Education from Below is a two-year collaborative programme organised between the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, MACBA, Barcelona and WHW, Zagreb.
Education from Below explores art as a place for dialogue, collective learning and imagination. Education doesn't belong only in institutions, but it can be horizontal and come from below, from communities.
The project recognises that art practices can dislocate the usual hierarchies of what should or should not be learned and traditional divisions between theory and practice, and that knowledge does not have to be based on accumulation, but rather on sharing and mutual learning.
The partners will explore new models of art practice based on collective learning and will generate a network of institutions and professionals for sharing methodologies.
Education from Below links three independent programmes for artists, Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, PEI at MACBA, and WHW Akademija that each provide important opportunities for artistic development outside of formal education systems. The project will be realised over the course of autumn 2019 – autumn 2021 through seminars, study groups, artist residencies, exhibitions, series of lectures, an international conference, a collective reader and a common web platform, involving many artists, thinkers and educators.
Gallery Nova, Zagreb
Vlad Brăteanu, Tin Dožić, Bianca Hisse, Neža Knez, Jolanta Nowaczyk, Gaisha Madanova, Ekaterina Muromtseva, María Luisa Sanín Peña, Ivana Tkalčić
The exhibition 'Drei Tage bis zum Ende der Kunst' is the result of a seven-month journey within the WHW Akademija module Conversation about the Trees (conceived and led by Ana Dević). Focusing on issues such as resistance, resilience, and collectivity, the module used the motif of trees and forests as a metaphor through which main lines of inquiry branched out into different topics and artistic practices, as found in the Kontakt Collection.
Developed during this moment of pandemic-induced isolation, the exhibition—which is the first act of the module—invites audiences to view it from the outside, on the other side of closed doors. The topics of dematerialisation and being alone can be seen as a nod to numerous historical neo-avant-garde and conceptual artistic practices that looked for more autonomous ways of production and dissemination. In addition to this art historical dimension, the exhibition rethinks political ecologies, human-nonhuman relations, and materiality. Lastly, it claims a wider space to consider isolation from the perspective of environmental politics, the challenges wrought by inequalities and climate change, and art’s social responsibilities.
Borrowing its title from Mladen Stilinović’s text-based work 'Drei Tage bis zum Ende der Kunst' (2002), which reflects on the philosophical conundrums of the idea of “the end of art,” the exhibition resonates with ongoing challenges of cultural production in the current context. Looking for gestures and strategies available and implementable in this situation of social foreclosure, the display turns the gallery into a “vitrine box” and a sort of a backstage area. Within this framework, the exhibition hosts recurring micro-actions, moving and still objects, texts, scores, and liminal in situ interventions, conceived as unrehearsed and intimate encounters in relation to and around the gallery space and its institutional framework. This proposition draws on the potentialities of an empty space and the physicalities and temporalities of (in)visibility, gesture, representation, distance, closeness, concealment, and revelation, to name just a few.
The second act of the module, called 'One on one, none on none, all in all', is an attempt by the WHW Akademija participants to get together while being displaced. The outcome is a collective walk, happening in both real and constructed spaces.
The concluding act of this tripartite programme is a performative sound broadcast that delves into the allegorical poem 'Conference of the Birds' by twelfth-century Persian poet Feriduddin Attar as staged for the theater by Peter Brook in 1979. The poem tells the story of a group of birds’ mythical quest for knowledge and truth. At the end of their journey, the exhausted birds meet their true sovereign—themselves, transformed—realising that what they were searching for was already there all along. While rehearsing and performing the text together, the participants of WHW Akademija constructed a common language to share their hopes and frustrations. The illuminating verse at the end of the poem—about an open path with no guide nor any travelers—alludes to an open labyrinth that our voices try to navigate together.
WHW Akademija is realised in partnership with the Kontakt Collection, which focuses on experimental and neo-avant-garde art in Central, Eastern, and Southeast Europe from the late 1950s onward.
WHW Akademija’s primary funders are Kontakt Collection / ERSTE Foundation and the Foundation for Arts Initiatives.
The programme is also supported by: European Commission's Creative Europe programme Kultura Nova Foundation Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs, Croatia Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia City of Zagreb