Knowledge politics, transgressive pedagogies, and political imagination in contemporary art and education A symposium within the framework of Undisciplinary Learning. Remapping The Aesthetics of Resistance: Knowledges
With Feminist health care research group Berlin, Claudia Firth, Stine Marie Jacobsen, Rajkamal Kahlon, Ferdiansyah Thajib / Kunci Cultural Studies Center, Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor
And works by Luis Berríos-Negrón, Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro & Anaïs Héraud-Louisadat (Squat Monument), Ha Za Vu Zu, Naomi Hennig, Stine Marie Jacobsen, Vladan Jeremić & Rena Raedle & Ina Wudtke, Rajkamal Kahlon, Frida Klingberg, Ins A Kromminga & Jannik Franzen, KUNCI Cultural Studies Center, Julia Lazarus, Achim Lengerer, Method Fund, Gabriel Rossell Santillán, RYBN.ORG, Lerato Shadi, Andreas Wutz. In a scenography by Luis Berríos-Negrón
Curated by Janine Halka, Suza Husse, Julia Lazarus
13. November 2016, 14 – 20 h
What could an aesthetic education of the present be? Which forms of un_learning does the art of the 21st century suggest? How do we live and create knowledge? Where do we find it? Whose knowledge, whose aesthetics, whose present, whose we?
Undisciplinary Learning is an art project manifesting in an interdisciplinary program of exhibitions, workshops, performances, and urban interventions that takes Peter Weiss’ novel The Aesthetics of Resistance as an impetus to question the current politics of knowledge at the intersection of artistic, political, and pedagogical practices. Adopting an intersectional perspective on its historical expansion, its urban resonances in Berlin, and current fields of insurgency, Undisciplinary Learning suggests expanded readings and critical relocations of The Aesthetics of Resistance.
The day-long symposium on 13 November concludes the program section Undisciplinary Learning: KNOWLEDGES, which focuses on self-empowering pedagogies, especially from feminist, queer, leftist, anti-racist, and decolonial contexts and renegotiates institutional epicenters of western education and science such as schools, research institutions, or museums. “SCHULINSEL SCHARFENBERG” Sorry but here it’s a mess… Empowerment departs from a historical site of progressive education in Berlin: the Scharfenberg school situated on an island in the lake Tegeler See in the northwest of Berlin. This boys’ boarding school, which from 1922 to 1934 represented one of the three major schooling experiments of the time in Berlin, gains peripheral mention in The Aesthetics of Resistance as it is one of the institutions of worker’s education in the early 20th century. Until the national socialists came into power in 1933, Scharfenberg was a progressive school farm based on the collective development of curricula by students and teachers, an economy based on self-subsistence through farming that allowed for inclusive admission politics, flexible class structures comprising different age groups, and exchanges with other alternative education practitioners and institutions in Germany and Europe.
With a desire to re-think and co-investigate the “school” “teaching machine,” based on an understanding of education as a mode of political imagination and a field of experimentation, the symposium initiates a platform for approaches that might be understood within the context of the so-called “educational turn” (Irit Rogoff) in contemporary art, in which an urgent need for freedom in education, for new forms of collectivism and for alternative learning structures has found its expression. Gathering artists, activists, theorists, and educators to exchange strategies, processes, and methods of anti-hegemonic knowledge transfer and empowerment in art and education, the symposium unfolds in three experimental settings placed within the exhibition at District:
Collective readings in knowledge politics, transgressive pedagogies, and political imagination
The collective readings open a space for conversation based on the specific artistic and activist educational practices embodied and investigated by Claudia Firth, Stine Marie Jacobsen, and Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor. The three readers will introduce their practice and research in relation to specific works in the exhibition Undisciplinary Learning. Remapping The Aesthetics of Resistance: SPACE and thus facilitate reflection, connection and critique on the herein presented aesthetics and languages, in which contemporary relations of emancipatory pedagogy, artistic practice, and political resistance can be experienced and reflected.
Claudia Firth is a researcher, writer, educator, and activist with an interest in art and politics, technology and the body, and the crossovers and tensions between image and text. She is currently developing her PhD project that involves writing a non-linear history inspired by Peter Weiss’ Aesthetics of Resistance. In the work of Stine Marie Jacobsen mediation as a generic form of artistic practice and the testing of new strategies of participation as co-production are recurring points of reference. Her current installation at Undisciplinary Learning is a part of the ongoing art project Mann beißt Hund, in which she interweaves conceptual, filmic, and pedagogical strategies within specific settings together with activists, lawyers, and students. Jacobsen founded the platform Artists’ Exercises (æ) for sharing and distributing artistic educational strategies. Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor is a theater practitioner and activist for social justice. Her practice revolves around performance, text, dialogue, dance, and community building for People of Color. Her work centers on themes of ritual, visibility, and identity mythology. She is chiefly concerned with ways to dismantle oppressive institutions and the creation of racial equity in art and theater. Currently, Taylor hosts and moderates the monthly discursive salon style series Black in Berlin and is the 2016/2017 studio grant artist at District.
Outside in the Teaching Machine: Exercises and conversations
Named after the Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s book of the same title, the exercises and conversations in the format Outside in the Teaching Machine introduce alternative methodologies of knowledge production within and beyond artistic practices. Together with the Feminist health care research group Berlin, Rajkamal Kahlon, and Ferdiansyah Thajib / Kunci Cultural Studies Center the responsibility / ability to respond within learning and teaching is explored as a form of co-investigation in relation to the politics of the body and care, to history and solidarity, and to sustainability and togetherness as modes of emancipatory co-education.
The Feminist health care research group Berlin (Alice Münch, Julia Bonn, Inga Zimprich) are a group of women* artists, who aim to develop independent and feminist perspectives on the broad field of health, wellbeing, our bodies, disease, and care. During their exercise they will question what teaching is concealed within the teaching machine: On the bases of feminist scientific critique we analyze internalized concepts of knowledge with regard to separateness of body, knowledge, biography, and experience. Rajkamal Kahlon works with the visual material of colonialism. Through the use of anarchist humor and critical aesthetics, her practice interrupts and rewrites the original pedagogical function of European media images representing formerly colonized subjects. The result is a dialogue between past and present imperial images and geo-political ambitions. She will present bell hook's Teaching to Transgress and speak about its influence on her practice as an artist and educator. KUNCI Cultural Studies Center is a collective that is deeply preoccupied with critical knowledge production and sharing through means of media publication, cross-disciplinary encounter, research-action, artistic intervention, and vernacular education within and across community spaces. Ferdiansyah Thajib will introduce methods and reflections in relation to the emerging KUNCI School of Improper Education, an experiment on the sustainability of (material and immaterial) economy of organizations. With this project KUNCI wants to test the idea of school as a garden of ideas, a laboratory of affects, and a space where new ideas clash and coalesce.
Doors and exhibition open from 13 h
Child care available 13.30 – 19.30 h*
All formats in English
“SCHULINSEL SCHARFENBERG” Sorry but here it’s a mess… Empowerment.
Welcome and introductions by Janine Halka, Suza Husse, Julia Lazarus, Frederik Luszeit and Eva Storms
14.30 – 16 h
Collective readings in knowledge politics, transgressive pedagogies, and political imagination
Critical walks through the exhibition Undisciplinary Learning. Remapping The Aesthetics of Resistance: SPACE in three groups with the readers Claudia Firth, Stine Marie Jacobsen, Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor
16.30 – 18.30 h
Outside in the Teaching Machine: Exercises and conversations in three groups with
Feminist health care group Berlin**, Rajkamal Kahlon, Ferdiansyah Thajib / Kunci Cultural Studies Center
18.30 – 19.30 h
Outside in the Teaching Machine: Closing discussion with the participants and all people of the day
*We can offer childcare for those who would like to attend with children. If you do, please let us know by Friday 11th of November by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
** For the exercises with the Feminist health care group Berlin please bring a yoga mat and/or a blanket if you can.
Feminist health care research group Berlin (Alice Münch, Julia Bonn, Inga Zimprich)
We are a group of women* artists that meets on a weekly bases at Heilehaus in Berlin. As a feminist research group we aim to develop self-empowering feminist perspectives on health and wellbeing, our bodies, disease and care. Within our group we negotiate how we gather and share knowledge collectively and we allow this learning process to change our lives. We work by visiting and learning from initiatives, groups and institutions, who have developed alternatives in health care, and by exploring methods and exercises within the group. We publish our research in zines and we develop workshops for cultural workers on our research topics. Our recent research focus was on feminist therapy and the health care movement in Kreuzberg, which was particularly strong during the 1980ies as part of the women's movement and squatting scene. Recently we have also done health care movement radio.
During our exercise as part of Outside in the Teaching Machine we will look at the internalized idea of knowledge that we acquire in the traditional teaching machine: On the bases of feminist scientific critique we would like to ask how we internalize that our bodies, our experience, our feelings are seperate from our knowledge, that the only acceptable knowledge is white, objective, rational and neutral (to be continued ...). We would like to speak about experiences that taught us this, and exchange on strategies how to take all our knowledges into our self-empowered hands.
Claudia is a researcher, writer, educator and activist with an interest in art and politics, technology and the body and the crossovers and tensions between image and text. She has a background in visual arts practice and cultural theory. She is a regular contributor, editor and founding member of Nyx, the Journal for the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London and an experienced educator, teaching and running workshops in a variety of educational and community settings. Claudia is also a member of a cultural activist collective and has recently become active in London housing politics. In particular she is involved with the Radical Housing Network and Co-ops for London, putting together a report to promote housing co-operatives, in response to the housing crisis in London. She has been a co-op resident for ten years.
Claudia’s contribution to the Collective readings in knowledge politics, transgressive pedagogies, and political imagination will be based on her experiences and investigations of reading groups as political educational spaces and on her PhD project in Critical and Cultural Studies that involves writing a non linear history inspired by Peter Weiss’ Aesthetics of Resistance at the Department of English and Humanities at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is currently cowriting The Force of Listening, a new publication looking at the role of listening in contemporary conjunctions between art and activism, which will be published as part of the Doormats series by Errant Bodies Press.
Stine Marie Jacobsen
The multidisciplinary practice of Berlin based artist Stine Marie Jacobsen exercise embraces performance, video, photography and text. Mediation as a generic form of artistic practice and the testing of new strategies of participation as co-production are recurring points of reference in her work. Jacobsen’s “reading” within the Collective readings in knowledge politics, transgressive pedagogies, and political imagination takes departure from her installation Man Bites Dog: Law repair shop at the Undisciplinary Learning. Remapping The Aesthetics of Resistance exhibition. The installation results from a collaboration between the artist and District with students from the trade school OS Z Handel Berlin, in which the group deconstructed existing laws regarding freedom of expression, equality, and anti-discrimination. Her ongoing art project Mann beißt Hund (Man bites Dog, since 2015), in which she interweaves conceptual, filmic, and pedagogical strategies within specific settings together with activists, lawyers, and students.
Jacobsen founded Artists’ Exercises (æ), a platform for sharing and distributing fragments of artists’ educational strategies. With contributions from over fifty international artists, the platform facilitates new ways and ideas of teaching for artists and educators. Artists’ Exercises encourages and offers a framework in which artists can share their practice for others to use, sample, re-develop, and apply to their own teaching. The exercises provide re-produceable activities that might migrate through this platform to new contexts of action and knowledge production.
Rajkamal Kahlon works with the visual material of colonialism, reflecting on the violence created by the aftermath of ‘The War on Terror’. Through the use of anarchist humor and critical aesthetics, her practice emancipates the meaning of texts and images created by regimes of power. While insisting on the centrality of the body in the experience of oppression, her work addresses the act of viewing as both complicit with and preceding the production of violence. In her exercise at Outside in the Teaching Machine she will relate to her works from the series Double Take and Blowback that are exhibited at Undisciplinary Learning. Remapping The Aesthetics of Resistance and present bell hook's Teaching to Transgress to speak about its influence on her practice as an artist and educator.
Double Take is an ongoing series of water color portraits and altered 19th and 20th century engravings— found in illustrated newspapers, books, ethnographic and studio photography—that interrupt and rewrite the original pedagogical function of European media images representing formerly colonized subjects. The result is a dialogue between past and present imperial images and geo-political ambitions. ‘Blowback’ is a CIA term for the unintended consequences of covert operations against foreign nations and governments. Kahlon borrows the metaphor to explore the uncanny relationship between early anthropological portraiture and acts of political retaliation labeled as terrorism today. Offering new forms of poetic resistance, Kahlon’s works aim restoring the dignity of those people whose haunting and anonymous images are still entangled within European imperial archives.
KUNCI Cultural Studies Center
KUNCI Cultural Studies Center is a collective founded in 1999 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, that is deeply preoccupied with critical knowledge production and sharing through means of media publication, cross-disciplinary encounter, research-action, artistic intervention, and vernacular education within and across community spaces. KUNCI Cultural Studies Center inhabits a precarious position of belonging to neither this nor that within existing disciplinary boundaries while aiming at expanding them. The collective’s membership is open and voluntary, and is so far based on an affinity to creative experimentation and speculative inquiry with focus on intersections between theory and practice.
In the KUNCI exercise at Outside in the Teaching Machine Ferdiansyah Thajib will introduce methods and reflections that relate to the collective’s current building of the KUNCI School of Improper Education: This new school is an experiment on the sustainability of (material and immaterial) economy of organizations. We want to test the idea of school as a garden of ideas, a laboratory of affects, and a space where new ideas clash and coalesce. We are not yet sure about what can be learned in this school. We want to study together, while interrogating the meaning of togetherness. While our bodies are entrenched with histories and memories shaped by formal educational institutions, we start from the question: what does an improper education mean? We want to problematize the hierarchical relations between teacher and student. We aim to unpack the homogenizing tendencies of pedagogical principles upon the body and mind. We would like to vitiate the emphasis of curricular desires around use value. Is it enough to describe one’s own practice as an alternative education? How to operate a study environment without turning knowledge into a commodity?
Working Team: Antariksa (Co-founding member), Brigitta Isabella (Member), Nuraini Juliastuti (Co-founding member), Syafiatudina (Member), Ferdiansyah Thajib (Member), Wok The Rock (Web Admin), Hayyu Al Qoyyumi (Library), Verry Handayani (Finance)
Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor
Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor is a theater practitioner and activist for social justice. She is the current studio grant artist at District. Her practice revolves around performance, text, dialogue, dance and community building for People of Color. Her work centers on themes of ritual, visibility and identity mythology. She is chiefly concerned with ways to dismantle oppressive institutions and the creation of racial equity in art and theater. She strives to address race politics as a performer, maker and artist.
Her contribution to the Collective readings in knowledge politics, transgressive pedagogies, and political imagination is based on her practice of hosting and moderating the monthly discursive salon style series Black in Berlin. The series began in 2012 as a reaction to the appropriation of Afropean, African and Black culture by the German, English-language mainstream media. Taylor was disturbed at the paradoxical situation of representing an entire community and the inherent alienation of being the “other.” In 2016 the series was expanded and now serves as an opportunity to dialogue issues on race relations, foster community and generate conversation. Taylor’s Black in Berlin doesn’t focus on a singular oppressive institution like racism but takes an intersectional stance to see how racism, sexism, homophobia, classism are interconnected. The title Black in Berlin is a reference to the double entendre of the German word 'schwarz', often used to describe something negative. Themes in the past have included: The Afropean Experience, Performed Identities and The Politics of Community.