Nov. 8th & 9th, 2013 KW Institute for Contemporary Art

On the 8th & 9th November 2013 GNYP organised the symposium Educating Artists? together with Kunstwerke Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin.

Symposium ‘Educating Artists’, Nov. 8th & 9th 2013, Kunst-Werke, Berlin from Gnyp Art on Vimeo.

(Pictures are taken by Grzegorz Lepiarz)

©Grzegorz Lepiarz

Introduction by Els van Odijk, director Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Introduction by Dominic van den Boogerd, director De Ateliers

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

First Panel with Vivian Sky Rehberg, Dominic van den Boogerd, Ariane Beyn, Joep van Liefland, Marie Cathleen Haff

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Willem de Rooij

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Performance by Feiko Beckers

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Day 2, Keynote speech by Jennifer Allen

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Second Panel with Natasha Ginwala, Adriana Arroyo, Esper Postma, Karin Sander and Willem de Rooij

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Natasha Ginwala moderating the panel Artist, Tutor, Student

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Willem de Rooij and Karin Sander

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Third Panel with Jennifer Allen, Eric Ellingsen, Jurriaan Benschop, Angela Bulloch and Els van Odijk

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Jennifer Allen, Eric Ellingsen and Jurriaan Benschop

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Camera for live-stream

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Forth Panel with Kirsty Bell, Nadine Zeidler, Bojan Sarcevic, Verina Gfader, Uwe Schwarzer and AA Bronson

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

AA Bronson

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Performance ‘Wholeheartedly’, by Rory Pilgrim, courtesy De Hallen Haarlem

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Audience participation

photo by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Audience participation

Educating Artists? is a two-day symposium dealing with recent developments in artist education. Addressing different educational models, the relationship between artist, tutor & student, between theory and skills, while approaching the subject from an ‘outside’ and ‘inside’-perspective, the symposium attempts to reach for new and alternative methods in artist education.

The question about a new art academy in Berlin has caused a vigorous debate this year; in Amsterdam its most famous ‘second-phase’ institutions, being the Rijksakademie and De Ateliers, have faced dramatic subsidy-cuts. Meanwhile residency programs DAAD and De Ateliers both celebrate their 50th birthday this year and new educational models like Autocenter’s Summer Academy and UdK’s Institut für Raumexperimente are offering alternative programs. In light of the growing discussion, the symposium offers a creative platform to reflect upon these educational developments.

The symposium is divided into four panels spread over two days, each day concluded with a specifically arranged performance. Questions that will be addressed are: In what way do structural hierarchies in education systems influence the relation between tutor and student? How do educational institutions respond to the increased professionalization of the job of the artist? How is the quest for alternative models symptomatic for broader transformations in education/culture? How do theory and practice come together in artist education? In which way does the academy or the post-academic institution partake in the contemporary art world?

Speakers include: Jennifer Allen, Adriana Arroyo, Kirsty Bell, Jurriaan Benschop Ariane Beyn, Dominic van den Boogerd, AA Bronson, Angela Bulloch, Eric Ellingsen, Verina Gfader, Natasha Ginwala, Marie Haff, Joep van Liefland, Els van Odijk, Esper Postma, Vivian Sky Rehberg, Willem de Rooij, Karin Sander, Bojan Sarcevic, Uwe Schwarzer and Nadine Zeidler.

In an attempt to offer an alternative perspective on the topic of artist education, Feiko Beckers (’83, NL) and Rory Pilgrim (’88, UK) were asked to respond to this subject through their artistic practice and experience. Their performances will take place respectively on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th.

You can make reservations at:

Or, If you can not attend the symposium in person, we are streaming the event live and for free. Since the symposium includes so many international speakers, and because the topic of artist education is such a relevant one, we offer the possibility of watching it online. Simply click on the following link and you’ll be directed to the stream. Neither logins nor passwords are necessary. Just click on this link and you’ll be directed to the livestream page.

Nov. 8th

16.00 – 16.30 Introduction by Ellen Blumenstein, Dominic van den Boogerd, Els van Odijk

16.30- 18.00 First panel on The Amsterdam Model vs. other models with Dominic van den Boogerd, Ariane Beyn, Joep van Liefland , Vivian Sky Rehberg, Marie Haff

18.00 -18.30 Performance by Feiko Beckers

Nov 9th

10.00-10.30 Keynote speech by Jennifer Allen

10.30 – 12.00 Second panel on Artist, Tutor, Student with Adriana Arroyo, Natasha Ginwala, Esper Postma, Willem de Rooij, Karin Sander.

12.00-12.30 Coffee break

12.30 -14.00 Third Panel on Will Theory die like Skill did with Jennifer Allen, Jurriaan Benschop, Eric Ellingsen, Els van Odijk, Angela Bulloch

14.00-15.30 Lunch break

15.30-17.00 Forth Panel on What do Artists Want
with Kirsty Bell, AA Bronson, Verina Gfader, Bojan Sarcevic, Uwe Schwarzer

17.00-17.30 Questions

18.00 Performance by Rory Pilgrim

The symposium is organized in close collaboration with the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, De Ateliers and KW Institute for Contemporary Art with the generous support of the Dutch embassy in Berlin.

What Artists Want

October 30th 2013 – by Wouter Bernhardt

It was still very early when I entered a large courtyard somewhere in Kreuzberg. The rain had soaked my cheap, green sneakers and my fogged out pair of glasses could not find any sign of a big production company on this site. So I called Uwe and let him know I had arrived.

Uwe Schwarzer is a bit of a shy looking fellow, about 1.75m tall, half long hair and carrying a gentle smile. He came to pick me up from the courtyard, led me to a small elevator and before I knew it I was on the third floor observing Uwe while he carefully operated an ancient, but well designed espresso-machine.

Terence Koh, GOD; part of love for eternity / 2008 / wood, plastic, plaster, black wax, fabric, Eau d / ca. 800 × 110 × 150 / Courtesy: MUSAC, Lèon

When we first conceived the symposium on artist education, in May of this year, we immediately thought of involving someone like Uwe; a person who isn’t involved in educational institutions or methods, though has studied at an art academy – the class of John Armleder at Braunschweig in Uwe’s case. Someone who works with artists on a daily basis, someone who understands that before an artwork comes into this world, it has to be produced, to be transformed from an idea into a material.

John Armleder, Untitled / 1997 / wallpainting / dimension variable / Courtesy: Massimo de Carlo, Milano

The workshop where we were having our coffee looked a bit small for the extensive production company that mixedmedia berlin claimed to be. They produce artwork for a lot of well-known artists like Olafur Eliasson, Urs Fischer, Liam Gillick, Georg Baselitz, Carsten Höller and appearantly also this work by Amalia Pica. Uwe laughed when I asked him about the small space and told me that he would give me a tour of the building(s) a little later on. First we were to discuss the outlines of the panel What Artists Want for which we had invited him to participate.

Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Warm Regards / 2006 / pu-foam, chrome coating, steel, wood, plexiglass / 250 × 250 × 240 cm / Courtesy: Martin Klosterfelde, Berlin

By now his business associate Thomas Hüsmann and art critic Kirsty Bell had joined us and I was glad that I could switch to English for a little while. As moderator of the panel Kirsty had requested for small meetings with each panel member to get to know their interests and specialties. Other panel members are Bojan Sarcevic, a visual artist who studied at the Rijksakademie and is currently tutor at De Ateliers, Verina Gfader, an artist and writer living in London who recently wrote a book on art and radical pedagogy, AA Bronson, an artist and curator for whom education comes as part of his artistic practice, and Nadine Zeidler, art collector and director of Berlin-based gallery Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler.

Mona Hatoum, Bunker / 2011 / mild steel / 23 mild steel tubing structures, dimensions variab / Courtesy: White Cube, London; Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Kirsty asked Uwe how they commence the production of a work; do the artists come with a well-designed blueprint or with half-finished installations? What is expected of the artist when he or she wants to outsource their production to mixedmedia berlin? For Uwe and Thomas it does not really matter how an artist presents his or her plan, as long as they have an idea and are able to communicate this idea to the team. This can be done in the form of a neatly printed reader or a small sketch on a napkin.

I asked whether they ever turn down a plan. Uwe responded by saying that the only reason for mixedmedia to refuse an idea, is when they simply lack the capacity for reaching the deadline in time. This is an interesting remark because it says a lot on the determination and work-flow of Uwe and his team. ‘But what if it is a bad idea?’ I continued. ‘Then we’ll have to work on it,’ Uwe replied.

Tomás Saraceno, Social ..Quasi social .. Solitary .. Spiders … On hybrid cosmic webs / 2013 / MDF, LED, transformer, plexiglas / 90,5 × 90,5 × 46 cm / Courtesy: Esther Schipper, Berlin

It turns out that there are plenty of ideas that don’t get realized by this production company from Kreuzberg. What Uwe explained, however, is that when an artist walks into their workshop, they are not always looking for immediate technical support. The contribution of mixedmedia can be as much as half an hour of advice, talking about what materials to use, about time-planning and transportation, on solving production problems in the artists’ studio, in any case you will benefit from decades of experience.

Katharina Grosse, They Had Taken Things Along To Eat / 2012 / wool, synthetic, spraypaint, mixedmedia / 71,4 × 118,4 cm / Courtesy: Katharina Grosse und VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn & Johann König, Berlin; photo:Nic Tenwiggenhorn

And this experience is just what makes Uwe’s participation to the symposium so interesting. Being taught as an artist, Uwe stresses that an idea is the most important aspect of any work of art. But for this idea to make it into the realm of art, it must find some form of communication. ‘Even in a time where outsourcing the production of your idea can be done fairly easily,’ Uwe pleaded, ‘having experience with different materials, with organizing a production-process and planning your steps ahead will not only ease our job, but will greatly improve the efficiency of any artist.’ But the question remains; is that what artists want?

‘What artists want’ is the topic of one of four panels in our symposium Educating Artists? held Nov. 8th & 9th at KW Institute for Contemporary Art. Reservation necessary:


Educating Artists?

Oct. 3th 2013 – by Wouter Bernhardt

On Nov. 8th and 9th the symposium Educating Artists? takes place at Kunst-Werke in Berlin. Together with the Rijksakademie and De Ateliers in Amsterdam, and KW and the Dutch embassy in Berlin, Gnyp Art readdresses the ever tricky topic of how one educates artists.

So far being part of the organization of this exciting two-day seminar has been a blast. It’s an amazing topic to engage with and there’s a whole bunch of interesting people involved, Willem de Rooij, Jennifer Allen and AA Bronson for example. Though, there has been a question on my mind quite a lot lately. How am I, as a non-participant, able to address the issue of artist education?

To get a grip on that question we need to establish whether I am actually a non-participant. And by doing that, we really need to address, who are the participants? Who are the people participating in artistic educating programs, who are benefitting from art schools, and who influences their development? The question is what agents are vying for the different positions within the field of artist education?

Obviously artists seem to appreciate art schools. That is, if one can consider a student at an art academy an artist yet. As different sources tend to explain the role of the academy differently – as ‘an institution that offers a training to become an artist’ or ‘an institution that breaks with the old master-apprentice relation’ – it’s hard to define the people that matriculate into these academies.

It is clearer when one looks at residencies and other post academic programs. The demands of enrolling into one of these programs usually consist of a finished academic degree and/or several years of individual practice. The problem of involving these so-called ‘second-phase’ programs into the debate of education is that one can debate whether they actually educate, which usually involves some sort of moulding, upbringing or schooling.

The second group of participants are of course those who teach at the academies. But who are they? Artists? Art historians? Critics and writers? Or perhaps the technical staff running the workshops? Maybe all of the above. How about academies that operate according to the principle ‘each one should teach one’, which would only leave room for artists teaching artists? As I wrote in my last article on this topic, there is however a general notion on what teachers should bring along, which is; experience in the art field, knowledge of the position that artists and academies occupy within that field, and lastly, a broad and diverse network within the world outside of the academy.

And that last element bridges the gap to my final question, whether there is an ‘outside’ of the academy, and if there is, should this outside be part of the discussion? Most academies seem to be struggling between being open and transparent institutions on the one hand, thus exposing themselves and their students to the scary and ‘real’ art world, and being protective and opaque on the other hand, withdrawing themselves from society and its outside agents. But what to think of politicians and governments providing funds, gallery-owners and art dealers providing exposure, productions companies and technical facilitators providing creative freedom, not even to mention the audience consuming the arts. Why shouldn’t they be involved in the discussion on educating artists?

I have come to notice that this entry has become an entry of questions, and for that I apologize. Luckily the symposium at KW on November 8th and 9th will have a great variety of specialized agents discussing these questions and, obviously, answering all of them.

What I have become to realize is how important it is to discuss the ‘who’ in the discussion on educating artists, that I myself am a not-so-direct-participant, but a participant nonetheless, and lastly that discussions on new notions of artist education should be derived from a general notion of who are in- and who are excluded from its artistic premises. By opening up the discussion and allowing different methods and perspectives, we might be able to alter our view on the matter of educating and artists entirely.


In Between

August 14th 2013 – by Wouter Bernhardt

For this post I asked three graduates from the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam to reflect on their art education. All of them are currently in between two phases of artistic development. In September Vincent Knopper will start at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam, Tim Mathijsen will begin his two year period at the newly fused Rijksakademie/De Ateliers, and Esper Postma will travel to Germany to continue his adventure at the Städelschule in Frankfurt.

Vincent Knopper

For me the most important difference between a bachelor in art education and a post-academic education is the specification and the focused forms of research. What characterizes my time at the Rietveld Academy is the way you are confronted with yourself and the many forms that art can adopt. It is this valuable process that I preserve dearly and which provides me with an important structure for the future.

Vincent Knopper, Object 006.1.2

At the same time the boundaries of an art institution like the Rietveld Academy can also prove to be obstructive. The whole idea of art education being crammed into the differently structured Bachelor-system does not contribute to the development of a potential artist. It forces the students to present their work at specific times, while in my opinion the artist himself should be able to decide when and where to present their work.

Vincent Knopper, Object 001.3.2

Besides that, you are confronted with the regulations of the institute itself, which are derived from socially implemented Christian values. These systems consist of specific opening times, environment regulations and other rules that limit the natural development of the students. If an artist creates his best work at three o’clock in the morning, where is he able to do this?

Vincent Knopper, Object 003.4

In my post-academic education I think I will find a means of specifying that which I have developed so far at the Rietveld Academy. It is a new environment with like-minded people, where personal counseling has a high priority and where your artistic practice does not get interrupted by a forced final exam.

Tim Mathijsen

When I think about how my education at the Rietveld Academy has contributed to my development as an artist, I would have to say that it had it’s greatest value working as a series of catalysts that have enabled me to develop autonomous ideas and practice as a person. On this one-man-track, you go through in your years of study, some catalysts (teachers, fellow students, community, exposure etc.) might work as an atomic chain reaction, others just leave you right where you started. The most important thing in this is to learn where to find, and how to enable, your “atomic chain reaction catalysts”. I think that helping students find their way in this process is one of the biggest ways an academy can contribute to their artistic maturity.

Tim Mathijsen, Untitled

Another important point I want to bring up is learning how to deal with your material as an artist, what ever this might be. Here I don’t solely mean being able to mold your clay into the perfect shape, or knowing how to construct with wood, metal or plaster. What I mean is how to deal with your materials as visual entities with a million possible references to them. This was where my study was very beneficial. I lost a bit of my naivety in dealing with the visual communication of art, and gained a perspective as if I had learned a new language.

Tim Mathijsen, Untitled

Learning this language has been very important to my peers and me, but there is also a seeming symptomatic other side to having a curriculum so much based on developing the discourse of your concept at hand. This is where I felt there was a lack of gaining some true physical material knowledge. It might seem a bit contradictory to what I just stated, but knowing how to discuss materials does not always go hand in hand with knowing how to work with these materials on their own merits.

Tim Mathijsen, Untitled

As for my expectations on my further education at the Rijksakademie/Ateliers I don’t know so well how this will contribute to my artistic practice yet. I hope that at these institutes I will be exposed to a great many of these catalysts to contribute to my ongoing study. Many more than I have been exposed to so far. The fact of the matter is also that these institutes have such a good reputation that, besides the fact that this comes with quite some responsibility, I will be on a whole other plateau, with more backers than I’ve had before and there for more opportunities than I’ve had before.

Esper Postma

During my time at the Rietveld Academy I missed a great deal of theoretical knowledge of contemporary art, art history and philosophy. I think it is really important that students relate themselves to fellow artists, even to the most accomplished ones. From a very early stage this makes the work more mature and ambitious. By studying art history one can position himself and their art in the art world.

Esper Postma, Still from 'Betere Betrekkingen'

The academy is doing a great job in substracting their student’s interests. Personally the academy taught me to translate my own abstract ideas into form. It taught me to investigate myself, be critical and accept responsibility for my actions. It does so by creating a great deal of uncertainty. In my opinion good art educations do not grant certainty, they do not shape a path for you, but motivate you to chose your own path.

Esper Postma, 'Expressions'

Artists themselves should be capable of choosing the form of education that fits their specific needs. That does not mean that only artists should be involved in the student’s development. Theorists and other professionals are really important too. Though I do find the best art teachers to be the ones who still occupy a place in the art world, who still produce and make exhibitions and, preferably, are successful doing so. They have a great feeling for the contemporary, are more flexible and creative in their thinking, and tend to empathize more with the thinking of their students.

Esper Postma, Poralgosera

Having great artists as teachers also maintains the contact with the world outside the academy. Creating bonds with other fields can also establish this, which is why my ideal art academy could be part of a university – as is the case in London. Here, students are motivated to exchange knowledge with students from other disciplines and have the possibility of following special courses. Art questions society and should be able to question specific aspects of that society. That is why it is important to take an interest in all of these components.

Lastly, a post-academic institution should allow the students to work in total freedom, in an environment which main focus is to facilitate. At such an institution everything is in service of the artist. It is a luxury position.


Some Thoughts on Art Education

July 10th 2013 – by Wouter Bernhardt

In an article published on artist and curator Anton Vidokle comments on current developments in artistic practice. He states that “recent large-scale international art exhibitions…point out a strong desire…to show their work as transformative social projects…”. He then challenges the idea of an exhibition as the ideal instrument for this undertaking.


So then what is the ideal instrument to render art as socially relevant? According to Vidokle art education is a far more effective way of bringing your message across, to be more precise, Exhibition as School as Work of Art. In 2006 he founded Unitednationsplaza, an experimental and temporary art school, located in an abandoned building in East Berlin – on which is elaborated in the Artlies-article. With this 12-month project, E-flux-founder Vidokle not only questioned the need for another over-the-top exhibition, he also introduced a radical new approach to educating art.

But first, what is it actually that art education is supposed to do or teach? I myself studied art history at the University of Amsterdam. Being educated as a scholar I had to learn to navigate intricate library systems, specific literary notations and a distinguished academic vocabulary. I am – or at least should be – able to recognize, position and interpret stylistic elements in artworks. My task in this world is clear, to boldly go where no one has gone before, or, less romantic, to critically examine the work of my predecessors and, minding the academic conventions, carefully construct new art historic content.

Thinking about art education however, things are a bit different. First of all, methods on teaching art have seen quite some change over the years, from extensive long-term apprenticeships to college-centred art universities. There is also a significant difference as to where one applies for ones education. When traveling abroad, or even when comparing institutions located in the same city, education methods broadly differ from program to program.

Cover of Frieze d/e magazine

Then isn’t there any common ground, a starting point from which to start a discussion on educating art? Isn’t there a mutual idea on what the values of any art-educating institution must look like? In the April-May issue of Frieze d/e magazine, thirty experts were invited to respond to the question whether or not Berlin needs a new art academy. Among the reflections were simple rejections of a new institution, as were there futuristic ideas for new buildings and radically new teaching methods.

I’d like to conclude however on a more general note. From the thirty opinions I took a few points that I found to be truly helpful in thinking about a framework for any new art educating body, no matter how experimental. While some of them might seem obvious, others prove to be more questionable. To end with Vidokle; an art institution, like any other institution, has a hang toward formerly established rules, which, if not reinvented, turns students into a replica of their preceding generation.

An art school

o … is a space for exchange, exploration, communication and learning.
o … can’t guarantee success (for example, by handing out degrees).
o … has a broad and diverse network.
o … emphasizes the process as opposed to the final product.
o … is a think-tank.
o … prepares artists to become independent, self-sufficient artists.
o … provides models to prepare artists for the outside world.
o … is provided for by artists themselves (Each one, teach one).
o … is however not an all-in-one package.

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