PEI 2014

Backed up by its six year history and its international prestige, the PEI has functioned as a device for training critical agents who are qualified to experiment in the institutional sphere without losing sight of the social context and political conditions of cultural and art institutions.

The PEI is a pivot between museum and university, and rejects the traditional division of knowledge and the museum-based logic of the cultural industries, as well as the ecosystem that exists around the desire to educate an ‘intellectual workforce’ in the neoliberal context. As such, the PEI challenges the idea that the accepted notions of ‘cultural management’ and its techniques are the only way of operating professionally in the artistic and cultural production system. Instead, it fills the need for a pedagogy based on subaltern forms of knowledge, with a special emphasis on critical theories, grammars of feminism and the languages and practices of decolonisation.

The PEI is made up of a series of interconnected mobile workspaces that generate a range of different activities. These spaces of education and critique revolve around three main lines of research (Critical Theory, Gender Technologies and Political Imagination) and seven complementary subjects (Decolonial Epistemologies, The Economy of Culture, Strategies of Desire, Right to the City, Art and Visuality and Performative Politics). These subjects are woven through the syllabus in the form of seminars and lectures, as well as a series of workshops on archival research, the making of cartographies, discursive or curatorial experimentation, and the production of cultural and social intervention strategies.

Faculty 2014-15

Director: Paul B: Preciado

Faculty: Manuel Asensi, Xavier Antich, Franco Berardi (Bifo), Jordi Bonet, Marcelo Expósito, Paul B. Preciado, Guillermo Gómez-Peña y La Pocha Nostra, Ana Longoni y Suely Rolnik.

Invited Professors: Jesús Carrillo, Catherine David, Georges Didi-Huberman, Michel Feher, Itziar González Virós, Yaiza Hernández, Brian Holmes, Walter Mignolo, Miguel Morey, Quim Pujol, Jorge Ribalta, Valentín Roma y Pedro G. Romero, Jorge Ribalta entre otros.

Invited Professors in previous editions: Doug Ashford, Zdenka Badovinac, Lars Bang Larsen, Enric Berenguer, Jordi Borja, Rosi Braidotti, Judith Butler, Ximena Briceño, Christophe Broqua, Pablo Ciccolella, Jeffrey Cohen, Lisa Collins, Beatriz Colomina, Douglas Crimp, David Harvey, Elisabeth Lebovici, José Esteban Muñoz, Miren Etxezarreta, Safaa Fathy, Maurizio Ferraris, Michel Ferrer, Devin Fore, Maria Gough, Gabriela Gutiérrez Dewar, José Luis Pardo, Robin Kelsey, Andrew Kirby, Rita McBride, Jordana Meldenson, Chantal Mouffe, Francesc Muñoz, Lluís Ortega, Doina Patrescu, Cynthia Patton, Jorge Pedemonte, Pilar Pedraza, Víctor Pimstein, Carlos Prieto, Ferran Pujol Roca, John Rajchman, Jacques Rancière, John Roberts, Joan Roca, Emmanuel Rodríguez, Anne Sauvagnargues, Allan Sekula, Neil Smith, Gayatri Spivak, Eyal Weizman, Brian Winston y George Yúdice.

Statement 2014 by Paul B. Preciado

The transformations of cognitive capitalism over the past decade have brought cultural production and educational practice to a new crossroads. On one hand, culture is playing an increasingly important role in the forms of producing the immaterial economy. On the other, neoliberal reforms are gradually hollowing out educational and cultural institutions. The cultural sphere can no longer be considered an autonomous counter-power outside the sphere of the value-production processes of capitalism. While ‘institutional critique’ characterized the forms of action of the last two decades of the past century, we are now facing a new challenge: how to set up constitutive processes and invent new institutional frameworks through which to produce knowledge and value.

This pressing need leads us to define the Independent Studies Program (PEI) in terms of radical pedagogy and institutional activism. Our commitment to radical pedagogies and militant research is clearly rooted in our recent history: Xavier Antich, Manuel Asensi, Marcelo Expósito, Jorge Ribalta and myself – as the program’s core pedagogical team – started exploring, more than ten years ago, the interval between artistic practice and political and social production through research projects, experimental workshops and seminars organized at the very borders of the museum. We were convinced that resistance could no longer be done from outside the institution – that it must instead transform the museum itself, redrawing its boundaries and modifying its cognitive architecture. We wanted to dissociate ourselves from the marketing of the curatorial Masters programs, which train students to become flexible agents of post-Fordist production. We wanted to question the hegemony of the exhibition apparatus and the bloating of the omniscient figure of the curator. Instead, our aim was to transform the museum into a research laboratory in which art engages with critical practices and with social production. Having come from anti-establishment, feminist and queer movements – with backgrounds in the use of writing and critique as forms of direct action – we decided to occupy the gaps that exist between the museum institution and the university as an experimental topos from which to craft forms and meanings that can be shared collectively and function as vectors for political emancipation.

We know that education is not a neutral space. As the feminist and decolonialization traditions have shown, during modernity educational institutions constituted themselves as disciplinary sites that served to normalize the body and subjectivity, while reproducing the patriarchal systems of difference, a colonial logic as well as the orders of capitalist production. While the classroom is the normative episteme of a specific moment in history, it can also be an experimental ground where hybrid methodologies and subaltern forms of knowledge can be implemented. We need to challenge the divisions between academic disciplines and question the separation between practice and critique, between art and politics, as well as the hierarchical relationship between teacher and student, the notion of knowledge as private property, the distribution of high and low registers, the exclusion of the body from critical genealogies. Radical pedagogy entails a commitment to continuously redefining the classroom, research seminar and workshop as democratic spaces. We see ourselves as part of a tradition of experimental educational counter-practices: Black Mountain, working class and feminist schools, the Feminist Art Program at Cal Arts, the work of Félix Guattari and the institutional invention at La Borde, the production of biopolitical counter-knowledge in the eighties and nineties within activist collectives such as ACT-UP… Within this tradition the artist and the critic are ‘cultural activists’, as Douglas Crimp puts it, to the extent that they invent new languages and technologies of dissident subjectivation.

Over the past few years, thanks to the collaboration of a remarkably generous and talented staff and the intelligence and enthusiasm of our students, we have established ourselves as an academically acclaimed program that attracts an increasing number of international students every year. I’m referring here to the invaluable participation of Neil Smith and Allan Sekula, who are no longer with us, and of Franco Berardi Bifo, Jordi Bonet, Ana Longoni and Suely Rolnik, and also to the rhizome of collaborators who have helped give meaning to the PEI’s lines of research: Judith Butler, Angela Davis, Michel Feher, Dona Haraway, Brian Holmes… and who make up our critical diaspora. I’m also referring to the growing network of ex-students who are now a genuine critical, emotional and artistic ‘Internationale’ with the capacity to generate projects that spread to other contexts and institutions: from the Royal College of Art in London to the Museo de Arte de Lima in Peru. Over the years, our students have taught us other somatic knowledge, other discursive pleasures, another militant creativity.

PEI’s unique mission is to develop new grammars that will allow us to critically decode the colonial archive and the history of capitalism, as well as the history of aesthetics – in the sense of a general iconography of forms and of ways of understanding and feeling. But we are also collectively engaged in producing a cartography of languages and techniques for resisting control that will allow us to develop an epistemic alternative to the somatic and cognitive models offered by neoliberal governmentality. This exercise in collective invention overflows the limits of the academic framework and points towards the possibility of a new citizenry.

Paul B. Preciado
Academic Director 2014 - 15