Curating and the educational turn

— Paul O’Neill & Mick Wilson (Eds.) (2010)

Curating and the educational turn est un recueil d’essais divers, le pdf ci-dessous en compte cinq qui m’ont semblé plus pertinents que les autres pour nous.

Dave Beech : Weberian lessons: art, pedagogy and managerialism

“What Not to Wear and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy are both examples of popular reality TV programmes where style experts critique a person’s dress sense or etiquette, suggest new approaches — in some cases “tell them what not to wear” — and then watch them applying their new- found knowledge in practice. This coaching model of observation and reflective dialogue is both an effective learning model and a successful entertainment model’. (Broadcasting Act 1990. [ Ukpga_19900042_en_1.htm].)”

“One of the overlooked reasons for the proliferation of education-as-entertainment, though, is that, as a form of address, educational formats place the consumer in a familiar subjective position. Not only are consumers happy to adopt the role of student, learning to cook and shop better or finding out about distant lands and top-drawer cars, but they are also happy to watch others learning something or being put through their paces. This is not simply a matter of some possible warmth being drawn from the nostalgia that we might feel for having been to school or taught things by our parents; I am thinking here more about what Christopher Lasch has called ‘the abdication of authority’.”

“The embedding of education in entertainment, I want to argue, is a contemporary articulation of the rise of the expert in culture. Education- as-entertainment can only cast the consumer or audience as student or spectator of other students within an economy of knowledge and knowledge-acquisition in which others are cast as experts, professionals, insiders and so on. Within the pleasures of education-as-entertainment, of course, the presence of the expert is neither alarming nor remarkable; some people simply know things that the rest of us don’t know. Against the idea that the expert is nothing but the bearer of specialist knowledge, experience and authority, however, we can raise fundamental questions about why we want to devolve truth to experts. Therefore, the social history of expertise explains something hidden and crucial here; the rise of the expert as an unremarkable social presence can be seen as following the pattern of an increasingly rationalised, bureaucratic, managerial and administered society.”

Stewart Martin : An Aesthetic Education Against Aesthetic Education

“The dissolution of traditional, dogmatic or externally imposed authority problematises the idea of education — how can freedom be taught? — orientating it towards autonomy and self-organisation.”

“Art schools are certainly brand names in the market for young artists.”

“An education in autonomy is re-orientated towards that which follows no rules and gives no rules and yet is not antagonistic or chaotic: the beautiful artwork. Autonomy is thought not in terms of self-government or self-ruling, as much as in the suspension of rules. The inculcation or giving of rules, indeed the whole ethos of discipline, is displaced by play. The modern anthropology of autonomy becomes a discourse of play: ‘man only plays when he is in the fullest sense of the word a human being, and he is only fully a human being when he plays’. Homo ludens.”

Anton Vidokle : Exhibition to School: unitednationsplaza

“Public exhibitions of art started at the time of the French Revolution. What actually happened was that the King of France was evicted from his home, the Louvre, and executed along with his Queen. Shortly there-after, a part of the palace, the Salon Carré, was used for the first fully public exhibition of painting and sculpture by contemporary artists.

(…) The audience for this salon show was, in a sense, the first real ‘public’: a group comprised of citizen-subjects who had just violently gained political power and instituted the First Republic. The works in this exhibition did not contain any explicitly politically or socially engaged artworks, but rather traditional paintings of landscapes, nudes, mythological and religious motifs. Yet the actual experience of being able to enter the royal palace to view art was surely ‘political’; it was intimately connected to the revolutionary process taking place at the time. Perhaps attending the exhibition was no different from voting or going to a public hospital or visiting a state ministry for the first time — experienced as an integral part of the new political agency that citizens experienced, which allowed them to truly shape their communities and change them via political means.”

“Inevitably, the programme of unitednationsplaza demanded a lot of time from the audience and, even more importantly, it forced some members of the audience to articulate a position in relation to the project. Reciprocally, it offered all those who attended a stake in the project — a certain kind of ownership of the situation — in that everyone who came along could participate to the degree that they wished. I would argue that this enabled the kind of productive engagement that is still possible if spectatorship is bypassed and the traditional roles of insti- tution/curator/artist/public are encouraged to take on a more hybrid complexity.”

Peio Aguirre : Education With Innovations: Beyond Art-Pedagogical Projects

“There is simply an instrumental deployment of an excuse, or pretext, which enables self-justification for courting public exposure; and this is all done in the name of education.”

“Brecht’s advocacy of rethinking educational spaces is far removed from the reductive formalism frequently encountered in educational art projects, which equate the disordering of the chairs in a classroom or re-arranging them in informal groupings or in small circles with the production of more direct and transparent communication between participants. Any attempt at transforming hierarchies is in vain when structures remain unchanged at higher levels (both in terms of consciousness and aims) — that is, a change in both subject positions and objective forms. There is often a tendency towards circularity in these educational spaces, in which a tautological process keeps a discussion ‘live’ but entails revolving around its own conditions of possibility. Within education, there is always a danger of creating obstacles to transformative critical processes, even where one least expects such obstacles because — despite the flexibilisation of forms, the ‘soft side’ of informality and the pretended absence of prescription — there is always a move to define and delimit the roles, on one or other side of a table, in terms of who speaks and who listens.”

“Barthes conceived of the seminar as a place from which to build a community of listeners, rather than a community of speakers. The recognition that the classroom creates a space in which communities can be created was not new for Barthes, who gleaned the best from Brechtian pedagogical models. For Barthes, however, it is the inevitability of the seminar which shapes the content and not the other way round. He wrote:

Is this a real site or an imaginary one? Neither. An institution is treated in the utopian mode: I outline a space and call it: seminar. It is quite true that the gathering in question is held weekly is Paris, i.e. here and now; but these adverbs are also those of fantasy. Thus, no guarantee of reality, but also nothing gratuitous about the anecdote. One might put things differently: that the (real) seminar is for me the object of a (minor) delirium, and that my relations with this object are, literally, amorous. (Roland Barthes, ‘To the Seminar’. The Rustle of Language. University of California Press. 1989. p.332. )”

“What Barthes advocates is a reorientation of desire in education. He proposed a method of education that goes beyond the demands made by the student upon the teacher, and the impositions produced by the teacher upon the student, to generate a formation of desire that operates across a multiple field. The examples of Brecht and Barthes are key resources to attend to in the consideration of how educational formats within contemporary art could, and should, reflect upon their own forms of self-representation and how pedagogy can be embedded in art practices without the inevitability of merely producing statements ‘about’ education or pedagogy. Paraphrasing Godard’s dictum on cinema and politics — rather than making educational projects, as such, it may be more useful to make projects or exhibitions pedagogically and, in so doing, make visible the border that separates a project or an exhibition from education. Furthermore, the pre-eminence of speech within pedagogical settings should be diminished and, with it, the anxiety as to the profitability of education in terms of information richness or in terms of symbolic art market priorities: instead, we should refocus on the embodiment of experience and encounter.”

Daniel Buren & Wouter Davidts  : Teaching Without Teaching

“WD: But what was there to teach then?

DB: Maybe it’s because we did not want to teach anything. (…) I thought, and I still think, that, especially in teaching young artists, it is better to give them something like an electrical shock. I prefer to go to a place and really take my time, even if it’s only for four days, and work very intensively with the young people who are there. Then you really offer them a lot of things. In the case of the Institut des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques, I was very impressed by the fact that if you have the possibility to invite as many people as possible to sit together for one or several days within the same group, you present them a fantastic thing without saying one word. They can encounter artists that are maybe well known but then appear to be not so different from them. Then they also start to understand that artists are completely at odds with each other. But it’s something you don’t have to explain. They can judge for themselves. So, in very little time, you give some kind of matière première to young people, right like that. I think that when, over a few weeks, some six or seven different artists from different backgrounds come and speak about their work, the students learn much more than they do in the many years that they spend at the academy of beaux-arts.”

“You know, you have to take care with these young artists. They are all different, and they do things that are good or bad. They understand very quickly what a young person cannot yet have. When you are twenty or even a little older, you know everything through the magazines and through your own experiences, but you know strictly nothing about who these people are. But even if you stay close to the people of your own generation, it takes a lot of time to connect with others artists, even with those one generation older, not to mention those who are already considered as ‘old masters’, or who are even forgotten. That is the opportunity we gave these people and it was very intense. It mostly lasted for three or four days a week, we met at least three times during these four days and we invited people as different as Michael Asher, Jean-François Lyotard, Benjamin Buchloh or Jean Nouvel. We really invited a lot of people; first the ones we were interested in, or the ones who were simply passing by in Paris — which allowed us to reduce the expenses — but then we also invited people that were suggested by the students themselves.”

“As you know, in any art school you have a large number of people who will never become artists; they don’t even know why they are there.”

en vrac, citations d’autres essais du recueil :

Irit Rogoff: Turning
“So, to paraphrase Roger Buergel, how can education become more? How can it be more than the site of shrinkage and disappointment?”
“Propelled from within, rather than boxed in from the outside, education becomes the site of odd and unexpected comings together — shared curiosities, shared subjectivities, shared sufferings, shared passions congregate around the promise of a subject, of an insight, of  a creative possibility.”
“At its best, education forms collectivities, many fleeting collectivities which ebb and flow, converge and fall apart. Small, ontological communities are propelled by desire and curiosity, cemented together by the kind of empowerment that comes from intellectual challenge.”

Annie Fletcher & Sarah Pierce  Introduction to The Paraeducation Department
“The experience and exploration of education is, of course, politically loaded, in some cases explicitly so. Here, proposing educational models suggests not only knowledge exchange and development, but also the notion of invested responsibility in, and critical reflection on, the contemporary and the local. Another important political aspect of this work is its communal nature (both formally and informally), which, in turn, calls into question the assumptions of a singular artistic or curatorial authorship and suggests collectivity as an example of empowerment as well as one of exploration.”

Beaver Group :  To Whom the Past No Longer, and Not Yet the Future, Belongs: A Response to a Letter
“There would be no professors and no students. A study or residency programme continuous with life, which could become a theatre group, a filmmaking co-op, an autonomous place of learning, a commune, an infrastructure for developing dissident thought and for inspiring new forms of collective processes. It would become a horizontal space to give one another time, allowing different levels of engagement and involvement, a challenge to capitalist ideology, a revaluation of artistic practice toward an immeasurable horizon of a contestable present.”

David Blamey & Alex Coles:  School of Thought
“Our meetings were often energetic but inconclusive. They lacked resolve. The space to develop arguments more deeply through the writing and editing process was really beneficial. For example, we often produced texts as critical reflections rather than transcripts of what was said.”
“Something that has been important is the implementation of a simple strategy to respect others’ silence and not to misinterpret quiet reflection as non-participation. This was an idea suggested to the group by a teacher colleague, Debbie Cook, based on research she had undertaken into the benefits and effects of structured, cross- disciplinary group learning. Creating a more contemplative space around the conversation-carrier has proven ultimately able to draw out wider critical perspectives from students who have less confidence and therefore, by extension, has delivered more complex results.”