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On Not Knowing: How Artists Teach

This week I am visiting Glasgow, UK, to participate in the conference On Not Knowing: How Artists Teach. I will contribute with a workshop called Places where to start – how do we incite study in times of uncertainty? Hope to see you there!

“This workshop examines how we, as teachers of artistic practice, incite study1. In a time when the promise of education to prepare students for the future becomes harder to fulfil, we will focus on how we establish practices of study, in and beyond education2. How do we show students places where to start?”

In education we ask students to act; to make decisions, explore subjects of interest and create art. How do we help them to work through the resistance that comes from acting in a world that is unstable and unpredictable? Teaching being-with-uncertainty3 is characterised by an openness to knowing the world through epistemological gaps. This means recognizing that we will not be able to act with certainty in this world, while still managing to not become paralysed by this insight. Furthermore, as teachers and students, we must learn not simply to act, but to act with intent, despite the lack of guarantees for a desired outcome.

The aim of the workshop is to practice a shift from goal oriented teaching, to focus on places where to start. Based in a generous sharing of skills and experience, we will experiment with how we enter the classroom, introduce subjects and methods, and spark the will to study (in students as well as in ourselves), validating specific art bound pedagogies as we go. The workshop is based on Lisa Nyberg’s experience of teaching courses on “To Study” with first year students at academies of visual and performing arts, as well as her PhD project Pedagogies of the Unknown – studying for a future, without guarantees (2022).”

1 Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider (New York, NY: Random House Inc., 1984), 98.“The learning process is something

you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

2Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study (Wivenhoe: Minor Compositions, 2013).

3Roland Barnett, “Learning for an Unknown Future,” Higher Education Research & Development 23, no. 3 (2004).