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Giaco Schiesser is an author, editor and Prof. em. for the theories of cultures and media and for artistic research, Zurich University of the Arts/ZHdK (since 2022) as well as a visiting professor for artistic and scientific PhDs at University of Art and Design Linz, Austria (since 2009).
Born in Glarus/Switzerland, Giaco Schiesser studied Philosophy, Cultural studies and German literature studies at Free University of Berlin/Westberlin (1976–1981). Afterwards he became an associate lecturer at Free University and assistant lecturer at the Institute for German Literature, University of Basle/Switzerland (1981-1988).
From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s he mainly worked as a publicist and a scientific editor: For ten years he was co-publisher of the scientific-political-cultural journal Widerspruch, for five years in charge of the section Science & Humanities of the weekly Die Wochenzeitung, WoZ, both published in Zurich/Switzerland. At the same time he was an associate researcher at the Hamburg-based Institute for Research of Migration and Racism (Institut Migrations- und Rassismusforschung) with a research focus on contemporary constitutions of the subject.
From the mid-1990s until 2022 he was a professor, head of programme and a board member of Zurich University of Art and Design, HGKZ and its successor, Zurich University of the Arts, ZHdK. First, as a lecturer of the theory and history of visual communication, then, in 1998, he established the studies programme New Media (since 2017: BA Art & Media / Digital Practices) at HGKZ, which he directed from 1999 to 2002 together with artistic media group Knowbotic Research and media artist Margarete Jahrmann. Since the mid-1990ies the focus of his scietific work was centered on the far-reaching economical, political and cultural impact of the digitalisation of today’s post-Fordist society and on the conception of the Eigensinn of media, an attempt to analyze more precisely and harness the «mediality of media» and its impact and effects on the arts and beyond.
Since the beginning of the 2000s he served as a professor for the theories and media in the MFA programme (2002–2018) and as head of Department of Media & Art/HGKZ and of Department of Art & Media/ZHdK (2002–2017). In these capacities he assumed responsibility for the conception and realisation of novel artistic curricula–a New Media programme, novel BA and MA Fine Arts curricula–and, within the most recent years for the conception of novel artistic (practice based) Ph.D. programmes. Since the beginning of the 2000s, besides his dealing with the Eigensinn of media, his scientific practice has been focusing on a series of topics and areas as authorship, psychoanalysis, Bob Dylan as DJ and questions of the constitution of the subject/of singularities.
Since the end of the 2000ies he has been tackling institutionally, theoretically and practically the epistemology and problematics of “artistic research” (art based or art-led research). In 2011 he established the first art research PhD programme at ZHdK, which he headed till 2021.
From 2009 to its closing down in 2017 he was co-heading the interdisciplinary Cortona-Week, organized by ETH Zurich and ZHdK, which offered a unique dispositive for indepth exchange of insights amongst sciences, humanities and the arts. From 2013 to 2020 he was a member, from 2015 to 2020 vice-president of the Executive Board of Society for Artistic Research (SAR). Since 2005 to date, as one of the board members, he has been involved in the restoration and renewal of the formerly run down Art-Déco Kurhaus Bergün AG/Switzerland, a cultural, social and touristically sustainable project.
In December 2019 he was honoured with the first-time edition award «Top 100 Leaders in Education», awarded by the “Global Forum for Education & Learning (GFEL). The purpose of the award is «to honor the relentless efforts and zeal of individuals, who have played a prominent role in changing the face of education at the global as well as the local level.”
.Giaco Schiesser has been teaching as a guest professor and lecturer at various universities and Art Schools in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and China. He has been invited to give lectures and workshops and share his experiences as a university board member, head of programmes, researcher and reviewer alike at Universities and Art Schools in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Georgian Republic, China, Japan and the United States.
His work and his publications focus on: epistemology, aesthetics, art research | theories of cultures, media, subjects | democracy, public spheres, every day culture