This way, Alex Folla, a bard of other times, different from all that is conventional, [a bard] of time that flows, like in crazy and lysergic dreams driven by Dionysiac or divine influence, sometimes backwards, other times in a vertical fashion, other times in a horizontal fashion, envelopes today and yesterday, what is near and what is far, what is known and what is exotic, in a single unitary and coherent project; this way, we were saying, Alex Folla celebrates the present, through the eyes and the memory of a very unknown, very mysterious, very bizarre and solitary hermit monk, who people say that maybe lived on the mountains of a now abandoned village in ruins in a small valley in northern Italy, a celebration of the Creation and its mysterious, inscrutable plan.
The artist created his own cosmogony and his own complex, articulated project, to represent a time that, with the linearity of the tale, for many decade had lost the ability and hope to combine together in a single encompassing view the past, the present, the most ancient and fluid mythology, and the articulated and all-enveloping inconsistency of the modern day. Il progetto del Monaco di Cornolo The UnknownMonk si inserisce in questo quadro con perfezione quasi chirurgica. Ed ecco Uriel, il patrono delle Arti, il reggente del Sole, la fiamma di Dio, incredibilmente trasformato in centauro contemporaneo, recante in mano la candela della Fede e della conoscenza.
Uno dei pochi riti collettivi rimasti, condivisi a livello globale. Caduto il mito della storia come motore coerente e progressivo del mondo, ecco allora che si torna a celebrare la figura di un eroe senza altra forma di appartenenza e di eroismo che la propria forma fisica, il proprio vigore, il proprio coraggio: in una parola il proprio corpo atletico, solo ed eroico a rappresentare le speranze di un intero popolo. Angelo L. I chiaroscuri traggono le membra dal buio, le fanno vivere, ma ne svelano anche i difetti, la pelle vizza, la vecchiaia che procede e rode le ossa, le vene nelle quali scorre ultima linfa.
Eppure il manto protettivo del bianco, quasi illuminato per albedo, rappresenta il limiteinvalicabile a uno sprofondamento verso il nero: una sorta di luminescenza a rappresentare un altrove meno buio, una speranza non ancora dismessa. De Chirico, Pro technica oratio Alex Folla appartiene a quella rara categoria di artisti che chiedono di essere guardati.
Le note che seguono sono lontane dal voler restituire un quadro complessivo della ricerca pittorica di Alex Folla. Esse non sono che glosse sparse, suscettibili di ripensamenti e di ampliamenti, depositate in margine ad una produzione in fieri i cui sviluppi son lungi dal mostrarsi docili ad un immediato addomesticamento storico-critico. Se sfogliamo il catalogo generale di Folla e ci soffermiamo a considerare il primo tempo della sua produzione figurativa ci vengono incontro soggetti sacri e profani: scorrono negli occhi gli eroi della mitologia antica e dell'epica biblica, prevalentemente declinate al maschile.
Ci sorprendiamo a pensare: "Ma siamo certi che si tratti di un periodo di apprendistato? Troviamo una mappa di varianti e costanti. Smantellato l'apparato mitologico di uomini e di eroi, ricco di riferimenti culturali e di citazioni colte; assottigliate le modulazioni neocaravaggesche, pur tuttavia risemantizzando l'ombra, come vedremo; sfilati i drappeggi rossi, tirati a far da quinta agli scorci stupendi e alle pose sforzate del San Bartolomeo o del gruppo innervato di nerborute tensioni del Sansone, Folla scarnifica la sua iconografia riducendola a pochi oggetti concentratissimi, calati in scenari nudi di cose e ridotti a umidi grembi.
Fin dagli esordi, egli ha fatto del corpo umano il centro assoluto della sua pittura. Ma Folla non l'ha esplorato solo sulle tavole del Morelli o alla scuola di nudo dell'Accademia di Belle Arti, copiando il modello dal vero. Sono qui, insomma, le molle generative della sua poetica: in questo ginnasio figurativo esperito in un torno d'anni serratissimo e rimodellato sopra un materia interamente propria. Da qui, quel suo guardare a procedimenti e soluzioni espressive tradizionali senza per questo contaminarsi coi loro cascami accademici, uscendone anzi al momento giusto, per rientrarvi d'improvviso e rinnovarli.
Essere figurativi suonava ieri, e suona tutt'oggi, come un'infamia da nascondere. Chi voleva essere considerato artista, chi voleva essere ritenuto al passo con i tempi, doveva non essere tecnicamente preparato, doveva non saper dipingere e scolpire. Corpi gettati in un grembo arcaico, affondati in un liquore trasparente.
In questa senso, noi possiamo guardare alle tele degli ultimi anni in balia della sensazione di girarvi attorno, come faremo in presenza di una scultura a tutto tondo. Ben piantati a terra e pausati dai vuoti suggeriti dal buio, donne e uomini sono tuniche d'ombra che anelano a salire verso la vietata regione luminosa. All'opposto, sul verso troviamo gli stessi corpi, lo stesso carnaio robusto o prossimo al disfacimento trafitto da campiture bianche, simili a crisalidi di calce e gesso che scalzano o tolgono respiro al buio drammatico.
Folla sembra condurci verso un'idea di pittura che intacca se stessa, sfibrandosi dall'interno, esaurendosi, oppure costruendosi a strappi, a brani, frammentata ed errante, votata alla deriva. Alternanza di vuoti e di pieni. Dissoluzioni e rinascite che alterano la logica discorsiva del pensiero pittorico. Questo procedere che avanza di notte in notte e di bagliore in bagliore, questa batailleana "divinazione delle rovine stupendamente attese", si rispecchia anche a livello sostanziale, ossia nei titoli dei due cicli.
April 29, Posted by : Francesco Comment: 1. Hanno portato nuovi orizzonti. Goodbye, Mr. O una figura iconica della storia o della mitologia. May 26, Posted by : Jose Comments: 0. Unable to sever the primary bond that connects him to his mother, the son seeks to recover the state lost at birth and reattach himself to the matrix. Gadda saw Fascism in its earliest moments as consonant with his own ethical idealism and patriotic nationalism, but this heartfelt attitude already begins to signs of weakening in his correspondence and fiction by the middle to late 20s.
Cogliamo questo cortocircuito spiazzante in quell'anello di congiunzione tra recto e verso che sono i disegni preparatori di Folla alla serie Unheimlich. I corpi sembrano votarsi alla distruzione. Moth, in inglese, significa falena: una specie singolare di farfalla che vive, a differenza di altri lepidotteri, nella piega notturna della sua breve e fragile esistenza.
La memoria corre al celebre testo poetico di Miss Miller, analizzato da Jung nel Il canto della falena. La falena spinge il suo incandescente desiderio d'amore fin dentro la morte: sembra che nel suo sacrificio voglia rischiarare, anche solo per la durata di un battito d'ali, i sogni nutriti nel buio della sua crisalide. Anche le figure-falene di Folla gettate a respirare nel buio sinistro sembrano tendere al contatto con una bava di luce che le chiama da lontano, seducente nell'invasione di carezze sui corpi caduchi. Alex Folla, io l'ho detto da quando vidi per la prima volta una sua opera, col naso a pochi centimetri dalla tela, quel pomeriggio di due anni fa alla Gestalt di Claudio, ha trovato il noto materico incapace di barare; sbucciato fino all'osso, fino al sangue, come sempre con artisti abituati a lavorare nel sottopelle dell'esistenza col furore di schegge nella carne.
Il recto e il verso della pittura di Folla, Moth e Unheimlich, antropomorfizzano due momenti della vita e del canto della falena; ma, allo stesso tempo, trattengono nelle loro maglie un segreto inno alla pittura. Alessandro Riva - Mister P. A terra, un ragazzo sdraiato, seminudo forse morto. Tutto normale? Solo una coincidenza, dunque? On the contrary, it is a complex mechanism that has to do with our ability to recognize and elaborate, both psychologically and intellectually, what we happen to face be it a painting, a sculpture, a landscape, but also a person— so that, for the rhetorical figure called synecdoche, humanity itself and in its entirety.
Alex Folla tackles straightforwardly the key issue of vision in the era of the intrusiveness of images through a series of metaphors. Education is also the name of the space and the time that we do not understand or do understand but not quite. Education denotes not a standard, but a long, slow, laborious process. Nowadays, within the art field there are more and more alternatives to traditional institutional models of schooling: non-academic platforms, free universities, informal education provided by small-scale organizations for contemporary art, nonprofit satellites, educational projects activated by artists and collectives, education departments in art institutions museums and also galleries that offer public programs based on learning art at a higher-education level.
Despite their diversity, all the initiatives are aimed at reaching an openness in the structural layout of the education system, at experiencing new art methodologies and practices to be employed in the education process, and at addressing broader targets than the art world specifically. Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto shares this common necessity of taking responsibility for education and a desire for change. The ever-changing groups of participants, coming from all over the world, interact intensely as they discuss and examine in depth relationships between visual arts and the public sphere, starting from different practices and going through connections with various disciplines from visual arts to the theory of economical politics, demopraxy, soundscape, ecology, architecture, spirituality, et cetera.
All is done in a common environment of thought and action in which the sharing of knowledge is not the final result of the educational process initially activated in the module, but becomes the tool for the following steps each participant will take on their own, or in a group, in their own academic research and artistic planning. Each year at UNIDEE we use an interdisciplinary approach, together with mentors and guests, to examine three selected macro-themes that we think are central to contemporary so Experimentations between Art, Education and Politics, The idea behind this publication is to foster a discussion regarding the politics of education at a time of global crisis— the crisis of globalization.
Looking back at history, every moment of crisis has required a redefinition of instruments of production and transmission of knowledge. Today the crisis is above all cultural, and the global scale of the phenomenon seems to confront the field of cultural production with the need to rethink its priorities and instruments—to direct its resources into transformation at a social and political level. Education and pedagogy function nowadays as the axis around which different forms of experimental, socially and politically engaged art practices revolve. This is a symptom of a situation where art and educational experiments are striving to go beyond the context of their specific field and affect all systems of society: from economic organization and patterns of intellectual and material production to questions of governance, civil society, and the social sphere.
Education is not a neutral or invisible space of social reproduction, but the main ground from which to launch emancipatory practices. The importance of discussing new forms of pedagogical agency is pressing, since the outdated regimes of knowledge production—disciplinary, technocratic, or neoliberal—have demonstrated their roles in making life even more precarious than it is already.
This is exactly what this publication is about: namely, pedagogical programs in which thought and critique, performativity and experimentation, have become a consolidated way to influence reality. Its editorial principle is to give voice to the people engaged directly with these experiences. Seven interviews have been conducted with directors, founders and collaborators of experimental educational programs established in Western and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Middle East.
With respect to their goals and attitudes toward the public and society in general, the selected inter The idea was to present many distinctive approaches to the ways in which processes of knowledge production and education might be institutionalized and fostered. The examples span from small-scale institutions and educational programs initiated by artists, architects, or curators to pedagogical experiments enacted inside or parallel to established institutions such as universities, museums, or biennials.
The essential questions focus on how different models of instituting, exhibition making, and educational programming shape the engagement with each specific context. What does it mean to politicize art and education in different historical, political, and economic contexts of the post-welfare West, post-socialist Eastern Europe, the nonstate condition of Palestine, or within the dynamics of the Global South along the lines of former empires, from the Caribbean and Puerto Rico to Spain? What attitudes, methods, and positions are implied? Another common feature is the construction of new subjectivities, as in the case of the School of Engaged Art in St.
His idea of a de-schooling society called for the rediscovery of spontaneity, where the enactment of a familiar informal situation might suggest the possibility of anyone taking a role in the educational structure, thus promoting the horizontal exchange of knowledge and mutual learning.
Given the lack of care facilities and mutual support affecting the current social sphere, the values of reciprocity, affinity, and collective learning have once again become central. According to Haraway, a political organization structured by the principle of affinities is an organism able to recognize partial identities and contradictory points of view.
Bridging micropolitical engagement with territory on a local scale with an attention to the wider political scenario is a common thread among these different examples. Similarly The School of Kyiv. Kyiv Biennial , an initiative aimed at building a biennial as a laboratory for civil society using the tools of art, knowledge, and discursivity, aspired to overcome the status quo of Kyiv as a double periphery of Russia and the West by asserting that it is time for the West to study there.
Deeply inscribed by the legacy of pragmatist education, as fostered by the educator and philosopher John Dewey, and informed by the methodologies of the social sciences, the program merges theory and practice to address different problematics related to the public sphere and political discourse. A similar task of implementation of radical pedagogies within solid institutional structures is undertaken in the attempt to rethink the relationship between the museum and its publics.
The conversation with the art critic and curator All the examples explored here aim at expanding the agencies involved in their activities and overcoming hermeticism and self-referentiality. While using the art world as a possible ground for experimentation, they wish to move beyond it and contribute to the civil space. For this purpose it seemed important to give space in this publication to a wider reflection on the subject. In order to understand the possible implications and potentialities of art acting in the civil sphere, Pascal Gielen, sociologist and cultural critic, was invited to write an introduction for the publication.
Gielen stresses the actual educational value of art in the civil domain, and notes that the claim to a civil space by cultural workers has become clearer than ever. Russell offers an overview of different typologies of educational projects founded by artists in the last twenty years. In so doing he proposes the idea of a third ecology, formed by the intersection of art and education, creating possibilities for pedagogical liberation.
The possibilities of new ecologies of knowledge—defined by the theorist Boaventura Sousa de Santos as the principle of consistency underlying constellations of knowledge, with the idea of replacement of knowledge-as-regulation with. This publication was anticipated by the exhibition Politics of Affinities. Experimentations between Art, Education and Politics5 , featuring actions and performances, documentation, installations, and films produced within pedagogical programs by their members and participants.
The show aspired to demonstrate the variety of practices, methods, and mediums employed to pursue affinity as a pedagogical and institutional model aimed at the production of critical knowledge. Beta-Local is a nonprofit organization, a working group, and a physical space founded in in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
It is an engine through which many different kinds of work take place. Beta-Local provides a platform for critical discussion and art production immersed in the local reality of San Juan, the tropics, and the Caribbean. Art is placed in constant dialogue with the social, historical, and political context. The programs seek to break the binaries between teacher and student, artist and spectator, expert and amateur, and instead propose flexible structures that allow for mutual learning and produce collective knowledge.
Events take on all sorts of topics, forms, durations, and audiences. How were the programs of Beta-Local born? Did they emerge because there were no schools of that kind at the moment in Puerto Rico? Or was it more that you perceived a need for something radically different from the existing educational institutions and initiatives? MM: In Puerto Rico there are no postgraduate programs in fine arts, so we first identified that need for the arts community. The tools that artists actually need to develop their own practices in a place like Puerto Rico are precarious.
We spent about nine During the development process, we envisioned the program not just as a small group working together, but also as one building bridges with other communities and other kinds of knowledge. We identified a need for a space for exchanging knowledge, expanding the community that could engage in conversation not only as a project, or as a specific exhibition, but as an ongoing daily activity that enables artists and curators to engage actively with the local reality.
We also wanted to create a space to live, produce, and expand our community of collaborators, making Puerto Rico a true alternative—a place to stay and develop your practice at a time when so many are leaving. They all experiment with pedagogical forms in different ways, and seek to generate new models for art making that respond to our context and circumstances.
Every year we select a small group of fellows and work intensely to create a mutually generous and critical environment for research and art production. Their interests, processes, and projects fuel a lot of our work and programming throughout the year. The Harbor allows us to make connections between local and international ideas, methodologies, and artistic practices. We invite people from a range of contexts to come live and work with us to bring other perspectives into circulation.
All sorts of people show up in our space with ideas, questions, and projects, and we often act as connectors, facilitating events that provoke encounters, deepen conversations, and put different disciplines in dialogue. We produce publications, organize intensive seminars, and offer production grants. Our long-term project is the building of a resilient, interdependent network of participants and collaborators. Each event responds directly to the needs of the people proposing it, so every teaching and learning experience is different.
We are not interested in duplicating the efforts of specialized fields or institutions, but instead opt to create structures that encourage exchange between many different kinds of knowledge. We also believe that artists should be in dialogue with a wide range of disciplines, and that aesthetic thought and practices should influence the thinking of people in many other fields. It is really rewarding to constantly look at the consequences of certain events, encounters, or conversations in the people who were present, and how they continue to develop beyond the scope of Beta-Local. It can be anything, from really specific artisanal, practical things related to creation of objects to knowledge that responds to experiences, or knowledge that has resulted from years of investigation.
Everything responds to an agenda already behind these specific institutions. So, how could we create an open school, an open space organized by the interests of the community, and use the particular structure that these organizers propose? Can you explain the reference to Ivan Illich? Is there a specific relationship between his figure, his theory of deschooling society, and your educational model?
We decided to use the name of Ivan Illich as a way of invoking his ideas and keeping them present in our concept of the program and of Beta-Local in general. There are many things he wrote that we believe in, but we are not experts on Ivan Illich, and this helped us through the process, compelling us to learn more about him and his ideas and seek out his history to uncover the effects of his time in Puerto Rico.
We started seven years ago, when Ivan Illich was invisible for us in Puerto Rico. We had everything from a study group organized by a doctor in psychology, who had been thinking and writing about Marx and Das Kapital and proposed to do a study group to discuss the first two chapters, to a resident SG:. Photo: Tony Cruz, courtesy Beta-Local. So we decided to combine her research with this film screening, put a lot of these people in the same room, and direct a conversation toward what she is investigating.
So, a lot of things at the same time! One interesting thing you see over seven It gets out of our hands in the sense that it depends on the needs of the people who use the space. I would be very interested to understand how the community of people who are not related to the arts can still be close to the institution and feel that they can participate. Is Beta-Local the only initiative of its kind in Puerto Rico, or there are other art institutions working with educational projects? Beta-Local is in a weird position, because on the one hand you have large institutions like museums, government, or cultural institutions that do more traditional programming, and then on the other hand you have a lot of independent, self-supported art spaces whose programming is mainly exhibitions.
Beta-Local has fortunately been able to acquire the resources and infrastructure to make this kind of polyform programming possible and employ a small group of dedicated people who make the tools of the organization accessible to others. At Beta-Local, we identified the engagement of diverse audiences as a priority, and as a way of thinking of the world we want to live in and the continuity we want to have.
The need for our society to build on various types of knowledge has always been a priority. We are constantly having conversations, building bridges, and reaching out to people who do not know anything about Beta-Local or who are not really used to talking with artists or sharing spaces with artists. We all come from different experiences and disciplines, and we are constantly trying to draw connections between our interests, our work, and our ways of thinking and doing elsewhere.
You get to know the types of things they are doing. We created The Harbor residency program to have a constant exchange among individuals who are not only from the local community. So, we try to enact collaborations and connections just by being together, by being able to discuss things, without having the limitations of specific disciplines. There is so much floating knowledge around us that can be impossible to grasp because the structures of contemporary society are so channeled. Donna Haraway argues that pedagogy by affinity is a way to recognize permanently partial identities and contradictory points of view.
A pedagogy based on conscious participation and a choice of shared strategies. How a certain regime of mutual care and attention is performed on a daily basis? We do always talk about reciprocal exchanges of knowledge or creating a generous environment, where everyone is a resource for everyone, and that can take a lot of different forms.
There is no model for it. For example, not everyone who comes to offer knowledge and lead a class is also acquiring knowledge, but sometimes they are looking to test the audience, to test sharing content or test a presentation. It pushes us and the people we work with.
Do you address the problematics of the colonial past of Puerto Rico in your projects? Through processes of mutual education, learning, and other activities, do you think it is pos-. We deal with it every day in different ways. For example, this year we did an event that brought together people from different land or housing struggles in Puerto Rico from the s to today, as well as people currently occupying abandoned urban spaces. Another important idea, one of the founding principles of Beta-Local that has a lot to do with decolonizing, is the insistence on anchoring artistic practices and methodologies in the context of Puerto Rico.
What are the ways of doing that respond to this place? How do we stop importing and repeating models, without contextualizing them? Not just in the practical sense but also in the conceptual sense. As a structure, when we conceived Beta-Local, we thought that the organization was going to be also an experiment. That keeps a flow of new ideas coming through Beta-Local and allows for the people who have led it to focus on their particular projects or practices and use the structure or tools of the organization in other ways.
It also protects the health of the individuals engaged in this exhausting, intense situation, since we put a lot of work into running Beta-Local and that takes a toll. Since we wanted Beta-Local to be a long-term institution, we knew that it also had to have a structure that was self-critical and flexible. So, one way to keep it relevant is to rotate the directors, and that also maintains the energy of the people involved and the health of the organization. It creates the possibility of having maybe ten years from now ten or fifteen people who have been directors and have been working directly inside the organization, contributing in different ways.
They can overlap in needs or in moments, come in for particular projects and maybe ten years from now there is a specific situation in the organization that requires someone to go back to directing because they can be particularly useful.
Beta-Local currently has only four full-time employees to administer its three spaces, three large public programs, and Those are the same people in charge of fundraising, communicating, documenting, and building relationships. On top of that, we all have individual artistic practices and projects, families, et cetera. We are always looking for new sources of funding, but we rely mainly on local and international foundation grants, individual donations, and fundraising events that go from big yearly parties to small community meals every month.
Beta-Local has developed a legal structure, an infrastructure, and a trajectory throughout the past seven years that is a tool at the service of people and projects that have collaborated with the organization as they continue to work beyond their time in our programs.
We live in a capitalist and colonial society, and Puerto Rico is in the midst of a political and financial crisis, but we are very intentional and rigorous about challenging this through the ways in which we work. We all share administrative, creative, and even maintenance responsibilities, and we make sure everyone has the flexibility to take on professional opportunities that might come up without feeling hindered by the work of the organization. San Juan, Campus in Camps, Dier Balut Village, Courtesy Campus in Camps.
Campus in Camps is an educational program that activates critical learning and egalitarian environments in Palestinian refugee camps in order to overcome decades of social exclusion, political subjugation, and apathy. Perhaps even more importantly, Campus in Camps has contributed to the way formal educational institutions understand themselves, aiming to overcome conventional structures by intersecting rigorous academic research with the everyday life in refugee camps, involving teaching staff from university and students refugees and non-refugees.
Campus in Camps today has two essential and interdependent pillars. The second is a consortium of local and international universities that are collaborating with the courses, seminars, and workshops of Campus in Camps, involving students and teaching staff. Campus in Camps activities are in constant dialogue with the popular committees of the southern West Bank refugee camps. Both of them have a history of working with us. One part of her work focused on meeting the refugee camp communities from the southern West Bank.
At some point people raised the need for a platform where they could come together to talk about life in the camp, discuss their needs and their agencies, and above all try Alessandro Petti in parallel was teaching at Al-Quds Bard College and running DAAR, a studio and art residency based in Beit Sahour, and in a friendly conversation with me he said that he felt the need to connect more with the space of the camps in order to exchange experiences and knowledge.
This need arose during his teaching at Al-Quds Bard College after engaging with refugee students, but above all he thought that he could learn something from meeting with us. This is how they came up with the very basic idea that would engage them with people living in the camps. Then we came together in as fifteen people joining this experimental program that now we call Campus in Camps.
We were men and women from different camps but also working together with other people who come from outside the camps. The challenge was, how to create a group? How do we establish a common language and a common understanding? How do we work together? How do we create a platform, a ground, in order to communicate? It was really challenging at first because we had different perspectives on the spaces that we come from and of course on who we are, what we represent, and how we connect with one another and with the space itself. There seems to be a major emphasis on the construction of specific language adapted to describe the reality around Campus in Camps.
Could you explain how this connects to the learning process? In this process we spent four or five months just talking about things. It was very theoretical: we sat around the table and we discussed. By the end of those five months we came up with the idea to establish a Collective Dictionary, a publication that contains particular terms that we the individu After discussing issues of representation, we all agreed that the refugee camp represents a site of knowledge and history for us, unlike what we have always thought of it being, namely a space of marginalization.
I think that the best way to answer that is to look back at individual history. I grew up in a community center in my refugee camp, which I joined in when I was eleven years old. The IAB:. Next to me there would be a guy who would take a picture of me drawing in order to send it to a European donor and get money for the NGO. This reality exists once you are exposed to human rights support and help. They look at you as a victim and as a marginal subject. In many ways there is someone who can teach you.
This is not a nice feeling and above all not a true reality. The same thing is how schools deal with people in Palestine. What Campus in Camps gave us is an approach to reconsider this rhetoric from the bottom up. The camp has been in existence for more than sixty-eight years. We cannot deny the reality that this space has a real history.
When people moved to the refugee camp they had nothing, as they were forced to leave everything behind due to the Nakba, but the reality of the camp today speaks of a different situation. Despite adverse political and social conditions Palestinian refugee camps have developed a relatively autonomous and independent social and political space. They are no longer a simple recipient of humanitarian intervention but rather an active political subject. The contradiction is in the way refugees came to internalize the discourse of humanitarian organizations and even the political discourse, which is affecting the way we speak of ourselves, of the space, and of the way in which we exercise our lives in the space.
I can give you an example. In the first year of Campus in Camps we researched a particular site that was established collectively by the community, which carries a strong political and social meaning. What does it mean for a camp to claim authority over a city? In the Oslo Accords that were signed between the Palestinian and Israeli authorities, it was written that no bridges or tunnels should be built over main streets in the West Bank.
And this created a great challenge to the community of Dheisheh to pose this accord between both parties and still insist on building it. This is a small example of a strong, yet often underestimated, political and social life existing in the camp. We try to never make a gap between ourselves and the community because we are also part of the community.
Whatever we do in Campus in Camps, we try to express ourselves to ourselves us to the community. Rather we tried to establish a group. With time the group became bigger and bigger. I cannot talk about it in terms of numbers but in terms of vision. We talk and we act upon a vision and principles.
It was the responsibility of the collective to build a vision together. We try to be critical about ourselves and about the space, about different sources of knowledge. This is what I mean by challenging the means of learning. We believe the best way of learning is to be critical.
After questioning what a refugee camp is today, we decided to produce another form of representation about camps and refugees. By the end of the first year we decided to practice this vision. We believe that we have to combine theory and practice. So we started to materialize the vision we build collectively, and implement projects. Can you explain how the teaching and learning happen? We believe that those who come to engage with the program should have a different kind of engagement. The main conflict that we often face with international people, particularly those coming from Europe and the United States, is that they come to the refugee camp with a stereotyped idea of what a refugee camp is.
Above all they come with propositions and hierarchy that reflect the mentality of the colonizers. But when they arrive and experience life in the camp they normally learn more than what they give. Only if you come here in order. This is the message we try to give to the people who come to Campus in Camps. We normally invite people—academic and non-academic, from Palestine or from outside—on a weekly bases to give what we call Saturday public lectures. We decide on a topic to talk about and invite people who we also want to challenge or want to be challenged by.
We spend three or four hours talking deeply about the topic. If we like the person and feel there is a need to spend more time with them, we ask them to stay with us for three months, and those three months we call a cycle, in which we meet twice or three times a week. And we go deep in implementing a research that at the end of the day will contribute to the Collective Dictionary.
We mean to always connect with family and friends outside Campus in Camps. We are very much depending on one another. We understand Campus in Camps as a free and open space. What kinds of schools exist in the camp, and how do they relate to Campus in Camps? IAB: The camp is located in the city, so there is a defined border but it is not an isolated island; it is fully connected with the city.
Refugees have the right to study at the public and private schools in the city. Inside the refugee camp the only schools are those founded by the United Nations for the Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, and there is a particular regulation. Schooling is thus quite a problematic issue.
Schools are often overcrowded and so on. At Campus in Campus we try to focus on the curriculum. What do you think are you decolonizing from, in the contemporary situation? The Israeli colonization is manifested in rather concrete bodies, such as the Israeli soldiers, the checkpoint, and the apartheid wall. This is something you can see, so your mind can understand easily this form of occupation. The entire world in many ways is subject to it. This is exactly what we want to decolonize and emancipate ourselves from. We want to connect to the space, connect to the experience of ourselves and our history and heritage.
And this is how the Collective Dictionary came to be. Because we have to go to the wedding, we have to contribute financially, and then when you are married people come to you and they do the same, so this enhances the social relations, social supports. In Campus in Camps we try to challenge every given definition. Some definitions work in some contexts, but here we have a different context. So how does this work here? We negotiate terms and notions. And what does it mean now, when all the Arab states are collapsing, to fight for the same model?
IAB: The program at the beginning was supposed to last only two years. We decided to continue it. It is a matter of responsibil Photo: Anna Sara, courtesy Campus in Camps. Campus in Camps is not an institution; it is fully connected and grounded in the experience of its participants.
It developed organically. We received funds for two years from an organization called Giz supported by the German government. The fifteen participants received a stipend for their engagement in the program, which for me was really important. We are aware of the danger of becoming an institution in the Palestinian refugee camp. We had several experiences with institutions. Donors often support you financially and want something in return to implement their agenda.
This was our case after two years. We questioned why the government would provide Israel with submarines, weapons, and so on and when it comes to Palestinians, throw a couple of million at us! They think this is how they balance their role in the conflict?! This is a clear judgment that you see us as conflict producers. This is the danger of working as institutions. We can practice as an institution without being an institution. The way we define ourselves is that every person is a source of knowledge. Instead, how can Campus in Camps engage with academic institutions and provide something different, that can help in transforming What we wish to do with Campus in Camps is to bring the island of knowledge—supposedly the university—to the island of marginalization—supposedly the refugee camp—and give each the opportunity to learn from the other.
And after this experience we realized how strong was the need of the university to come to the camp and how many things it could learn from the camp. Campus in Camps has become quite well known abroad in recent years. How do you bridge your specific locality with the global discourses of contemporary art and architecture? Is this an interesting territory for Campus in Camps to migrate to, to speak to and connect with?
And in general, what is the role of art and architecture in a program that is very much based on the everyday needs of people? We were people of different ages and backgrounds, but everybody participated in the same experience. We visited settlements, and for us it was very interesting since normally in Palestine we understand settlements as regime, as oppression.
This is just one example of the importance of connecting struggle. And many people joined the Tree School—artists, members of the communities, anthropologists, academics. We made sure we constantly took people inside the project. It was a very rich experience. On the other hand in I went to Porto and we established the Tree School there and at some point it was awkward for me. We were a small group of people, talking about experiences and projects, about the Tree School, and then you see visitors entering the museum and starting to take pictures of you and not engaging even though the space was open.
So I think we need to be careful. As a refugee moving out of the camp you also want to break this relation of being a subaltern. I am neither an architect nor an artist. But in general I find art and architecture interesting and can learn much through them. It is not about these disciplines themselves but about the ways in which they could experimentally materialize our visions.
For instance the Concrete Tent, a space for learning and production of knowledge, was one of the good examples of how to give form to the narrations and discourses of camps and the representation of refugees beyond concepts of poverty, marginalization, and victimization. Now the program has existed for four years. What is its current status, and the situation with the current projects? We started with fifteen people.
By the end of the second year we reached forty-five. Campus in Camps is transforming constantly. Many of the participants do other life works but they are constantly fully connected with the work of Campus in Camps. One thing we are trying to do now is decentralize the program. We exist in five different refugee camps, but we wish to expand further, to other camps.
So we are working on two pillars. Second, we are working on something we call Consortium, formed IAB:. We are also working on different projects addressing the camp as a site of cultural heritage. So the idea is to look at the camp and its space from a different angle—and not only for foreigners, but also for the local people. Through these walks we aim to give people a deeper understanding of the space. Dheisheh, Bethlehem, Since its founding in , as its mission statement explains, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, has served as a space for art, knowledge, and activism.
It advocates for the dynamic and critical role of art in society, and, with and through art as a form of active knowledge, to catalyze discourse about the urgent social and political issues of our times. BAK is a site of interlocution between and among various publics, convening on the basis of shared concerns and the desire to negotiate a common future through artistic imagination, intellectual rigor, and civic engagement. Artists, thinkers, scholars, activists, public intellectuals, students, and other cultural and political practitioners, as well as myriad publics, assemble at BAK around a chosen subject, focusing on a particular urgency shared across society.
Driven by research around the chosen issue—typically manifested as a long-term itinerary of thinking that is intermittently intercepted by public manifestations—a variety of education, discourse, exhibition, and publishing programs are realized, all examining the topic in order to mobilize new ideas and negotiate their various meanings from multiple perspectives.
Ten years later, how do you see the development of this discourse? Has it become a productive critical framework for curatorial and artistic practice, or just another institutional convention? By and large, this undertaking has defined our praxis at BAK in regard to how we think about, with, and through art. Looking back, it indeed was sort of an early effort in this field of thought, struggling through what would soon become, more often than not, a discourse industry like any other industry in the art world—a systematic emptying of the meanings of these terms and a sophisticated reduction of the complexity of knowledge production to an initiation into a knowledge economy and cognitive capitalism.
But these processes do not remove from this very same world of art the many who insist on the possibility of going about such timely, critical issues differently.
For if thinking otherwise about the world—its asymmetries of in justice and power—and instituting collectivities that act according to such imaginaries are not our tasks, then I do not know what our task is. In brief, this is how I understand the imperatives of knowledge production in the realm of art today: opening other ways of knowing, and seeking how to act upon them.
What are your main thoughts concerning different ways of institutionalizing processes of knowledge production and exchange through art, and how have you seen these ideas develop through your practice at BAK? This notion goes back to how we have envisioned BAK as an art institution since its very beginning: as a matrix of possibilities rather than fixed contents or structures, one that can. What was at stake for me in the early s was envisaging instituting not as an isolated act but as a continuous process; a push and pull, back and forth between occupying the concept of the institution, resisting it, refusing it, reinventing it, and occupying it again.
Basis, in other words, is a support structure and a conceptual space that is there to lend itself in a variety of ways, time and again, to sustain the creation of imaginaries-as-other-ways-of-knowing-and-acting. To think about such instituting practice with the political theorist Gerald Raunig, consequently, it requires a fundamental reorientation of the notion and practice of the institution.
This reorientation must happen not only in terms of content, though the institution inevitably requires engaging in work other than that aimed at sensitizing the art market to politico-aesthetic experiments and their subsequent depoliticizations, as has become customary, and calls for operating distinctly outside of the realm of canonization and spectacle. That is, the ideas of modernity entrenched in structures of power, among others: the notion of progress, and, by extension, the future; the negligent divide between culture and natures; and, importantly, the notion of critique.
That last, critique, is still vital for analyzing and uncovering the complexities of our social and political predicament. While its roots call for making a decision, contemporary times. Pascal Gielen Amsterdam: Valiz, , And thus without believing in viable projects of difference, critique seems to perpetually bind us to what we critique, condemning us to rehearse the same time and again, thus foreclosing practicable choices from occurring.
This, I think, is how to bring about pre-figurative gestures that work toward being together in the world differently than how we got to know it—potential groundwork for the possibility of a sustainable future. And, as we have witnessed both historically and today, theoretically informed and politically driven artistic practices readily commit to such praxes, making the space of art a space of true politics. For as much as we need an infrastructure of care and protection to sustain our lives, institutions expose us to machinations of control and multiple bias as they always normalize the very injustices and powers they were supposed to shield us from.
It is a double bind I try to keep in mind at all times. The process of instituting otherwise is necessarily a collective labor, and as a practice of mutual exchange, always also a practice of learning. I feel greatly inspired by artistic efforts that materialize as such learning spaces, emerging out of the emergencies of the present as sites of the possible, mostly from within, in near proximity to, or even as social movements.
Could you describe what its pedagogical potential is and how it works? What can organizations and individuals that currently find themselves excluded from the international institutions of representative democracy teach us? Much like what I have just discussed, the New World Academy builds on the potential of an assembly as a site of both politics and learning in, with, and through art.
It is. The New World Academy invites stateless organizations invested in progressive political projects to share with artists, students, and publics their views on the roles of art and culture in sociopolitical movements. In Between. If the lives of the majority have been precarized to unprecedented levels by the neoliberal operations of the present, this commonly shared vulnerability and uncertainty is a key site through which this fundamental connectedness takes its shape.
Your curatorial practice is characterized by an attention to civil society and understanding of the meanings of citizenship, subjectivity, and collectivity. I am thinking, for instance, about the project Citizens and Subject in the Dutch Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale in In brief, these are refugees who applied for asylum in the Netherlands some of them.
Expelled into invisibility among us, in the very midst of our society. They have no rights to have rights: no rights to work or income, to education, shelter, or health care. As part of having organized themselves into a collective formation for struggle, in , one year after the New World Academy sequence at BAK dedicated to their cause, The curriculum of the We Are Here Academy gets defined according to the needs of the refugees, from history classes including the history of Dutch colonialism, largely ignored in formal education , to an introduction to the Dutch legal system, to media and public speaking training, to lessons on human rights, and, importantly, on strategies and histories of protest movements reaching back to the French Revolution, the civil rights movement, to Indignados, Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Nuit Debout, and so on , to a course on art and migration, which, based on their invitation, I had the privilege of teaching with the artist Aernout Mik.
The classes are given by volunteer academics and artists and held free of charge on the premises of befriended public universities and art institutions. They have a twofold aim: to build the knowledge and skills necessary for survival under the contemporary conditions of so-called western democracy, and to embody protest through this very act of learning. If the We Are Here Academy is an ongoing process of reclaiming the right to education, the Here We Are Academy—please note the shift in the title and its tonality—is to add to this very reclamation the right to educate.
In this case, the refugees in limbo have taken up roles as educators in order to share and exchange their living knowledge with a variety of participants. For more information see www. Part exhibition, part site for gathering, learning, and exchange, Unstated brought together various perspectives from the geopolitical pressure points of diverse forms of statelessness and stateless struggle: from Rojava, to Palestine, to Greece, to the refugees in limbo in the Netherlands, to the institution of art—art, indeed, being speculated upon as one among such spaces of statelessness.
The project has been conceived of as an environment rather than as what one could offhandedly call an exhibition, and thought through as a site for gathering, for the being together of stateless subjects and citizens, works of art, ideas, thoughts, and interventions into reality. It could be one way of looking at this.
These changes oblige us to remodel our understandings of the world and the worlds of art within it. Having said this, let me briefly return to the case of the We Are Here refugee collective. Remember I discussed their status in limbo as one of having no right to have rights? As it happens, an exception applies to this rule: namely the right to express oneself creatively, which I take as a possible legal claim to expressing oneself by means of protest or.
This opens up a not-so-insignificant niche for the members of the We Are Here group to claim, in the face of a near-complete denial of their existence by the powers that be, a politico-artistic life. Or, put differently, their political subjectivity can manifest through creative expression—and thus in the space of art so conceived. Provided, albeit, that this creative practice is not labor and is thus not compensated.
It does not take a huge leap of imagination to recognize in this description similarities with other artists under present circumstances, whose practices and lives have also been precarized to unprecedented levels by neoliberal op6. To be sure, by no means do I want to suggest that it is in any way possible to compare the precarious lives of refugees to those of artists. Yet even as the precarity of stateless subjects is momentously steeper, and pushed to the extreme, in both their cases it is the struggle for survival under the regime of precarity that becomes a life-structuring principle.
This is a sphere of art in which an analytical, critical mapping of the world takes place alongside an inquiry into its alternatives, combining a commitment to radically egalitarian political concepts equally in art, theory, and politics with intimate experiences of daily life. Art-as-politics engages in the continuous struggle to imagine, articulate, and embody visions of the world that move beyond what we consider thinkable today.
The notion of political collectivity here extends further than the colloquial understanding of society, as it entangles human and nonhuman, organic and nonorganic, and models an artistic alternative that is simultaneously social and ecological. Now, in answer to your question at last.
In this line of thought, the art institution is not a gallery as we know it but a space of interlocution between 7. Put differently: it is a space of care and negotiation. Utrecht, Courtesy the artists. The school was founded in in St. Petersburg, Russia, and since then has completed three yearlong courses with summer intensives in Berlin and St. Petersburg The curriculum consists of theoretical and practical courses on the history of modernist art, aesthetics, body practices and choreography, critical and poetic writing, and English for artists.
The courses are taught by invited teachers and members of Chto Delat. And this is why we have called our project the School of Engaged Art. The school could be considered an attempt to reclaim and reconsider new forms of emancipatory education through art practice. The School of Engaged Art is a unique experiment—a critical, artistled pedagogical initiative in Russia. After years of intense practice as an artistic collective, you have decided to open a school. How did the idea arise? Did some urgency in the art community and in society in general suggest the need for an alternative educational initiative?
Chto Delat operates in local and international situations, and it creates different legitimations and urgencies. Strategically speaking, we want to challenge conventional progressive critical approaches to art making. And I guess it is hard to do so from the center of normalized, institutionalized art production. One needs to step out, and with distance you can build practices and knowledge that can create dissident knowledge not only locally but internationally. This partly comes from the toughness of the local situation, which teaches you what a dissident position really means and what is at stake.
The first focuses on self-organization and education of the self, and the latter discusses the need for emancipatory politics transmitted through a different mode of popular education. Could you describe the emancipatory potential you envision through The School of Engaged Art? Does it intend to function in the art sphere or trigger real social change? As we said from the beginning, our school is not about re-production of current hegemonic or counterhegemonic structures and subjects.
It seems that the main pedagogical tool of The School of Engaged Art is performativity: performances, actions, and urban interventions, approaches that are very close to your artistic practice. Do you prioritize performativity as a pedagogical method as the way to marry theory and practice?
How is the theatrical and dialectical method of Brechtian learning play applied as an educational method in the school? Yes, yes, and yes. But we do not care so much how truly Brechtian we are—we take it as a point of departure and use it as dialectical tool that allows us to dig deep into many issues. The whole process of education in the School of Engaged Art is actually based on staging together this or that learning play in which we all have something at stake. How do you conceptualize the educational structure and curriculum of the school? We do not deliver knowledge in an academic way; we endorse a very biased, passionate, and politically engaged set of views.
But all these important things would hardly work out without practice. And we believe in priority of practice. For us it is not an abstract thing. We can provide a certain strength when we share the same topics and issues for practice together with our students. We often work on the same topics and learn things together, and this creates a certain plane of equality in inequality.
When we start to work on new issues we share our uncertainty, our ways of researching, and of seeking out things we do not know yet. To whom is the school addressed? Meaning, who are the students? And, since the school has existed for a few years, how do you see the perspective of your alumni? Do they develop as artists, or form collectives, or establish magazines, or even leave the art field?
The whole idea of the school is to experiment with what constitutes artistic subjectivity today, and we accept into the school those who want to try this.