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Pedagogies and Unlearning

Five publications and two podcasts about education, pedagogy and emancipation

The so-called ‘educational turn’ has been a major subject of debate in art and its institutions during the twenty-first century. Concepts such as pedagogy, learning and unlearning, emancipation and mediation are widely used nowadays, despite being constantly revised and questioned in a capitalist context and society in which everything is in danger of being absorbed and losing its political and transformative potential.

Featured here are a series of authors, essays and podcasts related to different MACBA exhibitions and activities that have education as their central subject: Marina Garcés in Pedagogías y emancipación; Francisco Fernández Bucy y Jordi Mir in Desacuerdos 6, a volume on the Collection dedicated to education; Nora Sternfeld’s podcast Son[i]a #296 on RWM; Norman M. Klein in the catalogue Peter Friedl: Work 1964–2006; Lars Bang Larsen in the catalogue Palle Nielsen: The Model – A Model for a Qualitative Society, 1968; Janna Graham in the podcast Son[i]a #295 on RWM; and Diego del Pozo in Programes educatius 2019–2020.

Marina Garcés, ‘El contratiempo de la emancipación’, at Pedagogías y emancipación (et al.)
«Education is humanity’s oldest practice, because not knowing how to live is what makes us humans. We don’t know how to survive or live together; we need to learn everything from the moment we’re born to the moment we die. On this path, death does not end the process of learning, it simply interrupts it. As humans, we should never take learning for granted. There are no subjects or topics that can ever be passed once and for all like an exam. Education means learning to live together and learning together how to live.»
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Francisco Fernández Buey and Jordi Mir García, ‘Apropiación del futuro: revuelta estudiantil y autogestión durante el tardo-franquismo y la Transición’, at Desacuerdos 6. Sobre arte, política, y esfera pública en el Estado Español. Educación
‘Self-management’ was a recurring term in the documents of Spain’s student movement from the late 1950s to the early years of the Transition. From the very beginning of this anti-Franco movement, references to self-management were linked, albeit generically, to the influence of socialist and libertarian traditions.
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Nora Sternfeld in Ràdio Web MACBA
We talk to Nora Sternfeld about education, power, historical narratives, para-institutions, “unlearning” strategies, and collective knowledge projected into the future: “How can we learn something that doesn’t exist yet? It is not possible that one person will know something that does not exist yet, it’s a contradiction in itself. But, together, each of us, has a bit of a knowledge of something that doesn’t exist yet. So, if we bring these imaginations together we can build on a possible imagination that can grow stronger and stronger. In this sense I think that learning cannot be imagined without collectivity. We learn together.”
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Norman M. Klein, ‘Grounding Play: Imaginary Children in an Era of Global Paranoia’ at Peter Friedl. Work 1964-2006
«Of course, schools have been sliding in the Los Angeles area […] I started out by sending my child to a progressive pre-school, with a vast play area that turned into a “lord of the flies” nightmare. Kids ran like a herd of confused buffalo. Those in charge were incompetent and cruel. In their anxiety, they even sat on children who talked back. My son threw furniture at one caregiver who was mistreating his friend.»
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Lars Bang Larsen, ‘The Art Activist’s Mass Utopia’, at Palle Nielsen. The Model – A Model of a Qualitative Society (1968)
«Art and play are reconnected in the growing culture industries and in new imperatives of socialisation. If forty years ago free play was believed to be an Erziehung zum Ungehörsam, as a German book title proclaimed back then: an ‘education in disobedience’; then the encouragement of creativity has today been turned into one of the means by which the commercial spheres of circulation adjust and control social processes.»
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Janna Graham in Ràdio Web MACBA
A central figure of the so-called “educational turn” in curating, Janna takes a highly critical stance toward ways of imagining and planning emancipatory educational spaces in (and from) the art world. She also persists in pointing out the colonial distortions and tensions that are reproduced through the artistic and educational practices of museums.
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Diego del Pozo, ‘Qüestionar la normalitat’, at Programes educatius. 2019-2020 MACBA
«Museums, like schools, have often acted as the regulators of a certain order in response to a supposed social entente regarding the construction and consensus of norms. As a result, schools have promoted processes of normalisation and discipline, while museums dictated aesthetic taste and built a canon. Challenging not only the norms of behaviour imposed by these institutions, but above all the dominating discourses behind them, has become a prominent and inexhaustible task in the last few decades from several fronts of critical thinking and activism.»
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