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Back to School
Curatorial Residency with Vesna Krstich

September 12 – 28, 2013

Gallery TPW is pleased to host a research residency organized by Toronto-based art historian, curator and educator Vesna Krstich. The Back to School residency re-envisions the TPW R&D storefront as an alternative classroom space for curriculum planning and experimentation, playing host to a series of school workshops, after-school programs and public events. The residency takes its cue from Project Other Ways, a Berkeley storefront educational space developed by Allan Kaprow and Herbert Kohl in the late 1960s. Used as a “storefront-environment-teacher-training-community,” Project Other Ways welcomed students, teachers, and artists wishing to experiment with the possibilities of using performance and conceptual art to teach reading, writing and community studies, by replacing existing curriculum plans with event plans. Back to School positions Project Other Ways as a model for thinking about the proliferation of ‘school’ platforms and the discursive, research-based models of production and presentation in the contemporary art world during the past decade, in which Gallery TPW has a conceptual investment. Reflecting on this trajectory, Krstich draws from her research on the textual and photographic documentation of Project Other Ways alongside her experience in spaces of “formal schooling” to performatively wonder what it would look like to use event-scores as curriculum plans. In doing so, the Back to School residency aims to generate critical questions about pedagogy and participation in both traditional classrooms and exhibition spaces.

Over three weeks the Back to School residency will host a range of school and public performance-based workshops, as well as screenings and discussions. Three general areas of inquiry guide the residency programming: The first week reflects on historic and contemporary ephemeral practices and the problems of their re-presentation and reinvention, in classrooms and in the broader social realm. The second week focuses on how people perform instructions across different institutional structures. Workshops will address the importance of creative disobedience, participant agency, authority and other collective-decision making strategies that attempt to redefine and question what it means to have an ‘open’ and democratic learning system. In the third week programs will explore the benefits and risks of alternative learning opportunities outside of formal systems. Discussions and workshops will focus on issues related to alternative education, self-directed learning, ad-hoc collectivity, anarchism and other unconventional schooling strategies. We invite you to join us exploring the possibilities of hybrid spaces with an equal commitment to thinking about arts and pedagogy.

Essential to the Back to School residency is the collaboration and participation of a diverse group of local and international educators, scholars, artists, curators and youth whose practices intersect with art and pedagogy. Contributors to the residency include Pawel Althamer, Ame Henderson, Jakob Jakobsen, Amish Morrell, Emily Pethick, Helen Reed & Hannah Jickling, Nerupa Somasale & Ana-Marija Stojic (from ‘The Torontonians’), Stephanie Springgay, Milena Tomic, Amber Yared, and Artur Żmijewski.

A full schedule of events is listed below. Stay tuned to the Gallery TPW Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates and reminders.




    Schedule of Programs

All events take place at
TPW R&D
1256 Dundas St West




Orientation Night


September 12, 2013, 7:00 pm

As a kick off to the Back to School residency, Gallery TPW will be holding a public orientation evening. Curator/educator Vesna Krstich will give a brief crash course on Project Other Ways, the alternative school experiment created by Allan Kaprow and Herbert Kohl in the late 60s that employed happenings as a form of radical pedagogy. Come hear about the questions driving the residency, the different day and night school programs, and sign up for workshops.




School Workshops

Pre-registration necessary
Mondays September 16 & 23, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm or 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Thursdays September 19 & 26, 4:30 – 6:00 pm

Hands-on activities with Elementary and High School students inspired by materials from the Project Other Ways archive and other performance materials.

Suppose you couldn’t write and could only take pictures.
Suppose you used graffiti as a textbook.
Suppose you saw basketball as a dance.

These workshops are inspired by some of the imaginative prompts proposed by artist Allan Kaprow, who claimed, that every SUPPOSE could function as a curriculum plan – a series of open-ended suggestions. The Back to School project will host workshops for teachers and students wishing to experiment with alternative and collaborative approaches to curriculum development using different performance art strategies and documents as tools. The sessions embrace spontaneity, speculation, collaborative decision-making, and play using ‘ordinary’ subjects to guide our imaginations. This might involve taking photos of random objects on the street, playing with sand or building sculptures out of chairs.
To book a group appointment contact: Yasmin Nurming-Por, Programming Assistant, yasmin@gallerytpw.ca.




Open Classroom for Research

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, daily 12:00 – 3:00 pm

Outside of pre-programmed sessions the Back to School residency space will remain open and accessible to the public. Whatever materials and documents appear over the course of the residency (in the form of notes, diagrams, images and archival reproductions) will remain in the space, and on display. Anyone is invited to consult the archival resources, listen to audio recordings of lectures, discussions or peruse readings.




Thursday Night Screenings

A North American premiere, a two-part screening of films by renowned Polish artists Artur Zmijewski and Pawel Althamer explores how instruction is performed and documented for the camera. Using teaching strategies taught to them as young sculpture students at the Warsaw Academy of Arts, the artists reflect back on their own education and explore the possibilities of learning outside the classroom.

Thursday September 19, 2013, 7:00 pm
Artur Zmijewski, Choices.pl. 2005
66 mins, followed by discussion

Polish artist Artur Zmijewski gathers together a motley crew of participants to carry out a learning experiment, hosted by the Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, Ujazdowski Castle. The artist, together with his former schoolmate and collaborator, Pawel Althamer, invited teachers and students of the Warsaw Academy of Art to respond to the perceived limitations of the curriculum of Grzegorz Kowalski, their former teacher. Modeled after Oscar Hansen’s theory of the Open Form, their teacher’s course employed a range of conceptual activities that were designed to explore the ‘didactics of partnership’ and the process of non-verbal collaboration. Historically held in the private space of the studio class with a select group of students, Zmijewski transplants the learning experiment into the gallery as a series of ‘interventions’ open to various social constituents, including children, escorts, family, and friends.

Artur Zmijewski is a Berlin and Warsaw based video artist. He represented Poland in the 2005 Venice Biennale and was included in Documenta 12. He was the curator of the 7th Berlin Biennale in 2012 titled Forget Fear. Zmijewski is also the Art Director of Krytyka Polityczna (Political Critique), a forum for left-wing political and cultural discourse in Poland: www.krytykapolityczna.pl. He is represented by Galerie Peter Kilchmann in Zurich.

Thursday September 26, 2013, 7:00 pm
Pawel Althamer, Einstein Class, 2005
35 mins, followed by discussion

When commissioned to make a project for Albert Einstein’s centenary in Berlin, Polish artist Pawel Althamer decided to use the funds to give physics classes to a group of ‘difficult youth’ from his neighborhood in Warsaw. Together with a science teacher the artist and the kids set up an alternative classroom in a rented building. Responding in part to Althamer’s disillusionment with the education system of his own childhood, the film chronicles the alternative school over the course of six months, which included conducting science experiments, taking part in field trips, and holding an outdoor science fair for their community.

Pawel Althamer is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Warsaw, Poland. Active since the late 1980s, Althamer was co-founder of young Polish artist collective Kowalnia. Working mainly within sculpture and performance, his work is invested in the politics of community formation, participation, and change. For the 2012 Berlin Biennale Althamer initiated a performance-based public social drawing project, The Draftsman’s Congress. Since the late 1990s Althamer has taught art workshops to and collaborated with a group of patients suffering from chronic illness, called Groupa Nowolipie.




International Correspondents Series: Saturday Skype-ins

Riffing on the corporate university model of ‘distance-learning’, Back to School offers the opportunity for a series of Skype conversations with international educators, museum professionals, artists, and critics from across the globe. These conversations will explore the intersection of current thinking on education, art gallery programming, and research-based practice.

Saturday, September 14, 2013, 2:00 pm
One Way or Another: Artist Talk
with Hannah Jickling and Helen Reed

Based on their residencies in various elementary school, high school and university classrooms, the artists join us via Vancouver to discuss their experiences working in-between art and education and the ways in which classroom encounters are exported or translated to other audiences.

Hannah Jickling & Helen Reed have worked together for the past 6 years. Their collaborative practice experiments with the possibilities of form, participation and meaning-making across disciplines and publics. Their projects take shape as videos, public installations, events, photographs, multiples, and printed matter. Helen holds a BFA from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, while Hannah earned hers from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Both completed their graduate studies in Art & Social Practice at Portland State University and have exhibited internationally. In 2012, they were artists-in-residence as part of The Pedagogical Impulse, a research project in Toronto developed with Stephanie Springgay. In 2013, Hannah and Helen were visiting artists at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design and looking forward to forthcoming residencies at the MacDowell Artists Colony (New Hampshire) and the Nida Artists Colony (Lithuania).

Saturday, September 21, 2013, 2:00 pm
A Conversation with Emily Pethick, Director of The Showroom in London, UK
Moderated by Stephanie Springgay

The Showroom is a unique space for contemporary art whose focus, in dialogue with local public schools and other community constituents, is collaborative and process-driven approaches to production – production of artwork, exhibitions, discussions, publications, knowledge and relationships. Emily Pethick joins us via London for a conversation about the work of The Showroom and how contemporary art institutional methodologies might evolve around the research-based practices they engage.

Emily Pethick has been the director of the Showroom in London since 2008. Through her tenure Pethick has integrated community based programming into the Showroom, initiating projects such as Communal Knowledge. She was the director of Casco (Utretcht) from 2005-2008. Between 2003-2004 she was the curator at Cubitt, London. She has contributed to numerous catalogues and magazines, including Frieze, dot dot dot, GAS, texte zur kunst, Artforum and Untitled, and edited books, including Casco Issues X: The Great Method, with Peio Aguirre, and Casco Issues XI with Marina Vishmidt and Tanja Widmann.

Stephanie Springgay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the intersections between contemporary art and pedagogy, with a particular interest in theories of movement and affect. Her most recent research-creation projects are documented at www.thepedagogicalimpulse.com and www.artistsoupkitchen.com. She has published widely in academic journals and is the co-editor of the bookM/othering a Bodied Curriculum: Theories and Practices of Relational Teaching, University of Toronto Press, with Debra Freedman; co-editor ofCurriculum and the Cultural Body, Peter Lang with Debra Freedman; and author of Body Knowledge and Curriculum: Pedagogies of Touch in Youth and Visual Culture, Peter Lang.

Saturday, September 28, 2013, 2:00 pm
The Antiuniversity, a Conversation with Jakob Jakobsen
Moderated by Amish Morrell

Jakob Jakobson will join us via Copenhagen for a conversation about deinstitutionalization, radical pedagogy and tself-organized education. We will discuss his most recent research on the Antiuniversity (1968), a short-lived educational experiment in emancipatory learning, communal living and radical politics in London, and the Copenhagen Free University (1999-2005).

Jakob Jakobsen is a visual artist, activist, and organizer. He is the Co-founder and first Chair of the UKK (Young Art Workers) in Denmark, and has recently been involved in organizing seminars and protests on migrant workers’ rights. Since 2001, Jakobsen has worked on the Copenhagen Free University, an artist-run institution dedicated to the production of critical consciousness and poetic language through alternative forms of collective knowledge production. A great influence within art-activist communities, the Copenhagen Free University has inspired the genesis of numerous other alternative education spaces around the world. Most recently Jakobsen participated in Documenta 13 in 2012 and was a distinguished visiting professor at University of British Colombia in March 2013.

Amish Morrell is Editor of C Magazine, a quarterly journal on contemporary international art, and Special Lecturer in Visual Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Morrell’s PhD dissertation examined how contemporary artists address conceptions of community and identity through the re-staging of historical images. He has written for publications including Art Papers, Ciel Variable, Fuse Magazine, History of Photography and Prefix Photo. Curatorial projects include The Frontier is Here, an exhibition of works by contemporary Canadian and international artists that explore landscape and identity, and The Walking Projects, a collaborative project to produce new artworks that investigate walking as aesthetic practice. He recently edited The Anti-Catalogue (The Model, 2010), a book on contemporary artists collectives.




Saturday Evening Open Studios

These classroom ‘experiments’ seek out inventive ways of using performance instruction as teaching strategies. All are welcome. Activities will be followed up with discussion.

Saturday, September 14, 2013, 7:00 pm
Place-Specificity and Global Fantasy: New Modalities of Reinvention
Lecture and discussion with Milena Tomic

We begin our Open Studio with some history. In this session, Milena Tomic discusses the difference between the “re-enactment” and the “reinvention” of Allan Kaprow’s Happenings and Environments. As Kaprow’s preferred term, “reinvention” was a reinterpretation of a given score or set of instructions. In contrast, “re-enactment” implied a mere copy of the first iteration. More recently, however, alternative approaches to reinvention have emerged. In 2006 and 2007, dance historian André Lepecki reinvented 18 Happenings in 6 Parts (1959) in a deliberately “dramaturgical,” “curatorial,” and “choreographic” way. Meanwhile, Mai Abu ElDahab and Philippe Pirotte called for artists to create new works rather than re-invent existing ones in A Fantasy for Allan Kaprow, a 2009 exhibition in Cairo. Considering a series of very different reinventions of Kaprow’s work by such artists as Josiah McElheny, William Pope.L, Sharon Hayes, Otobong Nkanga, and Ali Cherri, this talk asks the following questions: To what degree can reinvention differentiate itself from the historical work before the connection between them is obliterated? Can Kaprow’s work be reinvented in places outside the West where an adequate institutional and economic framework for contemporary art may be lacking? How does reinvention allow artists to interrogate assumptions about their own practices in a globalized world?

Milena Tomic is a Toronto-based art historian and critic who is currently teaching part-time at OCAD University. She holds a PhD in Art History from University College London where her research explored performance and re-enactment. Tomic has contributed to Art in America, ARTMargins Online, OBJECT: Graduate Articles and Reviews in Art History and Visual Culture, Fillip, C Magazine, Border Crossings, TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, and the Oxford Art Journal.

Saturday September 21, 2013, 7:00 pm
Making an Open Classroom Happen
Co-facilitated by Ame Henderson and Vesna Krstich

Join project curator Vesna Krstich and choreographer Ame Henderson in a collaborative and performative session working with both historic and contemporary performance instruction. Together we will examine what kinds of productive tensions can occur between choreographed movement and collaborative chaos, people and furniture, and reading and speaking within this hybrid gallery-classroom space.

In 1969 Herbert Kohl, an educator and central figure of the Open Schools movement, wrote a practical guide for teachers in a text entitled the Open Classroom. In it he described a progressive, non-authoritarian approach to learning in schools. Kohl posited a new type of ‘open’ classroom where chairs and desks were to be reconfigured to promote more collaborative learning environments. A pamphlet from the Project Other Ways archive compares an image of a conventional classroom, with chairs arranged in straight rows facing in one direction, and a new ‘open’ classroom, where people are seated in groups and clusters. Using this pamphlet as a curriculum blueprint, a new reading activity will be inspired by documentation from Kohl’s classroom environments, elements from Allan Kaprow’s Push and Pull: A Furniture Comedy for Hans Hoffmann as well as strategies inspired by Toronto performance atelier Public Recordings.

Ame Henderson lives in Toronto where she is the Artistic Director of Public Recordings, an atelier for choreographic experimentation. Committed to collaborative working structures both aesthetically and politically, she maintains ongoing collaborations with artists from across disciplines and continents. Recent research focuses on the political implications of the synchronous gesture and its potential as a collaboratively authored improvisatory practice of togetherness. Public Recordings recently presented “what we are saying” as part of Harbourfront’s World Stage (Toronto) and Festival Transmériques (Montreal).

Saturday, September 28, 2013, 7:00 pm
Dare Night: ‘The Torontonians’ Settle the ‘Score’
With Nerupa Somasale and Ana-Marija Stojic

Teachers, students, young and old anyone who dares – are invited to come and partake in a learning experiment with members of the teen performance art collective ‘The Torontonians’. Together we will work off of Fluxus and Happenings event scores and enact ones devised by ‘The Torontonians’ specifically for this event. This hands-on performance workshop investigates the educational potential of dares as a method of informal learning.

Nerupa Somasale and Ana Marija Stojic are members of youth performance art collective known as ‘The Torontonians’, a part of the Young Mammals division of Mammalian Diving Reflex. Together they create performance, video and other cultural products, devise mentorship programs, and build a network of artists, arts organizations and young people across the city. Nerupa Somasale is currently a student at Parkdale Collegiate Institute. A courageous and spirited young art enthusiast whose future ambition is to teach or work in the creative industry, her thirst for knowledge and adventure has inspired her to spearhead the on-going series of performances known as “Dare Night”. Ana-Marija Stojic is completing the Theatre and Community Arts Practice Certification Program at York University. Her direction credits include Excuse Me, Would You Like to Buy a Bar? and Sundance, both shown at the Fringe Festival. She interns and volunteers with ‘The Torontonians’, co-coordinating Dare Nights, Friday Night Labs, and Nightwalks with Teenagers.

Mammalian Diving Reflex is a research-art atelier founded in 1993 by Artistic Director, Darren O’Donnell. Dedicated to investigating the social sphere and bringing people of diverse age groups, economic and social backgrounds together in usual ways, they create challenging and thought-provoking site and social-specific performance events, theatre-based productions, gallery-based participatory installations, video products, art objects and theoretical texts. Supported of the Metcalf Foundation and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the company has received awards from Toronto Community Foundation and the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children, among others, and has produced events in more than 45 cities, both national and abroad. In 2011, Mammalian inaugurated the company’s first formal mentorship program for ‘The Torontonians’ called The Producers of Parkdale in partnership with the Gladstone Hotel.

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Curatorial Essay

by Vesna Krstich

Schedule

Download the full schedule of programming here

Vesna Krstich

Vesna Krstich is a Toronto-based educator, art critic and independent curator. Her research explores the interrelationship between art and experimental pedagogic practices from the 1960s onwards. She received her MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she specialized in Contemporary Art. Krstich’s writing has appeared in Art Papers, Parachute, C Magazine, Canadian Art, and Curator: The Museum Journal, among others.

Media Contact

For more information contact:
Kim Simon, Curator
kim [at] gallerytpw.ca