The School of Engaged Art

The School of Engaged Art is a permanent educational initiative, founded by the collective Chto Delat in 2013. From 2013 to 2017 the school involved more than 80 young people into the process of studying in the School.

Country: Saint-Petersburg, Russia

The school operates on a modular system – classes are held one week a month and the School gives scholarships for the travel of nonresident participants. Starting in 2015, the School works in the space of the ROSA House of Culture*, being its central educational initiative.


This graphic project was realized by Sonia Akimova (a graduate of the School in 2014) and tutor Nikolai Oleinikov for the book “Why Become an Artist” in 2016 and presents an incredible combination of favorite characters that the School inspires in its curriculum.


Why we have called our project the School for Engaged Art?

A central component of our school is the idea of collective practice.  We want to develop a range of models for collective art production while of course continuing to discuss personal projects.  We are convinced that a community of learners emerging in this way will have no place for neutral, unengaged abstractions. .  Such a school requires all participants to take a position in this world, where fundamental battle lines are drawn by developing a particular ideological/aesthetic movement. It is important to point out that our goal is not to teach students how to make a career as an artist.  Instead, we practice art as a vocation. We are not going to provide students with all the right “connections”—we simply want to introduce them to interesting, wonderful people. We don’t promise anyone that they will become rich and famous — we want them to share an experience of that fullness of being, freedom, and becoming, without which no self-realization is possible in the world.


* The ROSA’s House of Culture is about constructing counter-public at the moment of closure of publicness. The core of the activities of our “D.K. Rosy”  are different initiatives which we welcome from different field of activism and alternative educational initiatives such as an grass roots unions of IT workers, the union structure of educational workers (профсоюз «Учитель»), some self-organized feminist theater groups, sewing educational co-operative “Shvemy” and our School of Engaged Art. We constantly ask ourselves:How independent houses of culture could “function as spaces of withdrawal and regroupment and/or as training grounds for agitational activities directed toward wider publics” (Nancy Fraser)?