Teaching Art in the Neoliberal Realm, Realism versus Cynism (P. Gielen & P. De Bruyne, eds.), 2012


"Teaching Art in the Neoliberal Realm, Realism versus Cynism is a collection of essays and one interview, divided up into three parts. The first, 'Neoliberalism and the Loss of School' offers a critical analysis of the effects of neoliberalism on art education [...] The second part, 'Dealing with the Past, Opportunities of the Present', illustrates that we should'nt romanticize the history of art academy [...] Finally, the third part, 'Teaching Art and the Essence of the Quest', focuses on effective escape routes." [...] The undercurrent is already there. Disobedience is possible, desirable, and pleasant - and it is a very effective pedagogical tool."
P. Gielen & P. De Bruyne, Introduction. The Catering Regime.

"This 'dismeasure' of art, however, runs contrary to the aforementioned need for calculation and control. In short, the welding together of theory and practice to an excellent artistic praxis relies on intimacy, informality and dismeasure. The current (re)organization of educational space with its obsession with measure, on other hand, tends more towards formality and calculable art."
P. Gielen, Artistic Praxis and the Neo-liberalization of the Educational Space.

"R.S [Richard Sennett] : Actors that support each other are evaluated positively. With music it's nothing but that. There aren't arcane judgments. And not in the sciences either. If you set up a scientific laboratory and somebody doesn't want to contribute to it, that's a judgment on their value. Once we get into the kind of regime you're talking about, neoliberalism prevails. And then all this stuff goes missing, the teachers are suspected of being subjective. Capitalists hate subjectivity. They seem never to have heard of Comte's famous dictum that judgment is a matter of experience rather than counting. It's just something to resist. I'll tell you what's happening in Britain. The more these kind of capitalist-minded regulators of school have taken over, the more people, when they really want their kids to learn something, are doing it outside the framework of the school itself. We're seeing it in arts education, we're seeing it in science and math education for young people. The ways of educating people in schools are so rigid that many parents have figured out that this is not practical. It tends towards this mediocre mean of multiple choice tests and so on. There's a huge industry of afterschool teaching in London, and maybe you'll see it that happening in the Netherlands as well." 
P. Gielen, B. van Heusden, A Plea for Communalist Teaching, An Interview with Richard Sennett.

"The teachers don't know what they are looking for either. They too enter partly unchartered territory [...]
The impossibility of a dialogue between artistic teachers and administrators has resulted in the appointment of a growing number of mediators over the past few decades. This is the deeper cause of the growth of middle administration and the total bureaucratization of the drama school [...]
Students want the very opposite of what managers and market-oriented education have to offer. They want danger, discomfort, trauma, grime, spirituality, intuitive surrender, and all that. In short, students want the master. Though it may be on a very unconscious level, they think of master-apprentice relationships, of intense work in rehearsal rooms, of exploratory behaviour, of artistic and art educational innovations that are rooted in a centuries-old tradition, of meaningful encounters with teachers."
P. De Bruyne, Students, Teachers and their Managers in the Drama School.

"What the school does is that it suspends what is appropriate and appropriated and includes a profanation of what is perceived sacred, that is, regarded to be accessible to or owned by a cultural or economic elite. The school form thus offers the radical, even potentially revolutionary opportunity to renew the world. What the school form makes present belongs to everyone and no one in particular, it is some-thing common, and for that reason the school has a communist dimension. 'Communist' is used here not in reference to a political doctrine. On the contrary, one could argue that communism is a political attempt to recuperate the school and to institutionalize it socially - at a high price [...]
Or take the example of hacking. Shouldn't we look at hacking, as far as it seeks to make the grammar of the internet public, as a school example? Maybe there are new school forms today, but if there are, they are outside the field of education and learning as we know it."
Maarten Simons & Jan Masschelein, School - A Matter of Form.

"Art academies ought to be places where the function of artistic production is discussed within the framework of wider cultural developments. In this debate, the academies must ask themselves which values they regard as central, while they cannot escape from extensively paying attention to the growing influence and significance of the art market, the entertainment industry, and popular culture. A critical reflection on these phenomena should be part of the curriculum - not to haughtily dismiss them, but to understand their mechanisms and attraction."
Bert Taken & Jeroen Boomgaard, Between Romantic and Avant-Gardist Adaptation.

"The most significant changes have taken place at the Poznan Academy of Fine Arts, which in 2010 was renamed the Poznan University of Arts. The reason for the name change was pretty straightforward: an 'academy' ranks lowest in the hierarchy of graduate schools, whereas the Poznan school has 102 full professors and grants doctoral titles in six disciplines, thus meeting all criteria for being officially recognised as a 'university'. One of the startling aspect of this situation is that the Polish Sejm (parliament), when evaluating the proposed name change, studied his potential impact on the area of 'economic competitiveness and business activity, including the functioning of companies'. The parliamentary experts concluded that these areas would not be significantly affected by the name change, which, in the context of the recommendations for artistic education drawn up by the Congress of Culture and a general trend towards analysing all creative disciplines in market termes, sounds slightly out of place [...]
The Poznan University of Arts is an example of the neoliberal principle at work in the culture sector."
Daniel Muzyczuk, Chain Reactions, Stepping Backwards or Escaping Forward?

"For Derrida as a philosopher it was inconceivable to write a philosophical thesis without ever asking the philosophical question 'what is writing?' For Derrida, the project of writing a doctor's thesis led him to an impressive intellectual struggle with the question of writing. Derrida strongly resisted traditional academic standards and expectations concerning writing. Only in 1980, at the age of 50, did Jacques Derrida obtain the so-called Doctorat d'Etat, a special type of doctorat that until 1985 existed in France and was awarded not on the basis of a conventional doctoral thesis, but on the basis of one's.... 'work'. Indeed, for his Doctorat d'Etat, Derrida presented and defended - in a long oral examination by a jury - three books, which all deal with the question of writing in one way or another. In a sense, one can say that Derrida's doctorate merely consisted of a philosophical portfolio, without an academic supplement. One of the main reasons for this is that Derrida simply could'nt accept that a traditional doctorate in philosophy would not reflect a fundamental thinking on the question of writing on the way it was written [...]
The idea that an artistic portfolio should be supplemented with a text in order to obtain a meaning which can be discussed inter-subjectively misses the point that the artistic porfolio itself is always already text. This is the consequence of the famous Derridian dictum that says 'il n'y a pas de hors-texte', there is no outside to text."
Dieter Lesage, Art, Research, Entertainment.

"After all, combining the words 'art' and 'education' is a bit like comparing apples and oranges. Deliberations in art education are perhaps the most painful ones in the entire field of education [...] The fact that the question about the nature of art cannot be answered not only has philosophical implications, but very practical ones as well. Anyone who has ever attending a symposium about art education can testufy to the confusion of tongues at such gatherings. Speakers continuously speak of 'art', but never specify which art they mean [...] It is obvious : everyone who speaks about artists always refers to the type of artists they themselves teach and are familiar with, and then simply extrapolate their view to the entire field. Hence the Babel like confusion and the horrendous futility of most symposium about art [...]
It is not art that is faced with a major challenge in the light of education. It is the educational bureaucracy that is faced with a major challenge in the light of art."
Stefan Hertsmans, Masters of Unpredictability, Academies ans Art Education.

"Like every general human capacity, knowing actually includes its negation, so not-knowing. The full affirmation of this potential therefore implies moments of impotentiality, or the realization of the ability to know through its un-realization. An important ethical lesson is implied, as Giogio Agamben rightly stresses:
To be free is not simply to have the power to do this or that thing, nor it is simply to have 
the power to refuse to do  this or that thing. To be free is, in the sense we have seen, 
to be capable of one's own impotentiality, to be in relation to one's own privation.
[...] Not only the on-going discussion on the nature of the Ph.D. in the Arts but also in a more general way, art academies can indeed act as critical supplements to higher education that demonstrate - rather than teach - university based education and research that the act of knowing reaches its apex in the capacity to raise questions bordering on the limit of not-knowing."
Rudi Laermans, Disciplining Thought vs. Nimble Thinking, Possible Stakes of Teaching Theory.

"True to my non-method for teaching theory, I read out short passages from original texts that had helped me to configure a semantic field for my idea, a "fuzzy set' of meanings presenting a multi-dimensional mental image rather than a concise verbal definition. The most important of these sources are Gilles Deleuze's elusive notion of the noosign or 'thinking image', Jacques Rancière's no less ambiguous parsing of the 'pensive image' and, above all, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin overtly speculative but more accessible description of the noosphere, a 'sphere of thought' postulated in analogy with the biosphere or 'sphere of life'. I find all of them very relevant for thinking about curating and, in the context of this essay, for thinking about teaching."
Anders Kreuger, Thinking about Thinking Together.

"Many other forms of performative knowledge could be cited as examples, such as the temporary establishment of the Saint-Petersburg Street University in 2008, immediately following the closure of the European University due to a supposed violation of security regulations. The Street University is organized by unemployed European University academics, by the same school's students and by the Russian artistic collective Chto Delat/What is to be done? who decided to go into the streets to hold their lessons. They are all united by the desire to define an alternative field of production and distribution of critical knowledge. Also, given the insurrectional character of the circumstances, they have retrieved the street debat and theatrical protest action as forms of learning and cognitive production.  In this case, yet again - as in the preceding cases or as in the case of the didactic interventions on the part of the Brazilian group Contrafilè - we find a situational production of knowledge that derives from the concrete nature of situations and in a self-organizing form in which person is simultaneous student, teacher, and administrator. Thus, just as there are no assigned roles, neither there are any specified spaces or privileged moments for this type of performative knowledge."
Marco Scotini, The Disobedient Class, Bottom-up Academies and Affirmative Education.

"The third pair of extremes seems to be the most important on in the context of this essay: that of quality madness. Quality is about a certain amount of 'knowing what you are doing' and 'thinking before you act' in order to try and construct something more or less stable or durable. This structure however needs to leave room for creativity that can suddenly and unexpectedly arise. That is what the madness stands for: it is instinctive and/or intuitive, but also very powerful: it is about going beyond what is already thought or done and is therefore unpredictable. In their book, Bjiöfors and Blakfors Lind claim that for them, 'it is not possible to achieve quality without  room for madness.' [...]
Of all the Cirkör core values, it is quality madness that fascinates me most: especially in the context of this book. It is because I think any dogma, neoliberal or otherwise, suffers from some type of quality fetish: it is about believing that the way of doing things becomes the only way of doing things, in any situation. This leads to closing off the mind's ability to conceive of alternative possibilities. Art, which, maybe always, needs a considerable dose of madness, is about disrupting this way of approaching the world, about reminding you that you think you know is not necessary the whole truth."
Tessa Overbeek, Extremes Embodied, Contemporary Circus and Education in Sweden.

"Though it may sound obvious that an art school concerns itself with art, I can assure you this is no easy task in the current political and economic context. This book is helpful in clearly defining a number of problems by laying out some of the 'diversions' from this crucial focus. The catering regime, and the underlying neoliberalism as described in this book, is one development that can lead art education, and in fact all good education, astray."
Rien van der Vleuten, Afterword.

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