Nato Thompson, Chief Curator, Creative Time

“For anarchy in arts education,” states the tagline for the Bruce High Quality Foundation’s Teach 4 Amerika road trip. Certainly the word anarchy can bring to mind some sort of food fight in a cafeteria with art students making mashed potatoes sculptures, performing spontaneous Paul McCarthy actions with spaghetti and teachers pulling their hair out in horror. The catchphrase lends a campy punk rock feeling that lingers around much of the work of the Bruce High Quality Foundation. Yet simultaneously this silly provocation also belies a deeper commitment to that non-hierarchal model of organizing known as anarchism.

The point of Teach 4 Amerika is the simple reconsideration of the mission, and structure of art schools. Taking anarchy into the classroom means returning the decision making power back to the students who are paying incredibly large sums for their education. As the Bruce High Quality Foundation has for the last two years been operating their own free ad-hoc self organized art school, their road trip across America is meant to inspire and discuss alternatives, options, restructuring, and possibility. This pedagogic narrative is inextricably linked to a growing interest in contemporary art that theorist Irit Rogoff dubbed, “the pedagogic turn”.

An open-ended series of questions and conversations, the project arrives on the heels of massive education protests in London and California. As the privatization of education crashes head on into a world in recession (with neoliberal advocates at the helm of many governments), the pressure is on to stick the bill to students. More than a series of questions, the discussions are meant as points of conversation. What will it lead to? What will be the outcome? Like the ethos of an open-ended education itself, for the Bruce High Quality Foundation, the open-ended narrative is enough. The project aims to first put the crisis of art education on the table and ask art students, “What do you want?”


9 Responses to Curatorial Statement

  1. Therese Quinn says:

    Are you coming to SAIC? We have art students, art education students, and very high prices. We can find a room if you want it.

  2. BHQF says:

    We’ll be at Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago on April 7th. Get the word out to SAIC!

  3. How about bringing the whole thing to Edinburgh in August where we are planning a ‘Public Art Summer School’ in conjunction with the Edinburgh College of Art as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. The Summer School will engage with similar questions but with the involvement of members of the public as co-producers of public art. Obvious cost implications etc. to be addressed but how does the idea grab you? Big Things on the Beach is a community led public arts trust in Portobello, Edinburgh’s City Beach where we have been comissioning artists to work with us for the past seven years. I will be in New York in early September if we need to schedule in some face to face.

  4. Blanche Bruce says:

    To raise open ended questions with no suggestions for alternatives is not anarchy. It’s bullshit.

  5. Hank Bishop says:

    I’m really interested information on two things, the first is the self organized school you are operating and the second is more information on the foundation. where can I find out more?

  6. You would never, ever see this in America: UK Artists/Musicians support student protests with their cash:

    In the U. S. we are lucky if we can entice college students to vote, much less protest. It’s only been recently at Penn State with huge cuts been threatened by Gov. Corbett and in Wisconsin(you all know what’s going on there) that students have mobilized. In PA it’s clearly a move towards the privatization of affordable state college education.

  7. Bobbing for Cocoa Puffs says:

    One can’t separate the cost of graduate school from the economy as a whole. We have a tax structure in the USA that explicitly gives existing wealth increasing capitalization each year. Countries that do this to a lesser extent do not have 300 trillion in debt and can offer graduate education for free (scandinavia, much of europe, china, russia, parts of south and central america .. ). What subsidizes graduate education is upper and upper-middle class wealth accumulation. Instead of these people paying taxes, they have the privilege to pay for education directly, rather than have these funds funneled through the state.

    In this context, arguing for anarchy is more or less arguing for Libertarianism — which would mean the destruction of all public funding for public education at all levels until a new structure could emerge.

    Unless this reading is way off — what is BHQF arguing for here? What do words like “anarchy” mean? Are these just MFAs who feel ripped off and pissed off that they bought a quite obvious illusion? That the art market can’t sustain all of them and getting teaching jobs isn’t a guarantee, either?

    Or maybe this is an oblique publicity stunt for themselves, whether they know it or not? Hoping to in fact leverage art market or teaching success? ? I don’t mean to be overly cynical, but this economy is not a surprise — the policies have been clear for thirty years. Maybe Creative Time should buy up a town with endless foreclosures and start a subsidized co-housing community?

  8. [...] Teach4Amerika – as their rasta-dyed t-shirt proclaims the mission – has a curatorial statement that goes straight to  defining “anarchy” as a “non-hierarchical” approach to organizing a new kind of art school. And  organizing, per the gang of  BHQF five, is organized around the formative idea, according to one of their number (James?), that “credentialized education is choking off possibilities for arts.” [...]

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