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Art Education Platform prohelvetia, Zürich/Basel, 28-29 February 2008

microsillons | Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève

www.microsillons.org microsillons@microsillons.org Marianne Guarino-Huet | Olivier Desvoignes

1. Introduction by Katya Garcia-Anton, director of the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Genève.

2. Presentation by Marianne Guarino-Huet and Olivier Desvoignes for microsillons.

Three years ago, we created microsillons, a multi-purpose structure, with variable size, working on contemporary art practices. We define ourselves as artists-educators, according to our training and our intelectual commitment. We believe in an art education linked to social problematics. According to the situations, microsillons uses work tools inspired by the fields of curatoring, critical studies, design or performance, in order to raise questions about art, institutions, public space, but also to unearth the imaginative and poetic aspects of everyday life. We also use methodologies from various fields, running from etnography to gastronomy, and we build collaborations with specialists from these disciplines.

In our practice, art education is located in an interstice between creative action and potential participants. We are not trying to explain artistic practices by directing the public’s reading of an artwork. Artistic practices are for us a way to open some space to think, critic, create, make research. Taking art as a starting point, we want to raise questions, in a broad political sense, and to link artistic experience to everyday problematics.

We work as an independant group and we develop projects, initiating them or responding to invitations. In that second way, we’ve worked for the ‘Fête de la Musique’ in Geneva, created guided walks for the Municipal Contemporary Art Fund. We’ve also won a grant for Contemporary Art Educators in Geneva with a project called ‘Mobile Office’.

Art Education Platform prohelvetia, Zürich/Basel, 28-29 February 2008 microsillons | Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève www.microsillons.org microsillons@microsillons.org
Art Education Platform prohelvetia, Zürich/Basel, 28-29 February 2008 microsillons | Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève www.microsillons.org microsillons@microsillons.org
Art Education Platform prohelvetia, Zürich/Basel, 28-29 February 2008 microsillons | Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève www.microsillons.org microsillons@microsillons.org
Art Education Platform prohelvetia, Zürich/Basel, 28-29 February 2008 microsillons | Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève www.microsillons.org microsillons@microsillons.org

Since 2005, we’ve been working with le Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève (on a punctual mandate basis) on conceiving and realizing projects with diverse publics. Before each project, we define a small pre-existing group - which we call a micropublic – for which we imagine a specific activity. Through those projects, we set up collaborations on differents levels. We work on an horizontal way and we try to empower the public with regard to contemporary art. We put a special emphasis on linking the questions raised in the exhibitions with the participants’ everyday life. We work over on a long period of time with each group and we always show publicly – through exhibitions or small publications – the result of the projects.

Each project is tailor made, without any pre-established model, creating a new situation every time. Our website is a means to archive every steps of our pratice and to broadcast our projects beyond the micropublic. Below are two projects realized for le Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève and good examples of our pratice.

In 2005, we worked on a project called ‘Le cabinet de curiosités extra-terrestre’ (Aliens’ curiosities cabinet). This project was a several months’ collaboration with a class of five to seven years old children. We worked in close partnership with their teacher on the question of collection. First, we visited a temporary show at le Centre, which was an exhibition of a private collection. Secondly - after the Aliens gave them the instructions through an animation - the kids made a collection with objects that they brought together. The aim was to help the Aliens to present what the Earth looks like to their fellows aliens. Finally, an exhibition was made at le Centre, with an opening at the same time that other exhibitions’ openings. The show presented the children’s collection and the different steps of its constitution.

Since 2005, we’ve been working with le Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève (on a punctual mandate basis)
Since 2005, we’ve been working with le Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève (on a punctual mandate basis)

The overtaking of art in the everyday life will take place in the construction of situations, in the search for them, in their experimentation. (…) Something that changes our way of seeing the streets is more important than something that changes our way of seeing paintings.

Guy Debord, Report on the Construction of Situations

Currently, le Centre is presenting the exhibition ‘Lieux communs’ (Commonplaces / Stereotypes) at le Centre. This project was made in collaboration with disabled artists who work in multimedia studios with specific animators. We visited le Centre several times with them and we asked them to propose us works using their feelings about the exhibition as a starting point. The resulting pieces use different techniques (from drawing to video) but are all at the same time critical and poetic. The artists talk about their place in the institution but also in the city, as disabled artists. As the artists work on institutional critique, they raise questions about the institution and ask for direct answers.

The overtaking of art in the everyday life will take place in the construction of situations,
The overtaking of art in the everyday life will take place in the construction of situations,
The overtaking of art in the everyday life will take place in the construction of situations,

IIt could also mean that men will shield themselves less behind certificates acquired in school and thus gain in courage to “talk back” and thereby control and instruct the institutions in which they participate. To ensure the latter we must learn to estimate the social value of work and leisure by the educational give-and. take for which they offer opportunity. Effective participation in the politics of a street, a work place, the library, a news program, or a hospital is therefore the best measuring stick to evaluate their level as educational institutions.

Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

At le Centre, we use methods that are very close to those used in some artistic projects. We are currently researching artists who put educational tools at the core of their pratices.

We believe that contemporary art represents a perfect field to experiment alternative and creative educationnal models. A field where it is possible to break up some of the constraints of schools and classic institutions. We pay a special attention to artists using radical education methods of learning.

As from mi 2008 microsillons will formalize its relationship with le Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, to fully form part of the institution and develop a series of projects annually. In 2009 at le Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, an exhibition - curated by Katya Garcia-Anton and us - will gather and make visible those practices, in order to open a debate about the contemporary art potentiality to develop an innovative education structure.

This exhibition will have an experimental form and content. It will be organised in chapters articulated by artists’ in situ projects in collaboration with local micropublics (classes, group of immigrant people…)

Those collaborations will be shown at le Centre in an exhibition which will link those pratices to art history and education history. The mise-en-scène will be an important part of the project. Scenery elements will be put at diposal to the artists and the participating publics to stage their exhibitions. The different chapters of the project will therefore use the same set of elements which will be configured differently each time.

A book will be published after the exhibition. It will not be a classic exhibition catalogue but a book expanding the questions raised by the exhibition through different texts, either collected or especially written. This book will be thought as a tool for anybody interested in the questions of art education, or art learning processes.

Finally, we would like to end this presentation with four exemples of the type of projects that we will present at le Centre.

At le Centre , we use methods that are very close to those used in some

1. A few years ago, the artist Nils Norman was invited to collaborate on a publication with a group of students from the Geneva Art University. Setting some discussion topics - especially around gentrification and the use of the public space - he helped the group of students to organise and follow the research during several months. Finally, texts fragments, images, etc… were gathered in a free publication, illustrated with the artist’s drawings.

2. The central part of Rainer Ganahl’s art practice is to organise readings and talks, like

2. The central part of Rainer Ganahl’s art practice is to organise readings and talks, like the ‘Marx reading’ project. Books and places change, but the method stays the same : collective readings and talks. He produces documentation about these ‘seminars’ and shows these elements in classic displays. A website documents and archives each project and allows participants to follow the project beyond their own participation. The ‘Karl Marx’s Kapital seminars’ were published in a book.

2. The central part of Rainer Ganahl’s art practice is to organise readings and talks, like
  • 3. The Center for Urban Pedagogy in New York organizes

educational projects around city-planning, ecology or consumption, always on a critical mode. The Center for Urban Pedagogy brings together artists, designers, architects, city-planners, lawyers, politicians, academics and teachers. Its projects often imply students in a transdisciplinary and democratic context. They also sometimes take the form of education exhibitions. For example, ‘Green Information Center’ is an information kiosk realized with Bronx students. It’s goal is to inform people in the neighbourhood about recycling, or to give away bike maps … It was also the place to distribute fanzines published by the students.

2. The central part of Rainer Ganahl’s art practice is to organise readings and talks, like
  • 4. Another example is Learning site. Learning site is a collective

bringing together members from N55 and Temporary services. The collective’s projects placed a special emphasis on the local means of production. They are raising economic and environmental questions. Learning site also have a special interest in the questions of work and of intellectual property. The collective is thinking about the way knowledge is produced and distributed, in producing, for example, education posters or do-it-yourself guides.

LINKS :

Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève www.centre.ch microsillons www.microsillons.org

Nils Norman www.dismalgarden.org The Center for Urban Pedagogy www.anothercupdevelopment.org Rainer Ganahl’s ‘Marx reading project’ www.ganahlmarx.com Learning Site online www.learningsite.info

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