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July 2, 2021

School Watch: RAT school of ART: Self-Learning and Building New Networks in Seoul

Art & Education

RAT Talks #71 with Jewyo Rhii, April 8, 2017. Photo: Dirk Fleischmann.

RAT Lab #06 with RAT member Bigo, November 26, 2016. Photo: Dirk Fleischmann.

RAT Talks #19 with Raimundas Malašauskas, August 22, 2015. Photo: Dirk Fleischmann.

RAT seminar “The Future is Painting” with Jenny Cho, spring 2020. Photo: Mijoo Park.

RAT Lab #05 with RAT member Hyelim Cha, August 27, 2016. Photo: Dirk Fleischmann.

RAT Talks #89 with Hyunjin Kim, April 3, 2018. Photo: Mijoo Park

RAT Lab #02 with RAT member Chan Min Jeong, April 2, 2016. Photo: Dirk Fleischmann.

Discussion with Ahn Kyuchul at his exhibition Invisible Land of Love, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, September 15, 2015. Photo: Mijoo Park.

RAT school of ART: Self-Learning and Building New Networks in Seoul
by Sun A Moon

RAT school of ART organized “The Forest Is In The City Is In The Forest – II” with The Forest Curriculum to encourage thinking on current environmental crises from an Asian perspective through the lenses of violence, politics, and ecological history. Originally intended as an in-person summer school but moved online due to COVID-19 restrictions, the program was presented from October 2020 to January 2021 and sought to build artist networks by hosting lectures, performances, and workshops. The intentions of “The Forest Is In The City – II” might seem contradictory: both “connecting the few and the multitude,” as permitted by its digital migration, and “constructing in-depth networks,” which would have resulted from in-person exchanges. But these intentions speak to the principles that have guided RAT for the last seven years.

Started as an art space in 2014, the Seoul-based RAT school of ART operates as a learning platform but, at the same time, builds community not only among artists but between artists and the public. According to Dirk Fleischmann, the founder, and Mijoo Park, the director, RAT is a community where art and ideas can be discussed, not merely a small group of practitioners with specific pedagogical dogmas or an academic laboratory that develops a learning process but does not demand a change in the way art is taught. The goal is to support people from various cultural, educational, and socioeconomic backgrounds who interact with and learn from each other through artmaking. To this end, RAT has worked to connect the few with the multitude through the “RAT Talks” lecture series and to build in-depth networks through the “RAT Membership Program.”

To examine RAT’s origins, it is necessary first to survey the landscape of the Korean art scene in the years before the program was founded. Various biennials and many public and private art museums were instituted in Korea in the 1990s, and by the 2000s, many alternative spaces like Alternative Space Loop, Alternative Space Pool, Insa Art Space, Project Space Sarubia Dabang, and Ssamzie Art Space opened their doors. Korean galleries gained prominence in the global art market, and international curators and artists began to visit Korea with greater frequency. Dirk Fleischmann was one such artist, arriving to Korea from Germany. In 2009, he began hosting the “Black Sheep Lecture Series” at Hansung University in Seoul in collaboration with Hunyee Jung, a professor of painting at the university. “Black Sheep Lecture Series” invited international artists like Luchezar Boyadviev, Sabine Kacunko, Antoni Muntadas, and Sean Snyder to give presentations on art practice with the intention of creating a new platform for the discussion of contemporary art. Centered around exchanging information with artists and curators who have different careers and experiences, these sessions were designed to be simple and casual, eliminating the hierarchy of the lecture format. Speakers and guests all sat on the floor together and, after the main presentation, developed dialogues through Q&A sessions and in-depth conversations.

Read the full text on School Watch.

School Watch presents critical perspectives on art education. Featured profiles and conversations survey programs in fine art, curating, critical theory, and other related disciplines, as well as the ideas and conditions that influence their practice.

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