Based on the understanding that education is not a talent training but an open-ended, continuing process, the inaugural year of WHW Akademija piloted the idea of co-learning and testing and developing models through trial and error with lengthy discussions and various emergent formats of collective activity, as well as collaborative events and impromptu performative gestures. The participants of WHW Akademija in the inaugural 2018–19 year were: Laura Barić (Zagreb), Jakub Danilewicz (Gdańsk), Philippa Driest (Rotterdam), Vida Guzmić (Zagreb), Larion Lozovoy (Kyiv), Petra Mrša (Rijeka), Jelena Petric (Zagreb), and Paky Vlassopoulou (Athens).
The program was structured through two-week intensives that alternated with series of workshops, seminars and meetings with international and local curators, artists, cultural workers, theorists and activists.
The resident professors were: Ben Cain, Tina Gverović, and Sanja Iveković, and guest professors were: Pierre Bal-Blanc, Rajkamal Khalon, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, and Adam Szymczyk. Guest speakers and collaborators included Greg de Cuir Jr., Mladen Domazet, Charles Esche, Ana Janevski, Božena Končić Badurina, Oscar Murillo, Manuel Pelmuş, Kathrin Rhomberg, Dubravka Sekulić, Marko Tadić, Goran Trbuljak, Jelena Vesić, and Želimir Žilnik.
For the 2018–19 year, WHW Akademija was anchored in Studio David Maljković, which was employed as a space of work and contemplation that simultaneously functioned as a shared artistic studio, a space to do exercises, and an event venue for the public program of lectures, performances, and exhibitions. The program maintained a continuous dialogue with WHW’s program for the city-owned exhibition space Gallery Nova, its premises, participants, and ideas.
Using the Kontakt Collection as a point of reference for WHW Akademija, the participants were invited to explore works and artists from the collection, and to develop their own work in non-hierarchical dialogue with its holdings, using the collection as a trigger for their artistic explorations.