Some say that art, or creativity, cannot be taught, nor learned. Yet look where we find ourselves: in a school of art and design. To get here, each of us had to go through a number of processes of selection. We were admitted by the school, but we also self-selected to even apply to get in. Practices and policies of inclusion and exclusion help constitute the art and design school, as it is for other institutions of higher education. The rules of in- and ex-clusion define not only who can and who cannot be an art student, but also the themes and subjects that can be talked about, and the learning outcomes and the process of subjectivation that we go through as artists, designers, and people.

This CoCreate workshop “Who is an Art School?” introduced the art school as a place where new practices emerge at the interface between making and teaching. Drawing from alternative histories and practices, we proposed emancipative practices of conviviality and pedagogy that have the power to reshape the institutions that condition creativity. We experimented with teaching practices, critical narratives and emergent toolsets such as role playing, improvisation, institutional analysis, studies of space & architecture, and the re-writing of institutional documents and formats.

The workshop addressed this year’s CoCreate Week theme of “Inclusion” in experimenting with the subjectivities and practices that make up and are made by the art school. Students from Fashion, Art, Hyperwerk and Industrial Design, and researchers from the Institutions as a Way of Life research team explored the subject by first situating their own positions, in sharing stories of exclusion as they occured to each participant personally.

We then questioned which practices of making and living in the art school includes and excludes. Based on this discussion, two groups approached different concepts of space in order to reconfigure these delineations. One group took a diagrammatic-architectural approach, collaging diagrams of spaces, bodies and organs into a three dimensional body in which forms of knowledge have space to develop. The other group took on the task of rewriting the policy documents that define the rules of an art school, including things like admission criteria, but also codes of conduct for the classroom.

After these exercises, the workshop continued as a studio for experimenting with practices of teaching and learning. Five groups took on the task of inventing a class for the art school. The resulting classes took the form of a spatial poetry workshop, a sculptural recycling practice, a session to create space in which to transform things that bother the participants, a field visit to the server infrastructure that runs the increasingly digital art school, and a workshop that proposed alternative forms of movement and physical interaction.

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