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Sebastian Olma

1973, Germany

Started working at Master Institute of Visual Cultures in 2015

Education and Work Experience

Professor Dr. Sebastian Olma holds the research chair for Autonomy at the Centre of Applied Research for Art, Design and Technology (Caradt) at Avans University of Applied Sciences. Professor Olma began his academic career by pursuing interdisciplinary studies in the social sciences and humanities at universities in Germany and the US. He earned a PhD from the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London, in 2007 with a dissertation analysing the ontology of contemporary capitalism.

He began his professional career by conducting a number of academic research projects on art and the creative industries for institutions such as Goldsmiths and the Royal Dutch Academy of Science (KNAW). Professor Olma worked as a researcher at the Institute of Network Cultures at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. As a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, he guided PhD researchers performing critical examinations of the creative industries. His professional experience as a policy advisor and consultant led him to the publication of In Defence of Serendipity (Repeater 2016), a book critiquing creative industries policies and exploring radical strategies of social innovation that transcend conventional definitions of creativity and innovation. 

As professor of Autonomy in Art, Design and Technology, Olma has built a research group working on the development of a timely notion of autonomy for contemporary art and design practice. His vision on autonomy is developed in two publications: Autonomy and Weltbezug (Avans 2016) and Art and Autonomy. Past – Present – Future (_V2 2018). Since 2018, he teaches the theory course Contemporary Thought at the Master Institute of Visual Cultures AKV | St. Joost. He’s the co-founder (with Andreas Krüger) of the Dérive Berlin Residency Programme that AKV | St. Joost master students can apply for twice a year.

Professor Olma regularly participates in public debates, highlighting the inherent contradiction between fact and fiction when it comes to creative industries, art and innovation. In 2017, he was appointed an advisor to the Dutch Council for Culture. He lives in Amsterdam, where he edits the subcultural magazine Amsterdam Alternative and serves as chairman of the board at the autonomous cultural centre OT301.