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Unlearning

“What is education; what are its means and ends; and when is it time to reexamine and reimagine current educational practices?” In so many situations last year, during the centenary of the Bauhaus, researchers, curators, professors, and intellectuals asked themselves these questions. In our uncertain present we need to understand the practice of unlearning—the value of  a counter-knowledge to propose new attitudes. We can’t engage ourselves in a persistent hyper-presence. We need to vote for an (im)possible position.

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Compiled by Lisa Andreani
9 Essays
We have recently heard much about the “educational turn in curating” among several other “educational turns” affecting cultural practices around us. 1 Having participated in several of the projects emerging from this perceived “turn,” it seems pertinent to ask whether this umbrella is actually descriptive of the drives that have propelled this desired transition. 2 My questions here firstly concern what constitutes a “turn” to begin with? Are we talking about a “reading strategy” or...
In the inaugural issue of e-flux journal , Irit Rogoff, under the deliberately ironic title “Turning,” calls attention to the recent “educational turn in curating,” thereby marking important shifts in the understanding of both practices: curating is no longer understood as the mere mounting of exhibitions; education is no longer understood as the transmission of existing values and acquirements. 1 Thus we are dealing with a turn in two arenas, the curatorial and the educational. By...
I recently recalled the precise moment when it first occurred to me that I would like to become an artist. I grew up in Moscow, and my father was a self-taught musician working at the circus. Circus artists work extremely hard physically: the amount of daily practice and physical exercise necessary to perform acrobatic acts or walk a tightrope is really enormous. They practice and exercise all day and perform by night—it’s nearly a twenty-four-hour-a-day job. There was a birthday party...

Free love and camaraderie were at the core of Kollontai’s thinking, for her novels and essays describe love as a force that frees one from bourgeois notions of property. As an influential figure, a rare woman in the Bolshevik Party leadership, and commissar for social welfare in their first government, she not only set up free childcare centers and maternity houses, but also pushed through laws and regulations that greatly expanded the rights of women: divorce, abortion, and recognition for children born out of wedlock, for example. She organized women’s congresses that were multiethnic in the way the young Soviet Union practiced controlled inclusion, following Western models. At the time, these were unique measures that were soon overhauled by Stalin, who did not appreciate any attempt at ending what Kollontai called “the universal servitude of woman.”

You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test. —George W. Bush, in a speech given in Townsend, Tennessee, February 21, 2001 Interestingly, at least in the languages I know, when one talks about alphabetization there is always the mention of reading and writing, in that order. Ideologically speaking, this prioritized order not only reflects the division between production and consumption, but subliminally emphasizes the latter: ignorance is...
We are in the middle of a time in which classical notions of flexibility and freedom actually work to alienate our relations to one another. But in fact the ability to shift, to deviate, to morph should constitute the strongest claim that we are much more than what traditional categories tell us we must only be. It is precisely when elaborate techniques of labor extraction become indistinguishable from sensations of pleasure and self-realization that queerness returns to insist on the...

In one of his treatises, Malevich writes about the difference between artists and physicians or engineers. If somebody becomes ill, they call a physician to regain their health. And if a machine is broken, an engineer is called to make it function again. But when it comes to artists, they are not interested in improvement and healing: the artist is interested in the image of illness and dysfunction. This does not mean that healing and repair are futile or should not be practiced. It only means that art has a different goal than social engineering.

The term “contemporary art” is marked by an excessive usefulness. The contemporary has exceeded the specificity of the present to become inextricably linked to the growth of doubt consolidation. At the same time, it has absorbed a particular and resistant grouping of interests, all of which have become the multiple specificities of the contemporary. The tendency is for artists to deny that they are part of something that is recognized and defined by others. Frustrations here are always...
In a 1967 report published in Eye: Magazine of the Yale Arts Association , Charles Moore, chairman of the department of architecture at Yale University’s School of Art and Architecture (A&A), spoke to a “marked shift” then taking place. Students and faculty have now become involved to an unprecedented extent, in real problems in all their complexity with a concern for social issues and more concern for its form and less concern for the shape of objects in it. To an increasing...
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