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
In collaboration with Marijana Hameršak and the Women to Women collective, CAConrad, Vera Dajht-Kralj, Lav Diaz, Etcétera / Progressive International Workshop, Tina Gverović, Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz, Mladen Stilinović
‘In Mourning and in Rage’ takes its title from the 1977 public performance Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz realised in 1977 in Los Angeles in collaboration with women-led communities opposing sexual violence against women. The exhibition reflects on the integration of grief and loss as a necessary step in reigniting resistance, empowerment, communal learning, and healing at both individual and collective levels. Although, the exhibition is not an overview of this complex topic, from various geographical and temporal perspectives, it looks at the relationship between mourning and rebellion in past and current feminist, Indigenous, and other emancipatory struggles.
‘Who Is Afraid of Ideology? III’ (2020) by Marwa Arsanios addresses the ecological and activist struggles of Indigenous women in Colombia related to the preservation of seeds as a common good. Tackling the normalisation of border deaths in Europe, selma banich in collaboration with Marijana Hameršak and the Women to Women collective within the project ‘The Passage – dedicated to our fallen comrades’ (2021) have created a memorial canvas stitch that commemorates the lives of the people who have died on the Balkan migration route.
The exhibition approaches the notions of “mourning” and “rage” as a twofold process that involves somatic, poetic, and temporal experiences of withdrawal (mourning) and reaching out (rage). This process is exemplified by a number of works that use the motifs of bodily gesture, language, and duration as speculative sites for processing loss. The representation of female subjectivity, through the figures of the female fighters, rebels, witches, grieving mothers, and imprisoned women is central preoccupation of ‘the sculptural works’ of Vera Dajht-Kralj, who in the postwar period also realised public monuments thematising anti-fascist struggle in Yugoslavia. The nearly eight-hour film ‘Melancholia’ (2008) by filmmaker Lav Diaz addresses revolutionary melancholy and grief as well as the fiction of togetherness in the context of the political and revolutionary struggles of the Filipino people.
Alongside a socially engaged approach that combines art and activism, the exhibition holds space for intimate perspectives and a poetic approach. ‘Two Way Surge as if There Was No Other’ (2021) by Tina Gverović is an immersive textile installation that expresses the embodiment of rage, as translated into the flow of fabric, with the motives considering bodies in need of mutual support. Continued engagement with the subject matter of pain and death in the work of Mladen Stilinović never means talking about a particular pain, death, or so on—rather, the artist considers these to be lasting and mutually interwoven conditions, and his works reflect upon their inexorably intertwined nature.
The poetry of CAConrad revolves around the topic of death and grieving. Following the brutal murder of their partner Earth in 1998, they began searching for a (soma)tic poetry ritual to overcome depression and tackle systemic violence against LGBTQ+ communities. Their book of poetry ‘While Standing in Line for Death’ (2017), included in the exhibition, consists of rituals, poems, political actions, and exercises that testify to poetry’s ability to reconnect us and decrease alienation on personal, collective, and planetary levels.
Looking at the dynamics of melancholy vis-à-vis revolutionary potentials, the ‘In Mourning and in Rage’ exhibition calls for a renewal of spaces for communal mourning and dissent. This notion, shared by all the works in the exhibition, is exemplified in Etcétera poster work ‘Let’s Try Again’ (2021), which symbolically calls on us to try again to collectively rebuild internationalism, by joining ongoing struggles that the support recognition of all peoples, Indigenous nations, and states besieged by ongoing violence and apartheid.
The programme is supported by: Foundation for Arts Initiatives, European Commission’s Creative Europe programme, Kontakt Collection / ERSTE Foundation, Kultura Nova Foundation, Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs, Croatia, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, City of Zagreb