Ivana Mance
scientific assistant, Institute for History of Art
(interview in the frame of Art & Education virtual conference, 2006)

 

Texts and authors recommended for study in art-specialized educational institutions. Could you specify the range of theory that should in your opinion be included into educational program on Art academies?

Classical aesthetics & art theory (from Plato to Hegel, Baumgarten, Winckelmann, Nietzsche, Heidegger etc.).

Main concepts in 20th century philosophy & theory (Marxism, structuralism (incl. linguistics), semiotics, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, postcolonial theory, etc.

 

The competence expected from graduates of art-specialized educational institutions. Could the term Ďuncompetent artistí proposed in draft of this project imply an artist with lack of theoretical education?

The basic/general theoretical knowledge contribute to artistís competence but doesnít† guarantee it.

 

If so, can one likewise draw an analogous concept of Ďuncompetent theoreticianí who lacks a practical experience in art?

No, I donít think that theoretician needs experience in art-practice to produce competent art-theory.† Of course, he/she should be informed, have passive knowledge about art (if he/sheís occupied with art-theory).

 

Practical example for illustration: What is the competence expected from an Art Academy graduate in the case when s/he applies for a theoretical post-graduation study?

It should be preferable that graduate already have some knowledge in aesthetics and art-theory, but I donít think that art-practice and theory-practice are mutually interchangeable Ė one doesnít function as a metalanguage for the other, theory and art are not reducible as base and superstructure, their relation is the world of cultural production is far more complex.

 

How can one define the competence of the artist or the theoretician in contemporary art?

Of course that both theoretician and artist should be informed about the field of interest of the other one, but their perspective as well their agencies are different.

 

Is the preoccupation with theory necessarily carried out at the expense of an engagement with works of art themselves?

I donít believe that art experience have ever been theoretically unmediated,† spontaneous etc. but that doesnít mean that social performance of art-practice can be reduced to itís discursive elaboration/mediation.

 

How would preoccupation with theory manifest itself on the production of works by: artists and theoreticians

Overtly generalized, uninventive application of theoretical concept in both art and theory production are above all boring,† but theoretical naiveté or innocence is not something that could be count on.†

 

Is there a basis to speak of theory as a legitimate medium for itself?

How would you comment on treatment that artworks generally receive from theory as yet appropriate illustrations of writerís thesis?

From the end of the í60-ies theoretical knowledge organized itself as the relatively autonomous field of cultural production known as a Theory, disintegrating traditional humanistic disciplines. During past 30 years it attained hegemonic position in the filed of cultural production (discursive at least), but it canít claim an authority for its totalization Ė in the end it is just another particular discursive practice. And, of course, theory is by definition referential practice Ė it produces its object of interest, it is at least theory about theory itself. I donít think that theory is art and vcvs.

 

Can one speak of the question of superiority of theory over visual art, in the context of the tradition of power of language in western culture?

No. I think we are living in the age of images. We can be only nostalgic on the culture of word.

 

The question of closeness and inaccessibility of knowledge:

How do you relate to the question of hermetic scientific / art / expert communities in which the development of artistic / theoretical production and knowledge is authentic and of high coefficient and where the question of its closeness does not necessarily equal the question of inaccessibility?

Iím not sure I understand question. I think that authentic theory production is basically academic, socially exclusive practice. Iím afraid it can hardly become popular discourse without being commercialized.

 

Is it possible to speak of Ďmythí when speaking about the inaccessibility of theoretical knowledge within the art-specialized educational institutions?

If it is a part of regular educational program, than it is by definition accessible for those who are interested to engage with.

 

What is the importance of non-institutional publishing projects and lectures in relation to the academic educational programs?

Iím not sure I understood what was meant under ďnon-institutionalĒ. I believe that knowledge should be democratic. Every project weather institutional (academic) weather non-institutional might contribute to the democracy of knowledge, and Iím not sure that any antagonism between the two is pursuing that goal.†

 

How do you comment on trend of production of educational projects focused on and carried out within the framework of contemporary art?

Do these educational projects indicate authentic educational crisis in contemporary art or is it merely another marketable cultural form?

I donít think that art-education is in a crisis more than education in general Ė† on the one side, traditional academic concepts should be adapted to the new norms of competence.† On the other, anything in the world of capitalistic societies is marketable, including education - knowledge production ceased to be reproductive force of national societies, and all recent transformations of the ed. system are ultimately in the function of accumulation of capital (global, not national).††

 

Can one draw a releation between current educational projects on contemporary art (Manifesta 6, Documenta XII, Interaktiv by A. Kulunčić and S. Kalčić), which are currently popular amidst artist and curators, on the one side, and the conceptual art practices of the 1970ís on the other side, which were likewise focusing on the questioning of the art system itself, yet only to be canonized and implemented as legitimate art form within the Academy in the decades that followed?

Ultimate canonization or commodification is the future perspective of any once avant-garde, alternative etc. phenomena, but not their final telos - that doesnít discredit their subversive, progressive, transformative potential neither their historical performance.

 

Can one speak of educational issues in contemporary art as yet another appropriately generated content for western contemporary art discourse?

The field of interests are always too complex to put such a claim.

 

Isnít the lack of competence of the artists and curators of which Alexander Sokolov speaks actually a rather anticipated pattern of western contemporary art development in which one generates paradigms whenever the art structures recognize the need for one?

I donít think that artists and curators are not competent. Who is the big Other /Brother weíre talking about?

 

In your opinion and experience, what are the practical obstacles in teaching the theory to art or art history students?

If it is part of the educational program, I do not see any obstacle.

 

What are the models in education which can help students in independent and qualitative selection of theoretical production and in overcoming the time-consuming aspect of reading theoretical works?

Authentic theoretical knowledge is time consuming and demand intellectual engagement.† Otherwise it would be some other kind of knowledge or experience. All other paths lead to the commodification of theoretical knowledge.

 

By reading Mr. Sokolovís draft for this project, one might get the impression that the recipient is called to accept the proposal for truly low self-esteem of, in this case, Eastern European position, accompanied by abandonement of its own inherited authentic theoretical tradition, in order to make room for receiving the western theoretical industry as sort of a Ďparadigmí for a solution (whatever the problem might be) in local contemporary art scene. Although this proposal is rather unconvincing and not applicable, none the less - what political and cultural indications can one deduce from it?

The production and distribution of knowledge is global, not exclusively national anymore. The knowledge is marketable as anything else. But, that production and exchange of knowledge is still something genuinely social and not exclusively commercial is something I want to believe in. The question is not weather we import or produce on our own, but what is the social meaning of our consumption and production and how the knowledge is articulated in the specific context.††

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