On Blending Pedagody and Performative Art Practices

What does it mean to work as an artist in the field of education?
What kind of input and output can be anticipated or expected?
How can educators create, teach and develop artistic methods for use in a variety of educational situations?
How can we, as artists, make use of teaching and education as an artistic practice?

As an artist and educator, I aim to dissolve the borders between teaching, art and life. With a hidden agenda, I enter different educational situations to borrow the students, teachers, friends and others to participate in various artistic, educational and nontheatrical performances (to cite Kaprow). I mix teaching with art, performance, and everyday life with various fictions and fantasies. An important source of inspiration to my practice is the interdisciplinary field of performance studies. As an artistic method, I create playgrounds of different forms. Within these playgrounds, or frames, we can experiment and play out ideas that emerge from the blurring of art, life and pedagogy. The dissolution of disciplines is, to me, a logical consequence of how contemporary and institutionalized art, and art education, have developed and progressed. As educators, we are trained within a contemporary context, where participation and cooperation are common components. Education stemming from an artistic perspective creates a dynamism that allows the participants to approach the world from different and diverse perspectives.
I work with education from a performative and a dialogical perspective. Performative, in the manner in which the participants, including myself, integrate actions, experiences, and knowledge into the learning situation. This relational and blurred approach to teaching, an approach that incorporates art, method, and media, opens new ways of thinking and acting. Performance and performative methods feature strongly within art and education. In my practice, I aim to open a wide and sensual understanding of what it means to perform by practicing a variety of performance methods. All of the senses, taste, smell, touch, hearing, seeing and looking, as well as the use of improvisation, nonsense, and imagination are important in the animation of what we learn. Performative practice is a way for students to gain practice-based knowledge. By utilizing various aspects of performance, a variety of existential reasons which lie behind the pursuit of education, such as to create or locate happiness, feelings of fulfillment, passion, or curiosity, can be identified. It is important to look beyond the end result of creative practice. It is crucial to present other ways of thinking and living, especially at a time when we, as a society, are being forced, in our language and in our everyday lives, to adapt to economic terms and systems. Performance is a process-based method that refuses to see and treat fellow citizens as commodities.

Working with different performance and performative methods, means also to be involved in games, plays and rituals. Uncertainty and nonsense are a part of the process, and at times, the outcome. Part of my work, in facilitating performative exercises, is to be brave enough to deal with these uncertainties. Performance in the field of art and education must be about more than striving towards a good grade, coveted position, or call from a jet set curator, but about being involved in life itself.

Art and learning can animate and bring new ideas and possibilities into the world. Here we have a mission and opportunity to artistically design futures and create a society where happiness, participation, democracy and empathy are important objectives.

To teach is to perform!

FREDRIC GUNVE February 2013