fredag, september 14, 2007

Who Is Friends With Paolo Freire?

Artist Jee-Eun Kim invites you to a discussion on collaborative knowledge production within contemporary art and presentation of project HOMEWORK.


Introduction text:

The title HOMEWORK suggests various levels of meaning. First, there is the literal usage of the word “homework,” a school assignment to be done at “home” in order to practice ones’ understanding of the subject learned. Second, the words HOME and WORK, are spaces antithetical to each other. Related to this is the relationship of work done at home, which has often been devalued or illegitimated compared to work done in a public workplace.

HOMEWORK is an artist project based on different processes, where each “homework” is a self-initiated assignment to practice our continuous engagement (collective and individual) with notions of the “political.” Contesting the purported neutrality of education, we aim to examine and engage in alternative pedagogical models to understand a larger context, learn to think from within the confronted problem (assignments), and to develop creative responses.

HOMEWORK attempts to construct a knowledge colony whose members serve as both teachers and students, where each participant conducts and applies various research models to understand better the idea of the “political” and what it means to be a politically engaged cultural producer. We choose to use a vocabulary endemic to education to contextualize our focus on process without a pre-determined product. Underlying the project is an indirect call for analyzing institutional settings as necessary prescribed spaces for freedom of thought. We try to explore the potential for these spaces to breed critical thinking and a more radical exchange of knowledge.

The rise of constricting political climates affects all sectors of society, and cultural producers have a specific obligation to address what is being produced, discussed and censored in the arts and in society as a whole. What does the “political” mean then in the context of the visual arts?

As a group HOMEWORK has chosen to focus on pedagogical art practices— works and situations that employ strategies common to educational settings and dialogical exchange. We understand these projects as inherently political because they call for a different relationship between the artwork, the artist and the audience and create alternative social exchanges from within the art institution. Similarly, these practices often reach outside that institution for their source material and audience.

This belief led us to look at different pedagogical strategies used by artists, to create a program of learning and producing knowledge whose nexus is criticality rather than a subscription to any dogmatic paradigm. We were interested in examining the emergence of alternative educational programs and groups, artists using pedagogical methods in informal ways, as well as artist collectives who create spaces for "educational" exchanges that attempt to apply democratic methods of communication—and put this into practice for ourselves. The resultant projects were a series of texts, events and exhibitions that occurred in June 2007 under the rubric of PS122 Gallery in New York City.

The crux of these projects was determined after collectively reading and discussing some of Paulo Freire’s writing on pedagogy. Freire’s theories, developed in the 1970s, link education to social change through strategies such as dialogical action, developing transformative consciousness, praxis, and the rejection of the traditional "banking" model of education with the aim to "liberate the oppressed" (1). HOMEWORK used these ideas as a springboard to explore the application of Freire’s radical thinking on artistic practices by posing the question: How do you re-enact Paulo Freire’s pedagogy today?

HOMEWORK’s own collective response to this question manifested in three separate but interrelated projects: The program “SUMMER SCHOOL”, the exhibition “Everybody is Friends with Paulo Freire” and a special issue of the webzine

At MFK, Jeuno JE Kim will screen videos that were involved in the project, followed by a short presentation of the exhibition that took place in New York. Framing the event is a focus on the notion of transformative educational model, proposed by Brazilian philosopher and pedagogue Paolo Freire, and how his pedagogical processes, seen in the context of art education, can further the development of critical consciousness.

The discussion continues on Sunday 23rd of September at 11am, with a writing workshop that will focus on reading shorter passages from Freire, and a trip down the memory lane where participants are encouraged to write and to read aloud memorable incidences or moments where a crucial “learning” has occurred.

Jeuno JE Kim

(1) Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Continuum Ed., 2007