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artschool uk 2010


habib asal <[log in to unmask]>


habib asal <[log in to unmask]>


Mon, 31 May 2010 16:48:56 +0200





text/plain (1 lines)

Dear All,


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

school education:

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

participating artists? 


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

fields, disciplines, 
public interests and forms of cultural production.



I am

particularly interested in the following questions:


- What

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).

- Could

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. 

- How

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.

- Being

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.

- What

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.

- What

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. 

- Do

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

what way?


I am

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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