Dirty Practice Event 2018
Art School Today: Who cares?
Developing a culture of care within a disembodied institution
Short Residency and Symposium
Wolverhampton School of Art
25-29 June 2018.
Fine Art programmes have been increasingly embedded into large HE providers and forced to operate on restricted, generic, fragmented teaching models shaped by managerialism. As result, a division of services prevent students and staff from developing a meaningful relationship to the course and subject. Responding to an intensified economic crisis and academic demands around success, ‘clamorous individualism’ seems to eclipse any consideration for community, the other or one’s own well-being. Indeed, the ‘academic turn’ in art education since the 1980s (Elkins, 2018, X) correlates with a putative lack and inability to think and talk together: ‘Splitting up of institutions, courses into modules, showing a lack of communication, link, institutional structures that do not allow any identification, nor do they have often a direct personal line for communication for reasons of efficiency’ (Isaacs, 1999).
This ‘high performance culture’ within the current educational system effaces any sense of care or ‘indebtedness’ to the other, yet this seems essential within art education. As curator Jan Verwoert argues: ‘To practice a politics of dedication and recognise an indebtedness to the other as the condition of your own ability to perform means to acknowledge the importance of care’ (2007, 99).
In this context we define the need and notion of ‘care’ as a value often marginalised in the institutional debate, but essential to the long-term and sustained maintenance of a person, place or object. The verb ‘to care’ implies a level of altruism, a way of being in the institution that is intrinsically different to the ‘clamorous individualism’ and neo-liberal economic agenda. Care then, as has been argued, shows the potential to ‘overrule’ the economic demands (Verwoert 2017,99).