Nadja Baldini

Risking Education: Public Art in Public School

Curatorial Talk at 14th of October 2016, 6pm,
ZHdK, Room 6.Ko4

Art education is a controversial term. It is used by different parties and accordingly points in different directions. Long marginalized, the field of mediation since the end of the 1990s has experienced a cultural political revival. Almost all museums and cultural institutions are continuously developing their mediation, with a view to expanding their audience and addressing a “wider public”. In doing so, art education runs the risk of becoming a validating factor to legitimize publicly funded institutions and thus degenerating into a form of marketing. In my lecture I will focus on a different form of art education which thinks “from within art itself” and considers itself a critical practice. Using examples from my own curatorial work I will highlight ways of art education which may take place outside the traditional domain of art institutions and discuss issues and challenges which may arise as a result of such an approach. My particular interest lies in school environments. As places of mediation and the production of knowledge, schools occupy a crucial position in the debate about the role of the arts in education. It is my contention that if art is to take place in educational institutions and interfere in their existing structures it must itself proceed in an experimental and inquiring fashion. And the same applies to mediation: if it is to actively intervene and facilitate dialogue it must generate experimental situations and bring together different stakeholders and forms of knowledge without anticipating its destination and outcome. In this sense, my lecture will be a plea for a different form of curatorial mediation practice, and at the same time it will be a call to re-politicize public art (and education) funding as part of a critical public art discourse.

Nadja Baldini is a art historian, works and lives as an independent curator in Zurich. She is an alumna of the Postgraduate Programme in Curating MAS. Currently she is involved in various projects at the interface of art and education and is developing art mediation programmes/formats for public schools.