May 31: ART-KNOWLEDGE #4
Arts & Education: New Sites and Concepts for Radical Pedagogies in the Arts
ARIAS & KNAW
What’s next in art and education? How are contemporary arts engaging in education, and how do practitioners from art and education respond to the issues of today? The final evening of the Art Knowledge series aimed to answer these questions, with the contributions of Jurgen Bey, Josien Pieterse & Amal Alhaag, Jorge Lucero and René Boer.
Moderated by Marijke Hoogenboom, the evening began with Sandberg Instituut’s Jurgen Bey, who began by talking about our relationship with education. Situating education and knowledge at the heart of our journeys of discovery, development and decision-making, Bey proceeded to question how we need to decide on what is necessary and what is not. Stressing that technologies such as VR and AR have changed our “reach” in terms of knowledge, Bey spoke of how we now explain our so-called reality through culture. By situating ourselves “a minute” away from our reality, as in the example of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, Bey suggested that taking such a stance could improve our perspective. Jurgen Bey continued to set the stage for the following speakers by talking about the “humility” that comes with being a student, whereas he himself was of the opinion that the culmination of each individual in such an environment actually formed a large system, one that has the potential to have an impact on the city and the structures to which it belongs. We should be much more aware of the fact that students make up an large number of the Amsterdam population and that changing students’ ways of housing and studying can bring radical change to the city of Amsterdam. Bey concluded his introduction by stressing that education should be seen as more than something that is “given”, but something that we need to “act on”.
Josien Pieterse and Amal Alhaag were next to take the stage, with Pieterse beginning to outline the details of their concrete proposal for education, focusing on a “public” master’s programme that offers collective learning opportunities. Alhaag continued by emphasizing the fact that the difference between Western and non-Western art has outlived itself, where the line between who is represented, who makes decisions and whose issues are discussed is increasingly blurred. By focusing on identifying ideal practices, Alhaag and Pieterse reported that they focused on four issues, namely canonizing art, rewriting history, local contact points and local cultures. Alhaag also expanded on the practices adopted at Framer Framed, where they feature works that each disclose a story and question in themselves. By featuring a variety of voices, topics, domains and perspective, Framer Framed emerges as a social domain, where it is possible to learn openly and think together. Following up on this idea with the Side Room initiative, Alhaag explained that it aims to think outside of institutional critiques and encourages learning differently, intersectionally and in a communal, playful way that enables skill sharing.
Following Alhaag and Pieterse was artist and educator Jorge Lucero, who began with an account of how he began teaching and expanded upon the importance of being “playful” within institutional contexts, as well as developing the ability to be institutionally literate. By being institutionally literate, he explained, it would be possible to read what is happening, what types of mechanisms, power dynamics, and pedagogical strategies are at play within an institution. Lucero followed up on his conceptual explanations with concrete examples from his work, namely “Folding Collages”, wherein he folds certain images from magazines and scans them, creating what he terms “descaled, playful work(s)”, as well as Slow Instagram (where he screenshots low-resolution images from loading Instagram pictures), and his in-class practice, “Teach Anything”, where his students are urged to teach something they have expertise in, from the Heimlich Maneuver to stargazing.
The last contribution of the evening was by René Boer, who spoke about his work on embedded educational experiments, with the Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS) at its core. A discussion based, shared learning environment that is set in a caravansarai in Cairo, CILAS was part of the booming number of art centers and political collectives that emerged after the Egyptian revolution. Providing an overview of the institute’s background in inception in Cairo, Boer spoke of how it works towards re-imagining higher education and returning to the city. Boer continued expanding on the current status of CILAS and then introduced his Zeeburgereiland project, which serves as an arts and education space with a master’s programme of its own.