Wide Open School
at Hayward Gallery, London
11 June–11 July 2012
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road
London, SE1 8XX, England
The Hayward Gallery’s Wide Open School is an unusual experiment in public learning. Its programme of courses has been devised and will be delivered by over 100 artists from approximately 40 different countries. It is not an art school, however, but a school run by artists: a wide-ranging forum where artists lead and facilitate workshops, collaborative projects, collective discussions, lectures, and performances about any and all subjects in which they are passionately interested.
Contemporary artists regularly find fresh ways of approaching research and thinking from other disciplines, from history to physics, from anthropology to economics. Building on these tendencies, Wide Open School will operate as a meeting ground for overlapping fields of knowledge. It will establish a temporary haven for lateral thinking. Yet while the courses in Wide Open School span an eclectic spectrum, they also share a common goal: offering participants a direct experience of how artists think about and question things.
Most schools are in the business of transferring knowledge from teachers to students. Wide Open School, on the other hand, is more like a labyrinth of learning in which various possibilities can be explored and developed. As one of the participating artists has suggested, it is a school for people who love learning but do not necessarily like schools. It will also provide an opportunity for playing with the rules of how we educate ourselves. But it is not a new model for an academy. Playful and serious at the same time, it aims above all to create an energetic atmosphere for formulating and exchanging ideas.
Wide Open School will take place in classrooms built in the Hayward’s gallery spaces. But is not meant to be an exhibition in any sense, and it demands a very different type of engagement. It will ask its participants to make an unusual commitment of time as well as energy. It will invite them to use their intelligence in unusual ways, and it will require a willingness to discuss issues and to make things with strangers. And its success will depend on people realizing that the contribution of each and every member of the school is significant.
Wide Open School will be open to everyone. There are no applications required, no entrance exams to take. Enrolment in courses will be on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, except in those instances where an artist has specified their desire to work with particular age groups or individuals with special learning needs. While the majority have been invented by artists, a handful of courses will be based on proposals from the public. Accommodating different modes of learning, classes will range in size from one-on-one conversations to small groups to large gatherings.
Thanks to the many artists involved, Wide Open School will offer learning experiences that may lead to the kind of intuitive insights and sharpened perceptions that our encounters with art produce. It might not an exhibition by any stretch of the imagination, but in this sense Wide Open School may end up being more like a collective work of art.
Georges Adéagbo with Stephan Köhler, Mark Allen / Machine Project, Yto Barrada with Mounira Bouzid El Alami, Yael Bartana, Christine Binnie, Jennifer Binnie and Wilma Johnson, Tania Bruguera, Bonnie Camplin with Kieron Livingstone, Cao Fei with Pak Sheung Chuen, Anthony Caro, Adam Chodzko, Martin Creed, Dorothy Cross with Philip Hoare, Cullinan Richards, Jochen Dehn with Francesco Pedraglio, Jeremy Deller with Ed Hall, Marlene Dumas, Yara El-Sherbini, Tracey Emin with Jeanette Winterson, Harrell Fletcher, Stephen Fowler and the Wildman, Meschac Gaba, Dora García, Gelitin, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster with Ari Benjamin Meyers, Antony Gormley with Michael Newman, Fritz Haeg and friends, Romuald Hazoumè, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Jeppe Hein with Robert Müller-Grünow, Susan Hiller, Roger Hiorns, Thomas Hirschhorn, Tehching Hsieh, Isaac Julien with David Harvey, Bouchra Khalili with Marie-Pierre Duhamel-Muller, Elena Kovylina, Jompet Kuswidananto, Suzanne Lacy, Michael Landy with Clive Lissaman, Pedro Lasch with Stefano Harney, Xavier Le Roy, Mark Leckey, Lee Bul, Lee Mingwei, Lu Jie, Nathaniel Mellors, Darius Mikšys, Aleksandra Mir with Irena Sedlecká, Ernesto Neto, Olaf Nicolai, Makoto Nomura, Yoshua Okón, João Onofre, Lucy + Jorge Orta, Dan and Lia Perjovschi, Susan Philipsz, Amalia Pica, Cesare Pietroiusti, Marjetica Potrč with Richard Sennett, The Public School, Tobias Putrih, Raqs Media Collective, Pedro Reyes, Tim Rollins + K.O.S., Tomás Saraceno, Kateřina Šedá, Wael Shawky, Shimabuku with Daisuke Hayashi, Yinka Shonibare MBE with Richard Phillips, Alexandre Singh, Song Dong, Bob and Roberta Smith with Anna Minton, Kidlat Tahimik, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Wolfgang Tillmans with Peter Török, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Jalal Toufic, Jessica Voorsanger, Mark Wallinger, Gillian Wearing with Sam Rumbelow, Margaret Wertheim, Bedwyr Williams, Jane and Louise Wilson with Caroline Wilkinson and Brian Dillon, Haegue Yang, Carey Young, and David Zink Yi and friends.
Wide Open School is a highlight of Southbank Centre’s summer-long Festival of the World with MasterCard.