20170423

Listened to fffff.at/rip podcast. Surveillance state is upon us.

My talk for Hollo institute Utopia-seminar went reasonably well. I had some trouble framing the end of the talk.. I attempted to announce horselogical-pedagogy and engage in an open ended discussion but being surrounded by professors and emeritus professors the announcement came of as a joke. People laughed as I presented Adjunct Professor The Awaited Son. I laughed with them out of pity and tightened my fists. 

“So.. All of you are ok with horses taking your jobs?” I asked as people chuckled.

Currently in Oslo on route to Tromsø on a Trans-Horse affair. I’ll meet a horse today at 15:00 and perfom with it tomorrow at 10:00. The festival is called Vårscenefest. I’ll have a day for seeing the city before I return to continue work on Trans-Horse events for Sea Change by Otto Karvonen. In Vuosaari I’ll be handling horses with Susanna Airaksinen. I’ll have to travel to Brussels late May to meet with the Signal organization staff and the cities mounted police force. In June we’ll host a sound-art exhibition at Akustamata in Helsinki.

Visited Kontula Electronic and had a brief encounter with Martta Tuomaala. I didn’t get to talk about her “bodybuilding” project. She seemed to be stressed about the show. Also saw a children’s techno workshop.. It wasn’t as techno as expected. Kids triggered grooves from a launch pad, which kept the event noise free. Pop songs and kid’s toons were also played periodically. Children were dancing. I’ve been invited to host a children’s techno-workshop for NPTurku in the fall.

20170412

Met with Maria Oiva for an interview concerning her Digi-artist venture. She is going to blog about the discussion.

Learning about Tania Brugueras’ “Useful Art” concept from Claire Bishops’ book Artificial Hells (2012). “Useful Art” feels fitting to Trans-Horse activities (even better than “Maintenance Art”). The chapter “Conclusion” (pg. 275) is really good to read. I don’t agree with her critique of participatory art.. Art/Education/Activism is not about my relationship to the Other but about Our relationship with the world (the horse). There is more in the world then masters and slaves, there is also the world. The text is filled with useful quotes such as: “Critical pedagogy retains authority, but not authoritarianism”.

The first, and perhaps longest running, pedagogic project of the 2000s was Cátedra Arte de Conducta (2002–9): an art school conceived as a work of art by Cuban artist Tania Bruguera (b.1968). Based at her home in Havana Vieja and run with the help of two staff, it was dedicated to providing a training in political and contextual art for art students in Cuba. […] she wished to make a concrete contribution to the art scene in Cuba, partly in response to its lack of institutional facilities and exhibition infrastructure, and partly in response to ongoing state restrictions on Cuban citizens’ travel and access to information.

Strictly speaking, Arte de Conducta is best understood as a two-year course rather than as an art school proper: it was a semi-autonomous module under the auspices of the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana. Students didn’t get credits for attending it, but the institutional affiliation was necessary in order for Bruguera to secure visas for visiting lecturers.

The school, like many of the student projects it produced, can be described as a variation on what Bruguera has designated as ‘useful art’ (arte util) – in other words, art that is both symbolic and useful, refuting the traditional Western assumption that art is useless or without function. This concept allows us to view Arte de Conducta as inscribed within an ongoing practice that straddles the domains of art and social utility.

Freire maintains that hierarchy can never be entirely erased: ‘Dialogue does not exist in a political vacuum. It is not a “free space” where you say what you want. Dialogue takes place inside some programme and content. These conditioning factors create tension in achieving goals that we set for dialogic education.’ In other words, critical pedagogy retains authority, but not authoritarianism: ‘Dialogue means a permanent tension between authority and liberty. But, in this tension, authority continues to be because it has authority vis- à-vis permitting student freedoms which emerge, which grow and mature precisely because authority and freedom learn self-discipline.’

[…] a single artist (teacher) allows the viewer (student) freedom within a newly self-disciplined form of authority.

Pedagogic art projects therefore foreground and crystallise one of the most central problems of all artistic practice in the social field: they require us to examine our assumptions about both fields of operation, and to ponder the productive overlaps and incompatibilities that might arise from their experimental conjunction, with the consequence of perpetually reinventing both.

[Rancière] argues that in art, theatre and education alike, there needs to be a mediating object that stands between the idea of the artist and the feeling and interpretation of the spectator: ‘This spectacle is a third term, to which the other two can refer, but which prevents any kind of “equal” or “undis- torted” transmission. It is a mediation between them, and that mediation of a third term is crucial in the process of intellectual emancipation. […] The same thing that links them must also separate them.’ In different ways, these philosophers offer alternative frameworks for thinking the artistic and the social simultaneously; for both, art and the social are not to be reconciled, but sustained in continual tension.

We need to recognise art as a form of experimental activity overlapping with the world, whose negativity may lend support towards a political project (without bearing the sole responsibility for devising and implementing it), and – more radically – we need to support the progressive transformation of existing institutions through the transversal encroachment of ideas whose boldness is related to (and at times greater than) that of artistic imagination.

Send a job application to the National Gallery (in Finnish). In short I propose Kettlebell training sessions next to the collections of national art:

“Haluan ohjata Ateneumin suomalaisen taiteen kokoelmanäyttelyn yhteydessä kahvakuulajumppaa. Tämä ei ole vitsi. Harjoittelun myötä opitaan liikkeiden perusteita (turkkilainen maastanousu, yhden käden tempaisu) ja saadaan fyysisen toiminnan kautta ainutlaatuinen ote taiteeseen. Intensiivisen jumpan ohessa katsomme valikoituja teoksia, keskustelemme niistä ja kuulemme teoksiin liittyviä puheenvuoroja. Olen tehnyt kahvakuulan kanssa taide-esityksiä vuodenpäivät ja käyttänyt sitä myös taideopetuksen työkaluna (Maa-taidekoulu 2016, Kankaanpään taidekoulu 2017). Intesiivinen fyysinen harjoittelu avaa taidetta eri tavalla kuin passiivinen käyskentely. Minulla on alustavia suunnitelmia kuinka työskentely kannattaa toteuttaa. Toimintaa olisi johdonmukaista käynnistää esimerkiksi työn-teemoihin liittyvien näyttelyiden yhteydessä. Toimintaan on myös referenssejä maailmalta (mm. Metropolitan Museum of Art on järjestänyt liikunnallisia taide-esittelykierroksia). Tässä ehdotuksessa on kuitenkin kyse syvällisemmästä yrityksestä hahmottaa taideteoksia, kehoa ja museota.”

20170411

Benjamin Buchloh slaps Joseph Beuys on the face in Twilight of the Idol (1980). He points out that:

[…] German fascism and the war resulting from it, destroying and annihilating cultural memory and continuity for almost two decades and causing a rupture in history that left mental blocks and blanks and severe psychic scars on everybody living on this period and the generations following it. Beuys’ individual myth is an attempt to come to terms with those blocks and scars. When he quotes the Tartars as saying ‘Du nix njemcky (You are not German).’ they would say ‘du Tartar, and try to persuade me to join their clan…’ it is fairly evident that the myth is trying to deny his participation in the German war and his citizenship.

In the work and public myth of Beuys the new German spirit of the postwar period finds its new identity by pardoning and reconciling itself prematurely with its own reminiscences of a responsibility for one of the most cruel and devastating forms of collective political madness that history has known.

[…] his compulsive interest in accumulating and combining quantities of rejected, dusty old objects the kind that one finds in rural cellars and stables, are imbued with metaphysical meaning by the artist and his eager exegetes: they could just as easily be read in psychoanalytic terms, and perhaps more convincingly so.

His work does not initiate cognitive changes, but reaffirms a conservative position of literary belief systems.

I think that the extensive rituals of guild German artist and politicians express over WWII is actually a way to advance Catholic beliefs, world views and control. When Merkel gave the German flag away she managed to both express nationalistic values and to conceal nationalistic ambitions responsible for Germany’s economic growth. German guild is tactical – They get emotional before their practice can be criticized. It’s a way of hiding the facts. This same critique was present in Frimer’s Documenta’s Reinvention text mentioned earlier in relation to poststructuralist art. Perhaps postructuralism became popularized as a method to hide the political causalities of the expansion of capitalism.

A fantastic library of Finnish Zine publications: Oranssin pienlehtiarkisto 1977-1982.

Claire Bishop on The Social Turn Collaboration and its Discontents (2006):

The discursive criteria of socially engaged art are, at present, drawn from a tacit analogy between anticapitalism and the Christian ‘good soul’. In this schema, self-sacrifice is triumphant: The artist should renounce authorial presence in favor of allowing participants to speak through him or her. This self-sacrifice is accompanied by the idea that art should extract itself from the ‘useless’ domain of aesthetic and be fused with social praxis. As the French philosopher Jacques Rencière has observed, this denigration of the aesthetic ignores the fact that the system of art as we understand it in the West–the ‘aesthetic regime of art’ inaugurated by Friedrich Schiller and the Romantics and still operative on this day–is predicated precisely on the confusion between art’s autonomy (its position at one remove from instrumental rationality) and heteronomy (its blurring of art and life). Untangling this knot–or ignoring it by seeking more concrete ends for art–is slightly to miss the point, since the aesthetic is, according to Rencière, the ability to think contradiction: the productive contradictions of art’s relationship to social change characterized precisely by the tension between faith in art’s autonomy and belief in art as inextricably bound to the promise of a better world to come. For Rencièrethe aesthetic doesn’t need to be sacrificed at the altar of social change, as it already inherently contains this ameliorative promise.

20170410

“Art as a de-alienating human endeavour”. Preparing for Hollo-seminars with Claire Bishop’s Participation and Spectacle: Where Are We Now?. She says that artists in countries behind the Iron-Curtain masqueraded their socially engaged art processes as formal social events (such as weddings) to avoid censorship. The Record Singers group also worked in this way.. Perhaps not against censorship but as an effort to claim normatives space to execute their non-normative actions at. She also warns us that (unpaid) audience participation is a result of audiences being subordinated to the artists will (participation can be an extension of capitalism).

 

20170327

IKEA GLOCK 9mm (2012). A photo of an assembled unit.

Writing an abstract for the Hollo Institute spring seminar, emailing with Kristina Junttila concerning an upcoming trip to Tromsø (a horse performance is in the making!), stressing over the Kontula Electronic gig and making neurotic/pointless edits to the SOW: Blacksmith ed.1 sound pack text descriptions/webpage (while waiting for Frederic to confirm that the clips have been accepted to freesound.org).

Discussing the politics of art education: Pedagogical Paradigms: Documenta’s Reinvention (2010) by Denise Frimer.

With the question ‘What is to be done?’ the artistic directors of Documenta 12 (2007), Roger Buergel and Ruth Noack, launched the exhibition’s investigation of the complexities of globalization and the neo-liberal agenda that is privatizing institutional education and culture. The curators understood the potential of ‘education’ and ‘art’ as mediated forms for the production of collective knowledge and political practice. But what implications are being made if these polar disciplines are forming relationships in other spaces? What forms pedagogical practice when applied as ‘edutainment’ in contemporary art mega-exhibitions such as in the Documenta X, 11 and projects? […] Common rituals of pedagogy, characterized by critical learning and innovation, are appropriated in socially engaged exhibitions and intersect to blur the line between education and art.

This convergence of art and education exemplifies a shift in the nature of the academy and art. ‘New Institutional’ practice, a curatorial trend developed in the late 1990s as ‘part community centre, part laboratory and part academy,’ as artist-curator Jonas Ekeberg defined it, demonstrates a paradigmatic shift in the institution of education since the mid 1950s away from the dominant orthodoxies of the educational establishment.

Both vices, the dogmatic tendency of the academy and the commodification of the object, have become embedded within the institutional body of contemporary art.

Artists and curators who displayed leading radical tendencies in the 60s and 70s, such as [Harald] Szeemann and Joseph Beuys, were influenced by the early ‘street events’ of George Maciunas and his convictions against formalist aesthetics; they were determined to subvert the museum framework and its ideologies of establishment.

[…] Szeemann’s exhibition would shift the theme to visual perception based on a mutual correlation of the artworks. In 1972 Szeemann said ‘the work of art can be experienced in various ways: as information, for its connections, or as the way to a more concentrated statement.’

Paulo Freire, a key educator and theorist of critical pedagogy, who was writing contemporaneously with Szeemann’s preparations for Documenta 5. In his key text, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), Freire questions the ‘banking’ idea of education, a model conditioned by teachers who deposit information into students to produce knowledgeable subjects under a system based on social hierarchy. […] Education, in this instance, becomes a more participatory practice, activating the invisible and imaginary in education and furthermore, the unfamiliar. This non-formal model of educational practice, one could argue, was best exemplified in Szeemann’s Documenta 5, thematically devised as it was on individual mythologies which presented alternative discursive frameworks.

Critic Hans-Joachim Müller states that Szeemann’s Documenta had completely ‘unmasked the rituals’ of art by refraining from the aestheticization of the art object in favour of directly addressing the moral consciousness of the audience – that is, by evoking a spontaneous criticality within art qua social practice.

Since the beginning of his career in the 1960s, [Joseph] Beuys’ artistic production followed a ‘parallel process’ of education and artistic performance. His version of an academy was founded in his epic Office for Direct Democracy (1971), staged at Documenta 5, where, independently from the institution, he held discussions on important issues such as the environment, politics and education, as well as alternative models for schools.

For Beuys, the museum was another state-operated educational institution from which he could practice and expand on the traditional notions of an academy, but split from the existing academic standards. This marrying of aesthetic production and pedagogy would invent new social structures outside the institutional boundaries and challenge conventional practices in education. […] Beuys worked against any pedagogical model and any theoretical basis for his performance teaching. He continued to believe that the foundations of the world economy, law and culture were about training, education and research based on a model of what he claimed ‘an information site’ for all people, and actively sought to create a social experience in which the relationships between student and teacher would collapse. His method was one of fusing aesthetics with socio-political debates, in order to create an emancipatory pedagogy, by making education become more visible through performance.

Szeemann, who respected Beuys’ model of teaching, presented open-ended performances in his exhibition format. The event-based Documenta 5 would therefore help the curator attempt to break with institutional conventions between art and its representations.

In 1997, Documenta X presented a model of critical pedagogy based on an interdisciplinary apparatus, and the curator’s concept of a retrospective exhibition.

While the first Documenta proposed to reclaim the spirit of avant-garde history, it also strategically repressed the entrenched memory of war and the Nazi ruling period.

The curator Catherine David’s opening lines in her first research issue of documents, questions: ‘can an exhibition like Documenta – somewhere between an experimental space and an arts bazaar – propose a model capable of confronting the complexity of aesthetic experience today?’ […] David is clearly preoccupied in her Documenta with resisting the commodification of art and western culture, which, as I noted above, had permeated all aspects of aesthetic production and the art museums by the late 1990s.

The parallel processes of art and education practiced by Beuys are echoed in David’s politically charged program, only her event is based on an intellectual platform, inviting experts in the fields of interdisciplinary arts to perform for 100 days. David’s political approach as a traditional model of education, in conjunction with [Arnold] Bode’s deliberate social approach in his early organization of Documenta, marked what education philosopher John Dewey in 1916 described as the ‘social function’ of education.

In 2002, Documenta presented a model of high critical pedagogy based on a radical de-centralisation and de-culturalisation of the established institution. […] Hirschhorn’s Bataille Monument, dedicated to the French writer Georges Bataille, was paradoxical from the early planning stages. […] The monument was installed in a working-class African-Turkish neighbourhood outside the main Documenta sites of Kassel. […] Hirschhorn worked with a group of residents comprising youths and adults from the housing complex taking two months to build the monument. The monument was a makeshift building of wood shacks, a snack bar, a library, a Bataille exhibition with explicit graphic material, a TV studio and a wooden sculpture in the shape of a tree.

Interestingly, Hirschhorn deliberately kept Documenta tourists away from visiting the art monument – thus preventing what he calls the ‘zoo effect’, which Claire Bishop has described as an established Other viewed from the outside.

Beuys and Hirschhorn, both actors in their social stagings, created independent pedagogical models within the framework of the Documenta exhibition. Beuys on the grounds of the museum and Hirschhorn outside, both sought out their audience and relied on non-professional participants to multiply the educational experience and change the social fabric.

The application or access to intelligence and knowledge is more a matter of desire and learning than an act of will, and training and strengthening of this will. In other words, learning is about emancipation, at least when it occurs within a progressive universal teaching method. [Jacques] Rancière writes: ‘This device allowed the jumbled categories of the pedagogical act to be sorted out, and explicative stultification to be precisely defined. There is stultification whenever one intelligence is subordinated to another.’.

Documenta X and 11 similarly adopted the form of a conventional model of pedagogy but with important political issues on their agendas.

As we have seen, the Documenta project emerges as an educational venture by way of an experiment in the mid 1950’s, when it embraced a universalism and utopian belief in the museum as an educational force, yet while betraying a historical amnesia in its search for a future social reconstruction. […] Conservative dominant institutions allowed pedagogical practices to move to external and open spaces of the ‘everyday’, as in Documenta 5’s move away from historical concerns to more contemporary economic, social, and political concerns.

In Radical Philosophy’s contribution to the Magazines Project, Peter Osborne acknowledges Documenta at the ‘forefront … of international contemporary art, but also of institutional reflection upon its intellectual, cultural and political functions.’ Simultaneously, Radical Philosophy questioned the cultural legitimacy of such educational initiatives, suggesting that they represent an act of instrumentalization by such large-scale exhibitions, as in any University.

Such instrumentalization, including the pulled back funding from universities and the arts, has “con-demmed [students] to the bleakest of futures”40 in the context of education in the UK and elsewhere. While public education is in a continuous battle of privatization by neoliberal government bodies, whereby only the wealthy will become empowered by a glorified education, we might consider alternative models such as the Documenta and other biennial exhibitions for creating more productive possibilities in education. These alternative institutions and the artists who exhibit in them, albeit on very different levels, inevitably become subject to some degree, to the demands of capitalism. Still, in spite of this, what is practiced in these alternate spaces, is exactly what the government has foreclosed in many universities and higher education in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: a platform for critical thinking and social mobility for all people.

20170113

Visited palvelus – ritual event last night at TeaK by invitation of Matilda Aaltonen. The event was three hours long and required intensive physical engagement. The group had designed a contemporary faux-ritual which was rooted in existing ceremonies exercised by various religious and other spiritual orders. The group had attended some ceremonies during the rehearsal phase and their show was framed as an open-source/mishmash ritual, built from elements copied from exiting ceremonies. This approach, the costumes we were invited to wear and pompostrous choreographies we were thrown into, felt kitschy. The kitchiness helped me to immerse in the experience! During the event we danced to techno in a space hut and exercised meditation/yoga breathing techniques. The event ended with a communally prepared supper.

The artwork was a protest against recent political efforts which seek to turn art into a social service or a tool for social wellbeing. In such plans the primary intent of art is to ease work related stress and build motivation. “Palvelus-ritual” worked very well as a protest! It claimed that if art is politically forced to serve the wellness in the public, a natural result of this process is that it becomes a faux-spiritual holistic ritual. In this future KELA (the social insurance institution offices) would have shamans as consultants and guests would have to perform spiritual dances to receive welfare benefits.

I’m preparing a 20 min speech for Hollo-institutes spring seminar on utopian-art-education by invitation of Maaretta Riionheimo (Whom I met through KOM-theater Vuosaari project). I’m working on a manifest on speculative new-material pedagogy and pushing animals to the mix too: Adjunct Professor The Awaited Son is in the game! I’ll be on stage in Gloria before professor Eeva Anttila (TeaK) and emeritus professor Kari Uusikylä. A tough mix to crack with mere artistic merits. I’ll work the crowd with pictures of horses, it never fails.

Concerning teaching.. I’ve been working actively with a group of five graduating students from the Kankaanpää Art School. I’ve been in periodic contact with them from early autumn onwards. Meetings have been organised on skype and in Helsinki. The group is very hard to reach via email and I don’t know how their plans are working out. Art students don’t know how to use email (also offered them the opportunity to look me up on snapchat, whatsapp and skype etc. but they remain distant).

Currently preparing to meet Otto Karvonen concerning a Vuosaari related art effort.