Education from Below. Art as a site for learning

Education from Below is a two-year collaborative programme organised between the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, MACBA, Barcelona and WHW, Zagreb.

Education from Below (EfB) explores art is a place for dialogue, collective learning and imagination. Education doesn't belong only in institutions, but it can be horizontal and come from below, from communities. The project recognises that art practices can dislocate the usual hierarchies of what should or should not be learned and traditional divisions between theory and practice, and that knowledge does not have to be based on accumulation, but rather on sharing and mutual learning. The partners will explore new models of art practice based on collective learning and will generate a network of institutions and professionals for sharing methodologies. Threads of investigation through the project include:

Institutional imagination and experimental mediation:
Activating collective thinking about possible new models for artistic institutions; ones that are more socially engaged, more aware of the ecological collapse, more flexible and porous. Slow institutions, feminist and queer assemblies, spaces for the common are examples of what we can imagine for the future from institutions of the past.

Art as social practice:
Art that is centred on and through human interaction, engagement and social discourse. The creation of social change through collaboration between individuals, communities, and institutions in creative processes. EfB will test and share ways of embedding social interaction more centrally in the work of the partners.

Collective learning:
Exploring collectivity as a crucial element in learning processes, looking at historical and innovative forms of radical education, and shared utilizations of public resources, action and experiments. The spaces of academia and the gallery can be used as pedagogical sites devoted to the analysis of artistic forms interconnected with actual or desired social relations.

Non-hierarchical education:
Informed by informal pedagogical traditions that have roots in a critique of enlightenment as practices of liberation, EfB questions fixed categories in education, as well as the idea of learning as an accumulation of knowledge or for the preparation of professionals, challenging the hierarchies of what can or cannot be learned and where. Learning from popular education and epistemologies of the South are crucial to these practices.

EfB links three independent programmes for artists, Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, PEI at MACBA, and WHW Academija that each provide important opportunities for artistic development outside of formal education systems. The project will be realized over the course of autumn 2019 – autumn 2021 through seminars, study groups, artist residencies, exhibitions, series of lectures, an international conference, a collective reader and a common web platform, involving many artists, thinkers and educators.