in Curating, ZHdK
1% Art: Instituting an Art Department at the Berufsfachschule Baden (BBB) – A Case Study
2 January 2011–30 June 2015
Christian Ratti, Interpixel (Philippe Sablonier/Eva-Maria Würth), Eric Andersen, Eva Pautlische/ Uta Weyrich, San Keller, Sören Brenner, Luc Mattenberger
In October 2011 Berufsfachschule Baden (BBB) instituted its own Art Department – thus far a unique project in Switzerland. For eight years BBB will offer a complimentary educational programme on art – processual and open-ended. From 2011 till 2015 curator Nadja Baldini has directed the BBB Art Department and has written her MAS-Thesis about the project. It is entitled: Curating education: How to act cuartorally in a conflicted field?
For almost four years the Art Department BBB has been grappling with different notions and expectations as to what exactly art can, should and wants to do at a vocational college and how such ideas can be implemented. It has thereby challenged the role of mediation in many ways – through its experimental programming, which has highlighted fundamentally different artistic practices. All the projects have responded in specific ways to the crisscrossing discourses within the institution and challenged them on different levels and from different angles. Effect and outcome played a minor part; more important were the collective act of scrutinising the basic premises of education and the conditions under which students can experience art.
One of the main drivers of the project has been the question as to which ideas and concepts of art and art mediation are present and operative at a vocational college such as the BBB, and what differences exist among different stakeholders such as school administrators, teachers and trainees. The institution itself thus turned into a research field, allowing group-specific surveys regarding individual expectations and hopes, assessments of the purpose of art in the context of a vocational college, and not least the (added) value which the Art Department ought to provide for its students. In light of the increasing economisation of education and the present debate on creativity the discussion about the value and purpose of art is not entirely unproblematic, but this precisely makes it interesting with respect to the situation at Baden: It challenges the service function of the Art Department and raises questions as to how affirmatively and reproductively its mediation relates to the requirements of the institution or, in other words, to what extent it considers itself to be a critical and transformative art-mediation practice.
With contributions by Christian Ratti, Interpixel (Philippe Sablonier/Eva-Maria Würth), Eric Andersen, Eva Pautlische/Uta Weyrich, San Keller, Sören Brenner, Luc Mattenberger