kkh.se