1 Enseigner la création par la création
2 Éduquer par l’art : politique et économie
3 La transition numérique dans le champ de la création
4 Le design dans les écoles supérieures d’art
5 Comment évaluer le processus créatif ?
6 Les écoles supérieures d’art, laboratoires pédagogiques
7 Effets heureux et pervers de la recherche
8 Quelles formes pour le 3e cycle ?
- Retour à l’accueil
6 Les écoles supérieures d’art, laboratoires pédagogiques
Nous avons invité Mai Abu ElDahab, commissaire indépendante, et Corinne Diserens, directrice de l’erg (école de recherche graphique / école supérieure des arts, Bruxelles), pour parler des écoles comme des laboratoires pédagogiques. On essaie en un certain sens de retourner la notion de pédagogie, c’est-à-dire d’observer non pas ce que nous faisons à l’intérieur de nos écoles, mais ce que nos écoles produisent comme outils pédagogiques et comment elles modélisent et exportent cette pédagogie spécifique. Comment nos étudiants, nos artistes, nos acteurs des écoles supérieures d’art et design finissent-ils par construire quelque chose qui est aussi, hors école, une poursuite de la pédagogie ? Comment l’école travaille-t-elle à « l’après école » ? L’après-école ne se structure pas uniquement à partir d’une école. C’est souvent un travail de groupe qui naît entre artistes, critiques, écrivains, théoriciens qui se rencontrent autour de projets qu’ils développent de manière autonome ; ce travail de groupe semble essentiel, non seulement à la structure de l’art, mais aussi à la richesse, à la vitalité et au renouveau de la pédagogie dans les écoles mêmes.
So we will talk in English. Mai Abu ElDahab, who is Egyptian, is a curator who has been working in the Netherlands and lives in Brussels. She has been recently member of the Curatorship committee for the Liverpool Biennial, and she is now working on a new project called Meeting Point, which is a reflection on artists’ pedagogy. Corinne Diserens is also a curator, a museum director and now Director of the erg school in Brussels. Corinne also has a long career in curating practice and in the construction of very particular projects with artists.
I don’t feel very much at ease with certain schools that say they prepare art students for the professional field. This implies a notion for example of how to present your work, how to package your artistic activities. Many schools have certain courses like this. At the erg, we do not really do that, and if it is done, it’s done by the students on their own initiative but it’s not in the curriculum. Then we have to decide together what we are speaking about when it comes to the field of art. Artists have a very strong responsibility to re-invent their conditions. This does not only come from existing structures but also from the actors who decide, consciously or not, to have gestures in a certain historical configuration.
Mai Abu ElDahab
Maybe about ten years ago, I started to be involved with an art project that had to be about art schools. At the time, the project was about how to change a Biennial into an art school. The interest in that was about a critique of what the art world has become and what this kind of scale of exhibition was. It was not a kind of a celebration of an art school but it was bringing back the idea of what is the potential of what happens in an art school. This project did not happen ultimately and since then I have kind of moved away from this. But, what I’ve constantly been concerned with, which is what Corinne was talking about, is the importance of thinking through the conditions in which artists work and how it is the responsibility of both artists and curators and – unfortunately this never happens – of organizations to really think about transforming the working conditions of artists to allow the most potential of reinvention to take place. This has become more and more limited.
For about a year, I have taken on the role of running an organization called Mophradat and one of the things that it does is that it organizes a festival. Again, the word “festival” is a little problematic, so let us call it a series of art events called “meeting points”. It takes place every two years and runs for about a year because it actually takes place in many different cities ; it is like a touring exhibition. This project has been initiated by my organization in Brussels and one that is linked to the Arab world because that’s originally where its work started. So, in a way, through the years it has always kept this relationship and uses the perspective of thinking through art practices from the Arab world, and the conditions of working in the Arab world. You could say that this is a kind of excuse to bring a different perspective to looking at art, challenging existing western perspectives, existing notions of what is the canon, etc. We created a non-institutional context of course, because in the Arab world the institutional landscape is pretty, let’s say, poor, and there are a lot of problems with the conditions for working with art. Therefore, this kind of mess makes it possible to think about very basic questions like : what’s an ideal situation for thinking about art ? Where would we like to see art ? How can art happen ? These kinds of questions seem very basic, but are very difficult to ask in a more developed artistic context like Europe for example, where challenging the basic structures of an art field is difficult to do.
From there, this project is an invitation to a curator to invent a structure for an art event based on their interest and their ideas. It does not respond to certain institutions or a framework, it can collaborate with whatever organizations, it can take any form. It is now in its 8th edition and for the last three it has been a large international curated event that has travelled from Brussels to Hong Kong, Beirut, Vienna and various other places. I have just come out of this experience of working for a large scale Biennial in the U.K., the Liverpool Biennial, dealing directly with the conditions imposed by institutions, by funding bodies, by ideas of city branding and all of these things, and realizing how difficult it was to being really able to forward ideas or give the opportunities to artists to do interesting things, or really think about context. Coming from that, I started to figure out how we can work in a way that can enable us to bring people together, artists together, in a situation of shared enthusiasm where what can govern what we do and how we do it is our investment in ideas and our excitement about those ideas.
I have invited four curators to develop this project, and we were accommodated in two art academies : The Royal Art Academy in Oslo and the Städelschule in Frankfurt, where we had a site over a period of a year where we could develop the thinking of the project. We had access to their facilities, to their students, we could organize residencies, conferences and experiment with the formats of the events that we wanted to do. The idea is that within the structure of a school, a different kind of engagement was possible, different from that could take place in a more commercialized art world, a more restricted art world. The art schools make it possible for us to work in a very different way than outside where supply and demand, rigid ideas of production deadlines, prescribed formulas of what an art event should be, are quite strict. The potential for us to work and invent things, also with the students and with the faculty, is what we are excited about, and this is something that we are planning over the next year. In a sense, we think about them as tools that are kind of inherent in the logic of an art school, that can enable us to work in a way that is much more open, flexible and exciting.
Thinking about what Mai is explaining and about the original proposal that Bernhard mentioned brings me to the space of the institution and non-institutional structural space. How do we accept ? How do we think ? How do we transform the structural and institutional environment ? As a person of a certain age and of a certain generation, I believe in the public sphere, and I decided not to abandon my activities in the public sphere as my own engagement towards the world that I live in.
This question of necessities interests me in relation to artistic procedure. Maybe some of you have seen the exhibition of Dieter Roth I did in Marseille. Dieter came to Marseille to stay and live there for a few months, but there were more and more people joining him. At the start, he came with three people and finished with twenty-five or thirty people working on putting this show up. I choose this example because I can use it to share something that may be important. It is thinking about how the economy of a project is totally part of the discussion when you discuss a project with an artist. Where does the money go ? This is a very political question. Does it go to an insurance company ? Does it go to an art transport company ? Does it go to students when they work in museums in order for them to be paid normally ? When you are working with and discussing with an artist, what are the bottom line decisions about how a project, an exhibition or the production of a new work activate or refuse to enter certain parameters, which seems to be very systematic in a museum ? You will never be attacked or disturbed by a technocrat if you give a large amount of money to an insurance company. That is the norm. A museum is supposed to insure high value art works. You will never be questioned on these things. Artists however, can question that. They have the position to do it. Why do not we decide not to give so much money to insurance companies to better pay people, artists in particular ? I don’t know, it’s part of an economy of the project. So that’s another way in which I am trying to be pragmatic and trying to think about the structuring of what we take for granted.
Mai Abu ElDahab
I think there is a concern about the idea of a shrinking public space, and that space being a space where art can play an interesting role. It is kind of funny that we also share an interest in thinking about how deeply political all of the very specific decisions that are made about the conditions in which we work are. Corinne ends up running an art school and I am trying to organize a project where we can hide, in a sense, in an art school. In a way, the proposition is about how can we contain an art school as a potential for a public space, where other spaces are really not available any more.
I don’t think that it’s by chance that some people, like me, have moved into working in art schools today. I can think of different people, Ute Meta Bauer and many others, Philippe Pirotte in Frankfurt. Evidently, the question of transmission, production, reception is essential, and art schools are really a place about those questions.
One of the things that seems interesting to me is that we often don’t think ourselves, in the schools, about how our structure is open. We are replacing the financial and administrative violence – it is the term you used yesterday Corinne – ourselves in our schools. I personally think that our production as an artist, as a teacher and as a student, is the center of an art school. You speak about the facilities, Mai, that you find in an art school. This depends from how the school is thinking about itself. We have in France 46 higher schools of art with really good working conditions. We do not think enough about how what happens after the school is an important part of what we do in schools, because we are mainly concentrated on the structure of the school, not on what it produces.
Mai Abu ElDahab
I think what you’re saying is really important because it feels to me at least, that fifteen years ago everybody started to use this really ugly word, “professionalization”, excessively. It is very clear in the curatorial field and in art schools, this kind of transformation into more professionalized spaces. We need to train ourselves to fit into a field. I think this is dramatically scary. Maybe change happens slowly, but in fact, art schools are under attack. That space is not secure anymore. In the U.K., for example, they are excited about this ugly American model. In the Netherlands, they are trying to shrink the possibilities of what can happen in schools. How are you going to protect this space ? The political reality in France is very scary, so again it’s a really important in this moment to think about this and reassert this kind of potential of a school.
That has a lot to do with what was mentioned yesterday at one point. This danger also comes from the standardization of lots of structures of education and higher education that in the end has to do with a very precise way of thinking about financing higher education. The bottom line is about what is being developed as an application today of thinking a system of higher education in order to change its way of financing.
Eimer Birkbeck [artiste, professeur à l’École européenne supérieure d’art de Bretagne, précédemment professeur à la School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University, et à la School of Art, Design and Performance, University of Central Lancashire, Preston]
Because I taught in Britain before and now I’m teaching in France, I am interested in this idea of the school as a subversive space where students can learn tactics they might be able to use if they’re in contact or working with institutions after the school. In reflection to what Corinne was talking about in terms of the institutions, how we can manipulate them in order to create worthwhile projects where people are equally paid, etc. In England, where the students pay £9,000 a year to be in an art school, how can that school be a subversive space ? For me in France the fees are so little in comparison. That accessibility of students to the school is so precious and maybe it is underestimated here because there is not that market instinct in the school. For example, the students perhaps don’t even conceive of the idea of a debt of £ 50,000 here. So I just wanted to say that there needs to be that dialogue, that discussion about how different the art schools are across these countries and how that affects the institutions afterwards, the galleries, etc. It is not really a question, rather sharing my experience. What is precious about France is that the fees have not gone up.
 Mophradat aisbl is a Belgian association created in 2004 as the Young Arab Theatre Fund (YATF) that produces opportunities for thinking, producing and sharing among contemporary artists from the Arab world and their peers everywhere.