The School of Walls and Space. The Royal Academy of the Visual Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark

The School of Walls and Space investigates contemporary notions of space, its production, privatization and the role of the artist as a critical and political agent within it, and uses both traditional and more experimental pedagogical methods.

The School is a department that encourages the development of an inter-disciplinary research-based practice. It balances individual mentoring with collective group activities. The school uses traditional pedagogical methods: group and one-to-one crits, seminars and talks, in conjunction with the exploration of more experimental collaborative teaching models which the School researches and develops collectively. These include brain storming techniques, games, charettes, group activities, actions, group therapy techniques and happenings. It also explores historical practices, such as psychogeography and the derive, and the experimental teaching methods of Paolo Freire, bell hooks, Augusto Boal and Colin Ward, amongst others. Academic groundwork in the history and theory of the emergence and production of public space is developed through a series of readings, lectures and seminars. Field-trips, tours, walks and excursions are an integral component of the School’s activities, using a ‘School Without Walls’ methodology where the spaces, zones and ecologies of the city become the classroom – parks, squares, plazas, ecological experiments, collective farms, housing projects, cooperatives, public artworks and other interesting or problematic urban planning developments. International cities and towns are considered as potential sites of investigation. Parallel to these activities – issues and topics related to the public sphere and public art are discussed. A specific issue or theme is chosen by the group to be researched, discussed and developed into a final project each year. These include more focused workshops over a period of a few days with invited participants; individual guest visits, reading groups and projects. Also related to each project is the development of a reading list, a library, archive, and film events.

Networks are developed with other schools in the Academy as well as with local, national and international university departments and art schools. Close links with visiting artists, architects, urban planners, landscape architects, curators and scientists are developed.

Students develop and organise their own activities together through a series of meetings through the year and decisions are made using consensus based models of agreement, these methods of consensus are agreed upon by the group that is present that academic year as a form of group process. The department’s budget is available to the students and accessible to them in order for them to develop their ideas and also practically organise activities – this is seen as an important part of their education. Workshops, research strands and learning forums are maintained through a constant ongoing group discussion and evaluation. The notion of an art praxis rather than artistic production is central to the departments ethos. The department is led by Nils Norman.

The School has in the past had an ongoing Permaculture design course led by Poul Erik Pedersen (Landskabarkitekt, mdl). Which it hopes to reinstate soon.

Past and ongoing themes include: permaculture and the city; politics and art; culture and gentrification; post-capitalism and therapy; self-organisation and counter-culture; Autonomy in Crisis; bioremediation, food and fermentation; alternative education and Utopia.

Guests and collaborators with the department include: Julie Ault, Martin Beck, Franco Berardi, Madeleine Bernstorff, Iain Boal, Mikkel Bolt and Jakob Jakobsen, George Caffenzis, Curatorial Action, Anthony Davies, Anna Davin, Silvia Federici, Luca Frei, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Emma Hedditch, Brian Holmes, Stewart Home, John Jordan, Lasse Lau, Mayday Rooms, Learning Site, Openhagen and Howard Slater.

One comment

  1. Pingback: ‘Research. After the Butcher. Berlin. 13 April – 19 May 2012. | wallsandspace

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