Maybe-Art Maybe-Education – Education and Potential Power in the Light of the Strategies of Contemporary Art: kasvatus ja vallan mahdollisuus nykytaiteen toimintatapojen valossa

Elina Heikkilä

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph

Abstract

Art education is an activity the depictions of which are familiar to us but what is not so clear is the relationship between art and education. This research (titled Maybe-Art Maybe-Education – Education and Potential Power in the Light of the Strategies of Contemporary Art) offers one representation of this relationship, the aim being to illuminate questions of upbringing and education and especially questions of power in education by elaborating the strategies of contemporary art. The research question asks: How do the questions of power and education appear in the light of the strategies of contemporary art? Finnish philosopher and educational thinker Juho Hollo (1885–1967) serves as guidance into questions of education. His reflections on educational activity as a way of nurturing an individual’s growth and on the importance of imagination create ground for the understanding of education (upbringing) in the context of this research. (In Finnish to grow (kasvaa), to bring up/educate (kasvattaa) and educator (kasvattaja) are of the same root and synonymous with the growth in nature). Hannah Arendt describes the significance of activity for humankind and the potential power: power can be understood as an opportunity when equals are acting together. The strategies of contemporary art will be analysed by means of written data of two successive Documentas (major contemporary art exhibition held in Kassel, Germany every five years). Curator Chus Martinez´s thoughts about non-concept, artistic research, vacillation and the importance of maybe accompany to the potential and possible. This means that contemporary art vacillates: fiction, imagination and the need to understand are central – rather than the need to be or prove something right. In emphasizing imagination and fiction, contemporary art meets Hollo´s thoughts. In addition, contemporary art is increasingly materialized as action, and this can be juxtaposed with Arendt´s thoughts about uniqueness of human being and his/her need to become visible when acting in the space of appearance. Action is valuable in its own right: the human being would not be human, if he/she was not given the possibility to act. The premise of the worlds of education/upbringing and art are in pluralism and diversity, in the vastness and abundance of possibilities, and neither of them should be adopted as an instrument the goals of which are defined from outside. The context of art is therefore a natural companion to education, especially if education is defined in Hollo´s terms. Some kind of vacillation and maybe is present: like art, education vacillates – we cannot force anyone to grow up, it will always remain a maybe. It is still of utmost importance to generate opportunities to act. This research indicates that art education has a significant role in this: it has a possibility to offer a specific and open space for action that is free from other expectations or ambitions of society. That space can be understood as a space of appearance or a temporary autonomous zone, where an individual can learn to ask his/her own questions and become visible as a unique human being. Initiator of action – art educator in my research – has an important role in creating that space. Because this space vacillates (space of appearance will not emerge automatically when people gather together, according to Arendt), it is essential to be aware of the objectives of action, to verbalize these objectives, to stay humble as an educator and to incessantly ask: does art or education serve in this very moment the whole vastness of life or is it narrowed down as an instrument? It is also important to read deeds and actions through art: this is how vacillation and pluralism will persist.
Translated title of the contributionMaybe-Art Maybe-Education – Education and Potential Power in the Light of the Strategies of Contemporary Art
Original languageFinnish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Sederholm, Helena, Supervising Professor
  • Sederholm, Helena, Thesis Advisor
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8504-3
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8505-0
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Keywords

  • art
  • education
  • art education
  • contemporary art
  • power

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