“Critical Practices”
conference—150 years
of art education

“Critical Practices”
conference—150 years
of art education

University of Gothenburg

Niklas Persson, 150 years of Art Education in Gothenburg, 2015. Graphic, variable.
June 16, 2015
“Critical Practices” conference—150 years of art education

2–3 October 2015

Valand Academy of Arts
Vasagatan 50


In the 2015–16 academic year the staff and students of Valand Academy will mark the anniversary of the Gothenburg Museum Drawing School, founded in October 1865. The independent impetus of the historical Drawing School has developed over the last century and a half to become the Valand Academy at the University of Gothenburg, providing education, supporting artistic development and leading research in film, literary composition, photography and fine art. We are pleased to announce, as part of the programme of activities marking our 150th anniversary year, a major international conference on the question of art education and its critical agency in the contemporary world.

“Critical Practices: Education from art and artists”
Advance confirmed speakers include: Dave Beech (London/Gothenburg, Sweden), Maj Hasager (Lund, Sweden), Steven Madoff (New York), Per Nilsson (Umeå, Sweden) and Katya Sander (Berlin/Copenhagen), Rod Stoneman (Galway, Ireland), and Mick Wilson (Gothenburg, Sweden/Dublin).

The conference will explore the potentials and conditions of contemporary art education with particular focus on the role of art, and of artists, in generating and sustaining critical practices in an expanded field of education. A key question presented to participants is that of the role of artists, and of works of art, in the education of artists and in education more broadly conceived. If once we could take it as a given that the education of artists would be led by artists, and led by the singularity of the encounter with artistic practices and works, we see that this position is increasingly. At the same moment we encounter, in the debates among critical arts educators, a revisiting of foundational moments in the development of the art academy and of contemporary art’s different pedagogical heritages.

This conference will draw upon the longstanding tradition of experimentation in artist-led education, independent artistic practice and artist-led culture in Gothenburg in order to engage international networks of artists, educators, critics and curators to discuss the key problems and contests that define contemporary art education, its recent histories and its possible futures. At a time when the global discussion of critical educational practice is overshadowed by the hegemony of neoliberal assaults on public culture, the conference seeks to inform the future development of artistic experimentation as educational praxis, within wider webs of interaction and dialogue with other societal actors, and with respect to the contested domains of public culture.

Drawing upon the unique cross-interaction of artistic practices at the Academy, we seek also to consider the commonalities and differences across artistic education in the different traditions of fine art, film, photography and literary composition.

Contested institutions / contradictory incitements
“Excellence is invoked […] as always to say precisely nothing at all: it deflects attention from the questions of what quality […] might be, who actually are the judges of a relevant or good university, and by what authority they become those judges. Excellence responds very well to the needs of technological capitalism […] in that it allows for the increasing integration of all activities into a generalized market, while permitting a large degree of flexibility and innovation at local level […] once excellence has been generally accepted as an organizing principle, there is no need to argue about different definitions […] Excellence draws only one boundary: the boundary that protects the unrestricted power of the bureaucracy.” (B. Readings, 1996)

“Living with contradictions is difficult, and, especially for intellectuals and artists employed in academic institutions, the inability to speak honestly and openly about contradictory consciousness can lead to a destructive desire for ‘pure’ political positions, to militant posturing and internecine battles with one another that ultimately have more to do with individual subjectivities and self-images than with disciplined collective struggle for resources and power.” (G. Lipsitz, 2000)

Participation is free, but places are limited: Advance booking recommended.
To reserve your place at the conference please email: [email protected] with the words “Critical Practices Conference” in the message header.

The full programme will be announced in August 2015. Read more



"Critical Practices" conference—150 years of art education in Gothenburg

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University of Gothenburg
June 16, 2015

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