February 25, 2022

Office Hours: Nora Sternfeld: Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (HFBK)

Art & Education

The Coming Community, vol.1, zine launch collective printing by Simona Dvořáková in the framework of the para-educational research seminar by Prof. Dr. Nora Sternfeld, Aula Wartenau, 2021. Photo: Tim Albrecht.

Workshop with documenta 15 curators ruangrupa at Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (HFBK), 2021. Photo: Tim Albrecht.

Prof. Dr. Nora Sternfeld during the online event “The Coming Community,” 2020.

New website for the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (HFBK) art education program.

Panel discussion with Lee Hielscher, Ayşe Güleç and Nora Sternfeld during the conference “Counter-Monuments and Para-Monuments. Contested Memory in Public Space” at Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (HFBK), December 2021. Photo: Tim Albrecht.

Office Hours: Nora Sternfeld: Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (HFBK)

1. Why did you decide to go into teaching?
Together, teaching and learning are forms of understanding the world that have always interested me. In this sense, knowledge is produced in the moment of learning, and the knowledge shared then multiplies. As a student in school, that idea motivated me to start the day, and as a teacher, this form of joint research and understanding is my daily life. I couldn’t imagine a better one. Learning is also a place of debating, of negotiating what we understand to be valid, and of shifting the horizon of what is sayable and visible.

But, as we know all too well, these processes take place within power relations that govern the contexts of learning and teaching themselves. The creation of a canon can also shut down emancipatory forms of knowledge, and unfortunately, the neoliberal economization of knowledge, always commodifies the commons of education, which belongs to everyone and should be a right for all. I am of course aware of my involvement in these processes as a teacher. Amid these circumstances and the struggles within and against them, I try to teach, do research, and learn every day as a radical-democratic teacher.

2. What drew you to your school, and what is your teaching philosophy?
I have been a professor of art education at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (HFBK) since October 2020. And I experience this art school as a place where many things are possible and artistic freedom is lived every day not only as freedom from intervention but also as freedom to act.

Among others, art education asks the question “What can art know?” This refers both to the production of knowledge and to the relationship between art and education. In this relationship, I am interested in the “and”—a word that marks connection and separation at the same time. I see this as the strength of art education discourses, practices, and outreach over the past thirty years: the ability to create spaces for action in which the respective inherent logics of art and education and their associated freedoms and emancipatory potentials can become effective while connections are made between them. These connections, according to their own logics, can sometimes be unexpected, strange, para-institutional, amazingly productive, and quite conflictual. This “and,” which is inherent in advanced art education, drives my teaching philosophy.

Read more of Nora Sternfeld’s Office Hours on School Watch.

Office Hours is a questionnaire series that gathers insights on teaching from artists. In response to ten prompts, educators reflect on the discourses and approaches that animate their teaching, share their visions for the future of art education, and offer advice for students navigating the field of contemporary art.

School Watch presents critical perspectives on art and academia. Featured profiles, surveys, and dialogues consider education in fine art, curating, and critical theory, as well as the ideas and conditions that influence practice.

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