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Deep Education

Litia Perta

What is education? What do we mean when we say that? What is art education and why do we care about it? What does learning about art—or learning to art or learning art—do that other learning does not do? What are we doing when we teach in these programs? And what does it mean (in a culture of ever expanding university cash cow internet “education” programs) to design a video program as a kind of class or lecture for an unknown public, complete with notes on each video, justifications for watching them, reasons why the videos themselves are worthy of a viewer’s time, attention? In other words, what is the promise, the problem, the practice, of this kind of (art) education?

And what does it mean when active engagement rubs up against rote, unchangeable structures that we have decided should work for everyone—but don’t? Even in this practice: I have written this piece as an essay that has a series of thoughts to introduce it and then leads from one video piece into the next into the next, hoping to share a provocation: a continued, carefully unfolding problem. But I am told that the form of these video “classes”—the form they must take—is a six-hundred-word announcement that goes out to subscribers only; and what is made available to an internet browsing public is just a list, divided into the video pieces, each with its own commentary, like small products available to be lifted off a shelf, so long as they are beholden to no thing around them… thought islands, unencumbered. So I am pasting my piece in the space meant for my first link (small subterfuge), because there is no limit to the words I can use, as long as my contributions, my units, are divided, and unmoored from their contexts.

My hope is that the reader/viewer/thinker will move through the videos one by one, absorbing a sense of the continuity of the thought-lines that gather them together. As you do this, my hope is that you will let them open, shift, unsettle you. Perhaps you will wonder what it looks like to not call a room to order, perhaps you will question what “order” even is, what it can be. And perhaps you will come away with a more urgent sense of what education is, and perhaps too, of all that it is not. And maybe this effort will have left something unforeseen, something else, something other, in its wake. That is the hope.

 

Litia Perta is a writer living in Los Angeles. She teaches Art Writing and Critical & Curatorial Studies at the University of California, Irvine. She is currently writing a book on alternative forms of kinship.

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January 14, 2016