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Agonistic Academies

04 July 2011

At the conference "Art as a Thinking Process", last month in Venice, the publication Agonistic Academies has been presented. Edited by Jan Cools and Henk Slager, it collects the keynotes from EARN conferences in Amsterdam, Venice, and Brussels.

Agonistic Academies assesses the impact of the Bologna process on art academies and the concomittant "academization" of visual art.
"The gradual implementation of the Bologna rules slowly but surely made very clear in most European countries that the introverted, romantic, pre-democratic and non-dialogic master-pupil model of masterclass education had definitively come to an end. The master-pupil model had to make room for a course-based, modular program while putting the dominant arthistorical canon behind. Because of the deconstruction of the boundaries between art education, science, and the domain of art practice –boundaries that were clung on to in the former model for the sake of the principle of autonomy– curricular space is claimed now for novel components in the program such as critical studies, contextual studies, collaborative and interdisciplinary projects, experimental productions and above all for communicative and curatorial competencies. What becomes abundantly clear is that today artists should especially be able to present and contextualize their projects."
The essays in the this publication were previously presented as papers at A Certain MA-Ness (Amsterdam, 2008), Becoming Bologna (Venice, 2009) and The Academy Strikes Back (Brussels, 2010).
Troughout the book, the leading questions of each of the three conferences are addressed:
  1. What does the current academization and thinking in terms of research competencies mean for the student in art education? Could these competencies be charted in a clear and distinct way?
  2. What does the Bologna process mean for the didactic role of the lecturer?
  3. What do the novel forms of didactic interaction mean for the art academy in itself?
Tbe answers to these questions are not always positive. Thus, while Dieter Lesage argues for a wider conception of "thesis", acknowledging the work of art as a research outcome in its own right, Jan Verwoert rejects the notion of 'art as knowledge production' outright: "education based on the notion of art as a form of knowledge production creates artists focused on skills such as self-administration and email production." Mick Wilson, addressing the question of "how the academy has emerged as a paradigm and a recurrent theme within the field of contemporary art practice", argues for new ways of defining the university, while Ute Meta Bauer warns that art education is increasingly becoming commodified because "the art market today has become part of the educational system".

Common themes, however, are the appeal for "sites of experimentation" (Daniel Birnbaum), a connection between artistic production and critical studies, a focus on public space, and a laboratory-type curriculum experimenting with  novel forms of presentation and various forms of communication as “agonistic forms of address". 

Ute Meta Bauer, Daniel Birnbaum, Clementine Deliss, Hans De Wolf, Charles Esche, Renée Green, Dieter Lesage, Irit Rogoff, Simon Sheikh, Bart Verschaffel, Jan Verwoert, Mick Wilson

Language: English
Pages: 96
Size: 210 x 297 mm
ISBN 978 94 9004 904 1

Price: 10 €

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