Master in Fine Arts - TRANS – Socially Engaged Art Practices


TRANS– master is one of the three master programs in Visual Arts in HEAD – Genève. It offers its students an ideal framework of reflection about collaborative production modes. Art as a possible vector for social transformation, the artist’s engagement in society and the use of pedagogical processes as a tool for collaborative artistic production, are the specifics of this program. 

Indeed, TRANS– master aims to foster a conscious, ethical and problematized approach of artistic work in a social context, based on alternative, critical and feminist pedagogies (in relationship with a reflection on new masculinities) in particular, and on the concept of transpedagogy, that is to say the action to blend art and education in order to create singular forms of exchange and knowledge production. 

In order to broaden intellectual and professional perspectives, TRANS– invites international guests, artists or researchers in the field of socially engaged art practices and of critical gallery education. Those interventions, nourished by the singular practice of each guest lecturer, take multiple forms and invite students to immerse in exploratory propositions and processes (presentations, conferences, workshops, guided tours, urban promenades) which mingle theoretical, critical and visual research.

TRANS– proposes different forms of public address (exhibitions/projects, open seminars, un-conferences, publications, etc.) to open the frame for discussion about the role of artists in society. The bilingual (FR – ENG) program also engages the students in public conferences on socially engaged art practices or radical education in international contexts, and within different research fields led by the teachers. 


From Spring 2020, in discussion with artist Jorgge Menna Barretto, master TRANS— engages in a long-term reflection around the notion of ecopedagogy. This emerging term refers to a dialogical pedagogy relating to co-construction and care, which enables and supports new relationships to our environment. 

The sanitary crisis caused by COVID-19 largely disruptes the program and the ways to work in master TRANS—. In this instable and complex context, students and teachers question whether socially engaged art practices can take place when the contexts in which they usually intervene are temporarily shut down and when social exchanges are slowly vanishing. With regard to what we are experiencing, how to carry on with our reflection on the transformative dimension of socially engaged art practices when constrained by repetitive lockdowns. In order to bounce back from this situation, the students conceive a Reader for the Future, first as an archival and exploratory working space, then as a digital and printed edition, in which are condensed interrogations, practices and feelings testifying of both the difficulty to work together whence obliged to ‘physical distancing’ and the importance of collectives in such contexts. They also start working on a printed edition which will propose a reflexive sight on the collaborative artistic projects they have been working on in 2019-2020.

This work reaffirmes the crucial dimension of socially engaged art practices, the key articulation of master TRANS—, in order to imagine other ways to work together, to invent new roles to be played by artists in the social sphere beyond artistic and cultural institutions. The ongoing collaborative projects with the Veduta platform (Biennale de Lyon), with Belle-Idée (HUG, Geneva) or with the MAMCO offer the students as so many experimentation fields in order to deploy such approaches. 

Today, it accurately appears that the working contexts proposed by master TRANS— are more likely to enable such elaboration of credible alternatives to the undermined institutional cultural institutions.


Going through diverse practices - such as situationnist, activist, interventionist or transpedagogical ones – the seminar sessions, supported partly by the teaching team and partly by the students themselves (reading group) seek to question different alternative strategies to an individualist and competitive approach of art. 

In order to stimulate exchanges and to encourage the emergence of forms of solidarities between the students, a standard week in TRANS— program is composed of three days of shared presence in the TRANS— spaces (seminars, workshops, individual or collective mentoring sessions) and of two self-managed days dedicated to the development of individual practices and collective projects. 

Each student has the opportunity to get a place inside a collective working space. Apart from pursuing one’s practice in the field of contemporary arts, TRANS— program offers professional perspectives in gallery education, artistic intervention in formal or informal educational contexts and art practices in social contexts.

Access the Trans Master website
Access the Fine Arts Department schedule of events
Guide de l'étudiant.e Arts visuels Master 2019-20 (in French) 

Degree awarded: 
Master of Arts HES-SO in Fine Arts, major in TRANS - Art Education

Head of Department


Mathilde Chénin

Teaching staff

Invited speakers

Mabe Bethônico, Jorgge Menna Barreto, Bureau d’études, Marc Breviglieri, Isabelle Chladek, Common Interest, Kadiatou Diallo, Dias & Riedweg, Janna Graham, Axelle Grégoire, Pablo Helguera, Thomas Hirschhorn, Myriam Lefkowitz, Olivier Marboeuf, Mathieu Menghini, Carmen Mörsch, Nils Norman, Nicolás Paris, Marie Preston, Rester. Étranger, Rosabrux (Jeanne Gillard et Nicolas Rivet), Greg Sholette, Nora Sternfeld, Tilo Steireif, Wochenklausur