Site-specific Intervention within Art Education Institutions

Joshua Y’Barbo, CCW PhD student operating the Chelsea Salon Series with Laura Carew, asks, what insights might pedagogical art practices generate through site-specific intervention within art education institutions?

‘My practice-led research intersects socially engaged art practices, critical pedagogy and institutional critique through the exploration of site-specific interventions into art’s educational institutions. The interventions are  informed by site-specificity in institutional critique and explore Pablo Helguera’s concepts of transpedagogy, which refers to “projects by artists and collectives where pedagogical process is the core of the artwork” (Helguera, 2011, p.77).

‘My critique is of art education institutions as a site where revisions in the production and display of art are made. According to Andrea Fraser, institutional critique evaluates these sites through critically reflexive site-specificity. Site-specificity does not refer only to physical spaces, but also to space for relationships, processes, rituals and discourses in which structures of power are performed and reproduced (Rottmann, 2008).

‘My research is informed by critical and feminist pedagogy in an attempt to question hierarchies and structures of power within education. Site-specific intervention in my research challenges the framework of art education institutions through methods developed within institutional critique. According to Fraser (2005), the site of intervention within the institution includes ‘our relations to that site and the social conditions of those relations’.

‘My practice and research interests developed alongside and through the Chelsea Salon series. The Chelsea Salon series is an ongoing project that combines Grzegorz Kowalski’s use of the architectural theory of open form as a teaching method with Helguera’s ideas of para-institutions. Claire Bishop (2012) explains open form as students engaged in “open-ended tasks that function as a form of collective analysis” (Bishop, 2012, p.257). According to Helguera (2009), para-institutions refer to “the idea that one could build up parallel institutions, working institutions, that do propose and show in its operation other working systems, being a temporary frame of action where art enters as the self-reflective, self-critical, tool while it is simultaneously being conceived and happening, a para-institution that sees itself from the outside, from the spectator’s point of view” (Helguera, 2009). The Chelsea Salon series and my research combine these concepts in an attempt to refine understanding of the changes produced by, and happening in, higher education in art and design. These are the aims taken from the brief for the project Not Knowing: CCW / APG / Chelsea Salon. The project was developed by David Cross and myself with Barbara Steveni and the 2013-2014 MA Fine Art students at Chelsea College of Arts, London, UK.’

Visit Chelsea Salon series for more information about past, present and future salons, talks, screenings and tours.

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