Page Text

creation of new departmental rigour and direction. The Vidokle model has binned the idea of integration and accommodation in favour of shifting a sense of engagement with educational structures – rapidly and completely – via the creation of new layers of interaction. This does not replace what exists; it supplements and problematises the way developed art education is organised and expressed. Whether we are operating in a period where the alternative education structure begins to take over the dynamic terrain of educational ‘production’, in the same way that autonomous independent art initiatives have done in relation to established exhibiting institutions, remains to be seen. Whatever happens, we know that some have already opted to skip the standard trajectory of art education in favour of a contingent, implicated model where modes of assessment and potential are freely negotiated within a new quaternary level of activity. ❚

LIAMGILLICK is an artist and adjunct assistant professor, Columbia University,New York.

John Reardon

■ Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes isa book of interviews with artists who teach. I don’t mean a definitive collection of interviews or anything, more something that’s okay for now, that’s adequate. When I began this book I had an idea that teaching was the thing for me. That was about two years ago or about the same time as I asked Michael Craig-Martin whether he’d agree to do an interview with me. I was interested to talk to him because when you teach art the assumption is often made that you know how to teach art and if you don’t then you kind of pick it up. Thomas Bayrle, who taught at the Stäädelschule for close to 30 years, says: ‘... when I started teaching I quickly found out that I’m not the guy who knows it. All my colleagues were using another method – they knew something – and it was as though they stood there and gave this out to students and I was the only one who was in the wind. The result of this was that the students decided, “OK if he doesn’t do it then we have to do it ourselves”. But then I discovered that this was actually wonderful because while other professors deliberately tried to make them take such a position, in my class it happened because they thought, “OK he’s a kind of yeastlike thing that doesn’t have a lot of mass”.’ The interview with Craig-Martin went really well and things kind of went on from there; 32 interviews followed one another over the next two years – and while this left me less sure about the value of things like teaching art, fine art departments and art education, it left me more sure that a lot of good work is done by people not so convinced by things. The interviews took place mostly with artists teach

ing in the UK and Germany, or with a small number of artists teaching elsewhere in Europe in a system of education based on one of these two models. The interviews are about human endeavour and human folly as much as they’re about education or art. They provide a glimpse into the world of teaching as well as the individual character and anxieties of the teacher and his or her attempts to survive within the world of art education or merely survive the world of art education, perhaps survive what Jon Thompson calls the ‘mechanisms of surveillance and control’ which made him so unhappy at Middlesex. Thompson says‘... I know how to operate as a teacher, I don’t need to be told. I’ve been doing it for God knows how many years – 40 years or so I think – and then there are all these rules and regulations: you have tosee students whether it’s useful to them or not. You can say the right thing to a student 50 times but if it’s not the right time you might as well forget about it, it’s no use.’ Walter Dahn, who teaches at the Hochschule füür Bildende Küünste in Braunschweig, takes up Thompson’s concerns and talks about how he approaches teaching in a way that allows for the out-of-hours tutorial and says something about the German Klassen system. Dahn talks about his students as a collective and says ‘we try to be as autonomous as possible and I try to find the niches where things are still possible beyond rules and regulations. Work that I have to do in the school is only what is absolutely necessary in this context. Most of the time, or the whole time, I try to be with the students.’ Karin Sander, who teaches at the Eidgenöössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), Züürich, supports Dahn when she talks about the mobility of the Klassen system: ‘In the academy – in any kind of institution – whatever you do every day has certain rules or rhythms to it, and to break these rhythms is very important to your art practice.’ Sander would regularly teach from her studio and says: ‘All the conversations and discussions I have had with the students here around this table have a totally different concentration than up at the academy.’ One of a number of conversations that cut across these interviews seems to be about what I would describe as a kind of intensity, and how this is present or not in an art school, how it is recognised, named, nurtured ordestroyed. The implication seems to be that an over-administered space is a space of less intensity and less creativity. Liam Gillick and Michael Corris are, I think, among someof the voices who come and go in this conversation. Gillick, for example, talks about when he was a student at art school and says: ‘there was clearly still the legacy of trying to retain the feeling that it was a student-centred enterprise [...] though what’s happened over time is that as one gets further and further away from the political dynamic that changed those hierarchies, and changed those power structures, the staff themselves have become less proactive and offer less. So you have a system that still exists which is student-centred and student-orientated yet strangely the structuring of the way it’s done doesn’t put enough obligation – and I’m not talking about this in terms of administration

10.08/ ARTMONTHLY /320