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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.”

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