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June 10, 2022

School Watch: The Medium is the Method: Activating Education as Experimental Art Practice with LA ESCUELA___

Art & Education

Augusto Boal, Theater of the Oppressed workshop in Paris, 1975. Courtesy Acervo Cedoc/Funarte.

Cecilia Vicuña, Homenaje a Vietnam (Homage to Vietnam), 1977. Children’s workshop at Galería Gilberto Alzate Avendaño, Bogotá. Courtesy Cecilia Vicuña.

Miguel Braceli, Monumentos horizontales (Horizontal Monuments), 2020. Intervention, Guadalajara. Courtesy Miguel Braceli.

Helio Eichbauer teaching a class on Piet Mondrian in the garden of Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro. Courtesy Acervo Helio Eichbauer.

“Giro y realce de triple cortejo sobre volutas” (“Twist and enhance tripe courtship on volutes”) tournament at Ciudad Abierta, 1975. Courtesy Archivo histórico José Vial Armstrong, Escuela de Arquitectura y Diseño, Pontficia Universidad Católica de Valparaiso.

Diego Barboza, La Caja del Cachicamo (The Armadillo Box), 1974. Courtesy Diego Barboza Foundation.

The Medium is the Method: Activating Education as Experimental Art Practice with LA ESCUELA___
with Miguel Braceli and Sofía Olascoaga

Sofía: Before this conversation, I’ve been observing LA ESCUELA____’s social media and virtual platform, where your essay “The Naked School” positions amazement and disappointment as opposite ends of a range in which the possibilities of experimentation may fall. The essay articulates and proposes an educational space that is able to support in a lively, non-homogenizing way a “proposal of a building without walls which aims to bring artistic production closer to the social and political contexts that surround them.”

Miguel: This idea is at the core of LA ESCUELA___: to bring education closer to the social and political realities of specific contexts and to learn from and act on them. “The Naked School” emerged as a critique of my experience as an MFA student in the United States and questions a model that is focused on white-cube galleries and replicating the institutional market-driven dynamics of the art world. The Naked School, the school without walls, derives from the legacy of art and education practices in Latin America. It could be a building in Ciudad Abierta (Open City); a performance at the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella (Torcuato Di Tella Institute); a party at the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage (Parque Lage School of Visual Arts); a school founded by Francisco Toledo; a class taught by Lygia Clark; or any number of artist projects that have sought new experimental spaces and places for education.

LA ESCUELA___ was intended as an artist-run platform that seeks to make learning a collective practice in public space. It is not a traditional school offering instructional classes but rather a space for radical experimentation where creators, universities, students, institutions, and communities assemble around the possibilities of art as education. This occurs through the development of collaborative “formative projects”—performances and interventions, among other manifestations—that create learning spaces in public as art practice. These pedagogical approaches are also addressed through researched editorials and online and on-site public programs. The platform is now realized as an open space where all programs are free in order to engage different publics and defend free access to education.

Sofía: So, we could think of the digital platform as a building in which voices, references, examples, proposals, and practices come together into what I imagine is a polyvocal and ongoing conversation.

How do the diverse, transgenerational, and translocal voices in this ensemble communicate with each other? More than a compendium or a delimited set of references, I am thinking of each dialogue as a collection of progressive, resonant, interwoven, and also (perhaps, hopefully) discordant perspectives. Conversation might originate in not one but several dissimilar, diverse, particular, situated, contradictory, and above all, lively contexts from which each conversationalist speaks.

Miguel: Conversation is the basis of LA ESCUELA___’s different spaces and programs because communication is inherent to education and the platform is a collaborative project to think about and activate experimental schools. The platform’s architecture appropriates the organizational structure of a traditional school but expands its limits and subverts its logics and dynamics.

Read more about LA ESCUELA____ on School Watch.

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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