Autonomous Practices

The Autonomous Practices is one of three interdisciplinary graduation profiles at the Willem de Kooning Academy, which welcomes students from all majors currently offered at the academy. Students within the Autonomous Practices are encouraged to radically experiment with what art and design can be, and to develop projects that might not even be strictly identifiable as such anymore. At the core of the curriculum lies a critical inquiry into and experimentation with what autonomy can mean today, how it relates to life praxis, and how autonomy can be (re)defined and practiced in various creative disciplines.


WdKA’s Autonomous Practices students and tutors collectively investigate autonomy in relation to bottom-up practices that position themselves as interdependent, self-directed, and often without predefined outcomes whose methods of working are constantly being (re)invented and tested.

WdKA’s Autonomous Practices reflect on self-organised practices, not only in the educational content but also in the form of its curriculum. The challenge for WdKA’s Autonomous Practices is to translate its research and experiment into new curricula that do justice to its subject and concerns.

Read more about Autonomous Practices on our ever-changing and never finished, position paper pad:  

Within Autonomous Practices, students can follow one of four vraagstukken i.e.: Critical Studies, Digital Craft, Hacking, and Public and Private, which can be further explored in the minors, to help build systematic knowledge toward the student’s final graduation project. These four vraagstukken roughly cover relevant fields of inquiry in which an autonomous practitioner may be expected to operate. They provide a framework for students to work with – not limiting them in any way, but rather helping them to contextualise their work. In this way, students are being challenged to think of their work within these frameworks, and to further develop it by formulating their own project proposals and research goals.

Therefore Critical Studies, Digital Craft, Hacking, and Public and Private are not medium-specific; students may choose the media, methods and materials that best allow them to pursue their objectives. Each vraagstuk has its own specific themes being introduced by tutors with relevant professional backgrounds, and external partners to collaborate with.


The Autonomous Practices is an interdisciplinary graduation profile at WdKA that offers four Vraagstukken (subjects): Critical Studies, Hacking, Digital Craft and Public & Private.

The Critical Studies vraagstuk encourages students to question their reality; frames, normativities, and paradigms, and how to think in transformative ways. Inspired by the emancipatory field of critical theory, the course is oriented towards investigating and exposing power structures, including those in art and design.

Within the Critical Studies vraagstuk, the core question is: What are autonomous ways of doing artistic research in relation to contemporary social and political contexts?

Hacking is finding applications that were not intended by the creator of a system, in short: subverting systems. In Autonomous Practices Hacking is considered to be a communal effort based on dialogue, countering hierarchy and striving for equality, in which people share and continue on each other’s work. In a society with ever expanding, life-dominating systems, hacking can be used to find new and unintended uses, as well as question or even counter these systems, delivering agency on multiple levels.

Within the Hacking vraagstuk, the core question is: When can, and should, subversive strategies be communally developed to counter specific systems within their socio-political contexts?

In Digital Craft vraagstuk students acquire and share concrete skills for working with both digital and analogue media; they continuously refine their ideas, experiments and techniques. Digital Craft students research by making and experimenting: burning their fingers on the soldering iron, tinkering on sensors, and scripting codes. Students are encouraged to explore and investigate interactive elements in their work.

Within the Digital Craft vraagstuk, the core question is: In times of increasing autonomously operating systems, how to make these technologies your own?

The Public & Private vraagstuk is centered around critical self-guidance and artistic self-organisation. It departs from the notion that public space is a political place that is under constant pressure of many agendas. In order to interact with it, it needs to be claimed, and for this, (self-)organisation is necessary.

Within the Public & Private vraagstuk, the core question is: How can bottom-up, self-organized initiatives contribute to redefining public life?


Within Autonomous Practices we have a core teaching team closely connected with the WdKA Research Center. You can view their profiles here

Next to that we have guest teachers joining us for specific projects each year.