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Shadow Academy. Is the current curriculum of the art academy sufficient to cope with reality?

Shadow Academy. Is the current curriculum of the art academy sufficient to cope with reality?

The curriculum of most art academies is, after all, dominated by teaching media related competences: the art of painting, drawing and sculpture, of design, performance, photography or video. But if an artist or designer wants to break through the bounds of his medium in order to be able to communicate with non-art domains he may need to stock his toolbox with some alternative content as well.

Does the current curriculum of the art academy provide sufficient means to cope with reality? The educational plan of most art academies is, after all, dominated by teaching media related competences: the art of painting, drawing and sculpture, of design, performance, photography or film/video, etc. These competences are inscribed in specific networks of art-historical and art-theoretical discourses, which are also, to a greater or lesser degree, objects of study and reflection within the art academy. At the same time, the outcome of all this learning is inevitably connected to a broader and more complex social reality, assuming of course that artistic practises aim at being part of the world, at being visible in the world. Then, the question arises if the traditional tools, skills and knowledge offered by the art academy are sufficient equipment to take possession of contemporary reality. But then, what is required? And could or should the art academy actually be considered as a site for transdisciplinary activities? As we all know, in the end, every artist, depending on the focus of his practise, develops his own particular knowledge, tool box and methodology which he will then use to break through the bounds of his medium and expand art related discourses in order to be able to communicate and enter the world. Each art practise implies a specific “shadow” practise, which then radiates into social reality. Nevertheless, the question is still how the contemporary academy can fully equip its students, and which alternative spheres or areas are subsequently relevant to consider. In this series these questions are confronted by considering art practises in relation to certain non-art domains or concepts and by looking at transdisciplinary work from artists.

Designer Aaf van Essen - who finds inspiration in the motto "willing anarchism" - is former head of the design department of the Sandberg Institute. Currently, she is involved in various projects at the Rietveld, stimulating students to engage in unrelenting art and design practises. She is also collaborating with Kristin Hughes of the Carnegie Mellum School of Design on a project for children about food and health.

 

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