Re: [-empyre-] what is being done? (educatIon): introducing Chris Molinski and Illiyana Nedkova
Greetings from Sofia,
Echoing Chris Molinski's view that art education is not an alternative,
I would like to suggest that education is primarily a curatorial issue
and thus part of every curatorial practice. Indeed, issues of
contemporary art education have recently gained in urgency and
relevance in the UK, at least. Alongside the curator, the art educator
has emerged from obscurity and assumed a stellar position in
institutions up and down the country. What is being done? From
governmentally funded education initiatives to corporate community
projects, a range of activities at galleries, even artworks disguised
as guided tours around biennales.
A more pertinent question would be – what is to be done to avoid
considering art (education) as Roger M. Buergel puts it "a repair
business for removing misery and injustice from the world." (See
Gregory Williams, Heir Unapparent: Gregory Williams on Roger M.
Buergel, In ArtForum, February 2004). I would raise another concern
– what is to be done to avoid misusing art (education) for generating
funds for funds' sake?
What follows is an overview of a few projects as an invitation to
critically evaluate what is being done; to assess their significance
for both artists and audiences involved. Art education has long ceased
to be confined to the publicly funded sector in the UK. Since 2003
London’s Frieze Art Fair – probably the most successful of the new
breed of contemporary art fairs – has been running Frieze Education. In
2006 this programme of artist-led, practical sessions for families and
young people was expanded thanks to Deutsche Bank’s community
investment programme run by its Corporate Social Responsibility UK unit
in conjunction with Camden Arts Centre which describes itself as
London’s only international art and education space.
With four artists employed to work on site at the fair, these free
sessions were spectacularly popular and fully booked in 2006.The
sessions were carefully planned with the artist team to capture an
insightful experience of the fair and encourage creativity and critical
thinking. It would be interesting to be able to investigate whether
those young people participating have improved their understanding of
the business world; whether they raised their aspirations and skills
as to aim higher in school and in life as prescribed in Deutsche Bank’s
statement. Another point for reflection would be the overwhelming
demand for such activities in the context of the art market place while
similar initiatives at the white cube still remain underattended.
If Frieze Education is once a year, Spin is an all year round
opportunity or an exclusive members’ club set up to help its members
‘get to the heart of contemporary art’. Spin was also launched in 2003,
by the National Galleries of Scotland and its dedicated Education
Department, funded directly by the devolved government of Scotland.
Spin is run in conjunction with Glasgow City Council and Contemporary
Art Society – the UK charity that promotes the collection of
contemporary art by both museums and individuals. Spin’s yearly
membership fee, its monthly guided tours (often by the exhibiting
artists or curators) at contemporary art exhibitions in Edinburgh and
Glasgow, plus occasional Spin-offs at international art fairs and
biennales has proven to be a very successful commercial model adapted
by public bodies.
One of the forthcoming Spin-offs is the members’ visit to the Threshold
artspace in Perth – the home of Scotland’s only collection of digital
(public) art always on view through a daily programme of specially
commissioned 22-channel video installations, interactive soundscapes,
live Internet transmissions, single-channel video art and art games
projections. Spin members will be treated to a guest curator’s walking
tour of the artspace and a private view of NY Fresh – a programme
featuring works by emerging New York artists – all new additions to the
artspace collection guest-curated by Anne Barlow, Artistic Director of
New York’s Art in General. This tour is only an extension of the
fortnightly curator’s tours specially tailored for non-visual arts
specialists, primarily classical music lovers following their
attendance of a lunchtime concert. The Threshold artspace itself is
located at the threshold of the new Perth Concert Hall with all the
multiple screens, projections, speakers, sensors and cameras embedded
in the fabric of the building. This symbiosis between music and visuals
arts under one roof makes these educational tours highly appropriate
and very popular.
While Spin pampers its members in specially orchestrated private views,
the curator’s tours of the Threshold artspace convert a concert-going
audience into visual arts aficionados. In other contexts, artists are
hijacking the formats of education and outreach programmes for their
own artistic means. Bulgarian artist Luchezar Boyadjiev ‘specialises’
in offering guided tours to audiences at various international art
exhibitions, connecting artworks from different shows through his
often-humorous analyses. Typically, Boyadjiev’s ‘artwork’ for Singapore
Biennale 2006 was an unusual service: a series of live performances or
guided tours about other artworks at the biennale. The tours were
conducted by the artist himself and a ‘franchise’ of recruited
volunteers (aka ‘Guiding Agents of Belief’), trained to guide in
Boyadjiev-style through the biennale.
These artist’s guided tours are relational artworks which could be
judged on the basis of the ‘inter-human relations which they represent,
produce or prompt’ (from Nicholas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics,
France, les presse du reel, 1998). Boyadjiev’s tours are also a prime
example of how to tackle 'the global complex of cultural translation
that seems to be somehow embedded in art and its mediation’ (Roger M.
Buergel, Three Leitmotifs of documenta12). Often the artist would
re-organize the exhibitions' interconnections, invent interpretations,
joke around and comment as he wishes. As this happens mostly after the
opening, his fellow artists are unable to answer back.
We can only speculate that if conducted within the context of a major
exhibition or a biennale in Scotland, Boyadjiev’s artwork would have
received one of the Scottish Art Education Awards.This initiative is
one of several organised by the Visual Arts Department of the Scottish
Arts Council to recognise and encourage the importance of visual arts
education. The Council embodies the principle of arms-length public
funding which is soon to be replaced in favour of direct government
support through the Minister of Sports and Culture. While in
transition, the Council has funded several new education posts in
visual arts organisations. Only a few years ago two Scottish galleries
had dedicated posts for art educators, but now this number has grown
fivefold, including galleries in Skye, the Western Isles, Stirling and
The Council has also supported the recent appointment of an ‘uber-arts
educator’ – a co-ordinator for the Scottish branch of engage – the UK
association for gallery education (also with an international
membership) promoting good practice in making visual arts accessible
and enjoyable to a wide audience. The fact that such an international
members' association has been established is indicative of the
significance of art education in the publicly funded art establishment.
The need for engage services by the growing membership base seems to be
on the rise. These include an educator locator; engage-ments news
bulletin; the forum around issues of gallery education, and the
rigorously compiled case studies under the rubric 'what works'.
'Collect & Share' is more than another engage service. It is an
Europe-wide lifelong learning programme in which engage is
collaborating with leading museums and galleries.
Finally, it is my belief that it is the responsibility of the curator
(who often doubles as the art educator) to be crucially aware of what
is being done in contemporary art education; to adhere to the best
practice and to constantly question the need and means of spreading the
artists' message around.
Co-Director | Co-Owner | ARC Projects | www.arcprojects.org
Creative Director New Media | Horsecross | www.horsecross.co.uk
Hon Cultural Attache | www.bulgarianconsulatescotland.org.uk
PhD Candidate in Curatorial Theory and Practice | www.livjm.ac.uk
e:firstname.lastname@example.org | m:+359 (0)88 6288 368 | skype:inedkova
post: 3F1, 27 Rossie Place | Edinburgh | EH7 5SD | Scotland
currently working from: 38 Ravnets Street | Sofia | 1298 | Bulgaria
On 9 Jan 2007, at 21:06, Christina McPhee wrote:
it's my pleasure to introduce to you two curators who've been
extraordinary in their new approaches to education and art in the
public space, Illiyana Nedkova (SCT) and Chris Molinski (US).
Described as 'a curator of taste and critical discernment', Iliyana is
a Sofia-born Edinburgh-based curator, producer and critic of
contemporary art and design. Currently, Creative Director New Media at
Horsecross, Perth where she is responsible for curating the Threshold
artspace, Scotland's first dedicated gallery for digital public art. A
founding Co-Director of ARC: Art Research Communication (with Chris
Byrne), a curatorial practice working nationally and internationally
with artists, exhibitions, art fairs, editions and critical context.
Latest ARC Projects include the international symposium of curating new
media Art Place Technology, Liverpool and a series of limited editions
by artists Susan Collins, Alla Georgieva, Pravdoliub Ivanov, Ivan
Moudov and Dan Perjovschi.
Over twenty new Horsecross commissions by artists from 11 different
countries have been premiered at Threshold artspace since September
2005. New shows are continuously produced and exhibited as part of the
evolving Threshold collection of artists’ films, video, digital
photography, visual poetry, interactive titles, sound toys, Internet
art and computer games. The Threshold artspace features nine unique
spaces available for artists’ interventions including an interactive
entrance box; a ‘canvas’ of 22 screens dominating the foyer; a
playground with flexible screens and interactivity; a trail of sound
boxes embedded in the floor; a surprise audiovisual treat tucked away
in public toilets; copper-clad roof of the concert hall for an added
visual delight. Threshold artspace unique locations are linked together
by an ‘intelligent’ control system and open source software which
allows artworks to be displayed and experienced up to 14 hours a day
throughout the year.
I first met Illi at the Cybersonica Festival at the ICA in London in
Chris directs The Art Gallery of Knoxville, a community space devoted
to discussions of new and emerging art in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Recent exhibitions have involved collaborations with the Center for
Urban Pedagogy, Max Neuhaus, and the exhibition "Distribution Religion"
with Critical Artware, People Powered, and Temporary Services.
I've been intrigued in Chris's work ever since he 'appropriated' an
entire month of the -empyre- list discussion into a printed book as an
art 'object' for an exhibition/project last year called "Building an
Archive". -empyre- was shown with On Kawara, Felix Gonsalez-Torres,
and Sean MIcka.
Like Illiyana, Chris has been developing what I might call, after
Edward Soja, ' a third space' for critical art practice in the public
sphere. By creatively remixing the lessons of the situationists with
the ethos of
a new regenerative 'commons'.
Please welcome Chris and Illi to -empyre- soft-skinned space.
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