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Invisible aesthetics : art as a catalyst for dialogue

Through an exchange partnership between Konstfack, University College of Arts, Crafts and Design and Wits University we had the opportunity to stay in Johannesburg from July to October 2007. We arrived in this city with a prior interest in questions relating to public space and the politics of access to these spaces. In a city which continues to be segregated and in many ways difficult to access, these questions felt even more relevant. Through artistic research and the theories of Michel Foucault and Rosalyn Deutsche we address the question:
How can art negotiatespace in order to alter power relationships?
Our research is based on artistic practices, namely our own experiments and interviews with the two members of the Trinity Session, Stephen Hobbs and Marcus Neustetter, in which we interrogate an aspect of one of their projects. We have analysed these artistic practices through three keywords: public space, power relationships and embodied experience. Deutsche stresses the notion of public space being based in and on conflict. Foucault describes power as something we always produce through our actions. Embodied experience can be seen as a kind of lasting knowledge in the span between unspoken experience and outspoken knowledge.
Some contemporary art projects have the capacity to offer people an embodied experience and through this, disturb the production of power because these mechanisms are working on the same level. Given Foucault’s argument that power is not one big entity but rather a series of small practices, these disturbances can be seen as the embryo for something new. To put it simply: micro power can be fought by micro actions.
In the longer term we envisage these process-based art practices as having possibilities for the kind of work taking place in schools. We propose that this kind of contemporary art practice can make the art education of today more vivid. We also argue that the notion of embodied experience enriches pedagogical possibilities in school.
A CD is attached to this paper which includes documentation from our artistic research and from the final exhibition we installed at Konstfack. We didn’t want to exhibit a representation of our work but rather attempted to produce an experience for people to demonstrate the notion of embodied experience. The form in which we had to work didn’t allow us to initiate a happening. Therefore our exhibition became a necessary reconfiguration where we used similar strategies and artefacts to the ones we have described in the paper but we also encouraged people to participate by sending pictures to a cell phone exhibited in the gallery. In this way our exhibition was interactive at the same time as it showed strategies we have been working with in our exam thesis.

Full spec

Open Closed
Invisible aesthetics
Student thesis
Konstfack, Inst. för bildpedagogik