Thanks to Verina for
inviting me to take part in this discussion and to contribute some thoughts as
an artist on this month's theme. At the same time I apologize that my
contribution comes rather late. Unfortunately I couldn’t follow up as my daughter
was born on 12th May. Since then I have been busy being a father. Verina
asked me to say something about the artschool uk project, being an alternative
form of learning in relation to traditional art education.
In the open call to apply to the project, artschool uk
stated that historicaly 2006 saw a marked intensification of interest in the
present and future condition of art teaching, art school and art education
refering to events such as Manifesta 6, Notes
for an art school / Shedhalle Zurich, Jump
into Cold Water / Royal Festival Hall London, Are art schools in crisis? / Zentrum Paul Klee Bern,
Sommerakademie, Internal Necessity /
et cetera). These events were not unknown to me and as having always been
interested in art education I decided to apply to artschool uk, since it
definitely would be a great experience to take part in an environment of
teaching and learning beyond traditional art education. The call imparted a
certain idea of what would or could expect me but at the same time I had no concrete
image of what the workshop in
London would finally turn out to be. That is why the impulsion was to
experience such an encounter (organizers, contributors and participants) -
exactly not in an academic art school frame and which also meant a certain experimental
endeavour to the organizers. However, the essential reasons to take part in the
project primarily were based up on not to only reflecting and theorizing about
the need of educational turns but to actively contribute – even by producing
artistic work – to a given environment such as the artschool uk where artists,
curators, critics, tutors, students, designers, galleries, culturally engaged
people and so fort would meet and accomplish individual contributions to the
theme during the process focussing on the production of knowledge.
Two years ago I graduated in Fine Arts from the Zurich
University of the Arts (ZHdK). During my studies I also spent some time at the Academy
of Fine Arts in Vienna. I am therefore familiar with two different artschool
systems on an academical level. And thanks to my recent participation in
artschool uk London, where I experienced a different environment of teaching
and learning within the context of art education, my perception regarding
systems of art schools has broadened.
Some thoughts and points on traditional academic art
In 2005 the Zurich University of the Arts began
implementing the Bologna reform (BA and MA courses, European Credit Transfer
System ECTS, Modules) for studies in the Arts. This implicated more theory
courses and other compulsory modules and shifted the focus from making art to
collecting ECTS points. This impact affected us students directly and led to
thoughts like Is this what art education
is about now or Studio art education converts
more and more to theorization. No matter how much you were against it or
even fought it, Bologna became a fact and its attributes started having a
certain significance in art education which definitely affected our status as
art students. Success and/or failure therefore depended more and more on how
students oriented themselves in this system, whereas this is not to be
generalized, as our art professors and tutors were aware of art practice being
the core area of academical art education.
Some criteria regarding art school education:
Admission and subordination to an institution,
co-determination regarding matters of education, the hierarchical structures,
the time frame of education, the compliance of all required credits (passing
exams and seminar papers, essay writing, giving presentations and producing art
works), a certain status in the so called art world thanks to art school
education and BA/MA degree, which might establish an art career, the
educational mission vis-à-vis students, the public, government, etc. etc.
Chances are that there are art schools/art academies
claiming “the discourse” to be a key feature in art education. However I would
point out that most traditional art schools still consider the individual artistic work of
students (studio work) to be the essence of art school education. Correct me if I am wrong!
In relation to my above made points regarding art
education I would like to place some questions into our discussion: Would the
implementation of alternative forms of teaching at art academies bring about an
educational turn within the existing structures/within existing institutions?
Would such concepts undermine established (traditional) academic systems? Would
it make sense to site them at art academies and if so, what could the launch of
alternative educational forms implicate?
In regard to the idea and concept of alternative forms
I am concerned with the following thoughts: Are these projects/workshops to be
considered as advanced training or further/continuing education for artists?
Are they considered to be institutionalized projects and if not, is there a
tendency to institutionalisation or can such be avoided? Is there an (teaching)
assignment to be conformed vis-à-vis a supportive system/institution? If so,
can these projects be held accountable by the supporters and in what way? How
are the hierarchical structures distributed? The question of autonomy within (organisers,
contributors and participants) and beyond the project? Should the encounter of
the different authors merely generate a discursive character (knowledge based
on discourse=art production?) or also/only generate (visual) art works by the
Again I would like to refer to artschool uk ‘s open
call and to subsequently make some personal notes (of course they do not relate
solely to artschool uk but to further alternative forms of education or to the
subject of the educational turn).
its core, artschool uk is about exchanging ideas with others and
approaches art teaching
learning as working best when it focuses on creating an environment where, as
Jon Thompson says, ‘absolutely vital moves can be made by young artists’, an
environment in which they can relate to and share ideas with one another.
is made possible through
Removing teaching and learning from the burden and constraints
over-administered and over-subscribed art departments and institutions.
Placing teachers and participants within an open, discursive public space.
Exploring where teaching and learning intersect and overlap with different
public interests and forms of cultural production.
particularly interested in the following questions:
is it that attracts artists to apply, what is their motivation and why is there
a need/necessity to participate? Based on the open call I had a certain idea,
but not a concrete picture in mind, what to expect from the workshop. A main
motive for me to apply was to have the possibility to meet interesting and
well-known contributors and to exchange thoughts. Further I was looking forward
to the workshop process and exchange with other participating artists from all
over the world.
- Is it
a specific type of artist (or are there similarities in the art works) who applied for the workshop? What is the artistic background (bio, exhibition,
etc.) of the artist and his/her postitioning in art or in the art market? Does the participation
have an impact or significance on/for an artist’s CV? I noticed that the
participants had different educational backgrounds (BA’s, MA’s, PHD’s,
Rijksacademy and autodidacts).
the aspects of the open call be implicated in the workshop? I noticed that some
participants questioned what the workshop was about? Perhaps a conclusion of
the contents could not be grasped in the end and can only be done retrospectively.
important are the individual artworks of the participants? Are they being
integrated or is the workshop mainly about intellectual exchange between
participants with different cultural and educational backgrounds in order to
generate further knowledge? I had the impression that some artists were unhappy
about the fact that the own artworks played a minor role and that the group - as
an autonomous community - couldn’t really produce practical works. Well, for
that, 3 weeks are rather short and we actually had a full scheduled programme. Again
I think it is interesting to what extent participants want to devote to the
given conditions and to what extent they are not willing to accept these and
rather come up with own contributions. I wonder if this can be the case when
workshop parameters are already given or set? I also had the impression that
the invited contributors and their work stood in the centre.
embedded in this workshop also meant not to be able to produce own art works.
To my notice this was kind of problematic/frustrating to some artists but at
the same time not to forget the privilege of being part of such a project.
remains for the artists and what contribution do the project contents and the
coincidence of all involved persons accomplish in terms of development of
alternative educational models? I wonder if such workshops are short-lived, in
vogue, zeitgeisty and have a tendency to disappear.
about artschool uk’s Phase 2 taking place in October? Is it possible that 20
participants and 3 organisers come to a conclusion regarding an output –
bearing in mind that many artists aren’t based in London? This has been
discussed in the workshop but did not lead to a common solution.
these projects (educational turn, alternative forms of education in art) impart
knowledge? If yes, how is the obtained knowledge to be placed in the context of
these discourses leading to a broad reception. How do the substantial contents
reach the channel of distribution? Isn’t there a risk of subtle
institutionalisation, which could result in again seeking for further and new
alternative models regarding the educational turn?
- Does the
knowledge obtained in such temporarily conglomerated micro communities have a
sustainable impact in general and specifically in art production? Do networks,
further projects or co-operations result between participants and contributors
or involved contributing institutions? Does the exchange continue and if so, in
very contented having participated in artschool uk 2010. Even though it is
difficult to bring to the point, what knowledge really has been obtained during
and after the workshop. I am looking forward to Phase 2 and very curious about
what is going to happen during our meeting in October and what will result
and best wishes,
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