Playing At School
Playing At School
2010 Lecture given at the Hayward and Serpentine Gallery deschooling society conference
You start at kindergarten,
learn social interaction,
give exhausted parents a break,
and help the economy.
Also we teach them authority, pyramid systems and other modes of status.
We teach them how the system works
We learn the transit system
We learn how to barter
How to loose our temper
How to manipulate people
By the time I arrive a secondary school
I knew everything I needed to know
I knew how things work
I knew what I was supposed to do
I knew how I was supposed to act
I think I have forgotten more things than I remember
I am not sure where I store knowledge
I am not sure how to find it
I am not qualified to be a teacher at art school
I am fully qualified to be a student
I don’t know anything for sure
I change my mind all the time
I prefer to be a student
I left my BA course in 1978
But I have never stopped being a student
How do we learn
I don’t know
How do I learn?
I look, listen, read, discuss,
make, borrow, steal, re-make
Look, listen, discuss, ignore, avoid,
look again, forget, remember,
understand and misunderstand.
Make, undo, deconstruct, break,
look at art, look at life, listen observe,
Re-look re-listen re-invent
Are we teaching people to work the system?
Art schools now
Are they failing, what does failing look like?
Are they succeeding ? What does succeeding look like?
Should we think more about failure than success
What is the student experience?
Colleges now are driven by different factors
Student satisfaction is high on the list, why ?
Should students be happy?
Are we running an art school or a therapy class
Is the point to get good grades
To be loved by everyone
To do well, or to be seen to do well
Are we making model citizens
Or rebellious troublemakers
Can one size fit all
Can you fail a successful system
Can you succeed in a failing system
Does all this matter
How many models or graphs can we generate
To explain something that cant be explained
Is it very complicated
Or is it very simple
The point is we need a place where we can learn
A place that is in flux
A place that can learn also
The learning model needs to learn, change and adapt
If for arguments sake we call this place a school
The school need to be able to change
To discover and then to constantly re-discover its core activity
We want to generate great art
Any kind of art
Looking at crap art is depressing
Looking at great art is exhilarating
So we need great art
Art school is where we learn how to experiment
Art school is part of the deschooling process
Foundation courses deschool and turn pupils in students
Art schools [should] continue this process
Allow students learn how to be a human being
I have a very soft spot for art school
I think it’s the best school in the world
I think artists are plugged into society unlike anyone else
Of course everyone can be an artist
Its just that not everyone is
The most important conversations
In art school happen in the corridor
In odd places
Seminars, discussions, lectures are ways of mobilizing and
They are beginnings
The students best teachers are students
Some notes on The experimental drawing class
I know many of you have researched this area thoroughly
or taught for a number of years
and I have to admit that I have done neither.
However I have read enough and talked enough
to realize that I have nothing new to offer.
Everything seems to me to have been done before.
my experience in art school on the faculty as been
I have been lucky on a number of occasions been allowed to play
For the past two years at Wimbledon
I have piloted a series of experimental drawing classes
and a series of speakeasy events
I have been working towards and experimenting
With the idea of a new art school,
but I changed my mind on that about a year ago,
I don’t want to make a new school
I think calling it a school limits its possibilities.
However a school does explain something
I am thinking of it as something somewhere
between a reading group and the Open University.
I first experimented with different versions of the existing structure; I eventually realized that to do this was just going to produce another version of what is already there.
So the next ideas was just to extract those things that I thought worked well and jettisoned those things that were not necessary or in the way.
How would the experimental drawing class operate?
Within The Experimental ArtSchool.
This is how I see it.
There will be different small groups or cells operating in different places.
There will be no centre. Projects will initially come out from the experimental drawing class commissioning various artists, designers, and writer’s musicians to design and organize projects. It will be their project.
Eventually each of the cells will begin to originate projects and these will flow back and forth between the groups.
I envisage that the class will join up all the arts.
I am sure that there are many ways that we learn,
I expect that we will experiment with different ways of learning
eventually as time goes on there will be many views and differences and arguments. Agreement is not something I would be looking to achieve.
Not having a permanent building is essential.
This is a non-exclusive project where groups can join many such projects,
it’s not like now where you sign up for Chelsea or the Slade and you are kept inside that camp. It’s a free association of learners. People who want to learn.
It has a have built in obsolescence.
The most important model for me is the Islington Mill Arts Academy,
based in Salford. They have invented their own academy.
Two years ago I went up to see them with Chloe Briggs,
we talked about how they began and how they operate,
eventually we asked them, how could we help.
They said challenge us, sets us projects.
The experimental artschool is my rather cumbersome reply to their question.