deschooling.classroom(o^o)

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collective self-education in the arts and culture…

DESCHOOLING CLASSROOM :: basic info

Deschooling Classroom [Self-education in the arts and culture] is a project that addresses the contemporary independent cultural scenes in the region, melanoma researching and offering an alternative to the hierarchical models of education in the art and culture. Methodologically, the project moves away from the concepts of individual authorship and expertise, and advocates open collective educational structures where self-organised communities facilitate horizontal production, exchange and distribution of knowledge.

The project is organised by TkH (Walking Theory) platform for performing arts theory and practice from Belgrade (http://tkh-generator.net) in partnership with Kontrapunkt, from Skopje (http://kontrapunkt-mk.org).

Its specific objectives are:

  • to raise the awareness of potentialities of self-education, and to develop methodologies for alternative education in contemporary art and culture;
  • to offer studying new and hybrid fields of contemporary culture and art and to help sharing the critical knowledge among art and cultural practitioners;
  • to stimulate collaboration among those who aim to intervene in the existing cultural system;
  • to challenge the conceptual and infra-structural set-up of cultural institutions; and
  • to create new supporting infrastructures for the independent cultural scenes.

The project builds upon international trends of alternative educational culture that appeared in late 20th century in the context of post-Fordist capitalist societies. The wide ranging initiatives try to critically reflect the mainstream education and to find various alternatives, more appropriate to the new social conditions and increased importance of the service industry. Our project is concentrated on independent cultural scenes in the age of transition in the Balkans, where self-organisation and self-education are necessary for the actors to act critically and to be socially relevant and engaged. Its theoretical background is contemporary critical theory, and some of the main references are: Jacques Rancier’s reflections from Ignorant Schoolmaster, Jean-Luc Nancy’s theses on collaboration and belonging, and Ivan Illich’s radical thoughts from Deschooling Society.

Programme of the project runs through two “vectors”:

  1. Content – the programme is orientated toward critical, inter-disciplinary, hybrid knowledge in the field of contemporary art and culture; wherein possible topics include: Curatorial practices in visual and non-visual arts, Interdisciplinary dramaturgy; Free software and digital technology; Inter-medial artistic production, etc;
  2. Methodology – various forms of research and learning about skills and principles of self-organisation and self-education will be organised, e.g. workshops about facilitation, practical advices for running an NGO, discussions about models of decision making processes and about non-hierarchical group work, etc.

In terms of activities, the project is organised in two cycles through which each “generation” will go through the process of collective self-education. Each generation consists of 3-4 working groups gathered around common themes in the above mentioned fields. All the groups have regional character and include 6-8 members from both Belgrade and Skopje. They will participate in following programmes:

  • Open Week is 3-day event, consisting of workshops, lectures and presentations, whose aim is to attract attention and raise awareness about self-education – therefore these will be open to the general public. The open weeks will be organised in Belgrade in 2009 and in Skopje in 2010, and they are departing points for each generation.
  • Incubator comprises a long-term (6 months) collaborative work of the working groups. Their curricula will be designed by the participants, and include a continual self-educational process of the groups in Belgrade and Skopje via video link, and programmes facilitated by invited guest lecturers every month.
  • Summer School is intense one-week educational event, held once per cycle/year. It is created by the participants of all groups from one generation, for themselves and also for the others interested in the topics, especially those from the region. The summer schools will be organised in Ohrid in 2009 and in 2010 probably in Montenegro (will be decided afterwards).
  • Timeshare Campus is accommodation/work structure that facilitates the collaboration between the participants during the time of preparing collective cultural productions with which each cycle is finalised. Two apartments in Skopje and Belgrade will be rented and made available to the groups in the period of two months. The collaborative products can be e.g. video, fanzine, installation, web site, etc. They will be publicly presented in the region afterwards.
  • The project will end with the production of a Toolbox. It includes a Handbook on self-education, written by the participants, organisers, and guests/lecturers. Also, we will make a documentary film, which presents the project and its potential for application in other contexts. The Toolbox will be publicly presented locally and regionally, aiming to obtain visibility and to impact other regional scenes.

I.e. the context of dominancy of immaterial labour, so called “cognitive capitalism”. See more in: Paolo Virno, Grammar of the Multitude; For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life (2004), New York: Semiotext(e).

Jacques Ranciere: The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation (1991), Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Illich, Deschooling Society (1971), London: Marion Boyars, available at http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html.

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