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November 3, 2010 / David Bell

LAB: ‘critical pedagogy’ in the art world?

I’ve been thinking quite a bit recently about the links between critical pedagogy and artistic practice (broadly defined, that is). Our group had a meeting with two practising artists last week and there seemed to be a number of resonances between their view or what art should/can do and our view of what education should/can do, as well as with problems and tensions with the formal institutions that are normally taken to define the discipline.

In addition, I wrote a column for Ceasefire Magazine on the links between the practice of critical pedagogy and collective improvisation in music, which you can read here, and I’m going to involve critical pedagogy/popular education in the utopia I’m writing in my role as the writer-in-residence for the YH485 Press’ Bookmobile project (this utopia will be written communally: follow the blog for more info!).

Given all this, I’m delighted to observe the new project by the good people at LAB: one of the many excellent local artists’ collectives we’ve currently got in Nottingham. As part of Sideshow (the ‘fringe festival’ for the British Art Show 7, currently showing at Nottingham Contemporary/New Art Exchange/Nottingham Castle) they’re running a series of ‘information exchange’ laboratories, which speak loudly to the philosophy of critical pedagogy and offer up potential spaces for social change.

The basic idea of these labs is, they say, to ‘to find a resolution for a research problem that addresses the collective interests of invited specialists in an attempt to find a common ground. These interdisciplinary collaborations will each culminate in a weekend culture clash, an open public event in which we will present the results of that week’s project’, although if you dig further it transpires that there’s a lot more than a passing of abstract knowledge going on here, and there is a genuine attempt to engage in some collective learning and, if you’ll forgive the slight Deleuzean term, ‘becoming’.

Topics to be discussed are the uses of redundant radio frequencies; group systems and intelligence; communication; and digital/human interfaces.

More details can be found on LAB’s website.

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