OurGoods, an online barter network, is running a pop-up storefront on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. That storefront is called Trade School and it’s a series of classes that centralizes the act of barter and exchange and a pop up classroom in New York City’s Lower East Side.
It works like this: “Take a class every night with a range of specialized teachers in exchange for basic items and services. Secure a spot in a Trade School class by meeting one of the teacher’s barter needs.”
We’ve written about this idea of informal education opportunities and spaces before and it remains a kind of long-term hope to see something like this get started in the area.
So, consider this just another post on the ongoing list of inspirational activities that we’d love to imagine having the time to pull off here in Windsor.
[via Eyebeam & PSFK]
Not that it’s something we haven’t talked about before, but GOOD just wrote about yet another iteration of this kind of alternative community pedagogy, this time calling it “pop-up education.”
Basically these ideas work like this: teach something you know to other people in an alternative space. Perhaps a main distinction in the pop-up education idea compared to what we’ve talked about before is that this kind of pedagogical experience should occur during regular wait-times, the brief post gives the example of teaching safety skills while waiting in the DMV.
So, how many times will we write about this before we initiate something? Well, maybe instead of making a list of skills we have and could share, maybe creating a needs-based list would work.
For example, I would love to learn how to cast metal, do basic programming for the iPhone, and get a better general sense of the narrative of the history of the city. What might you want to learn? Want to trade knowledge?
In an amazingly good interview, Daniel Fuller over at Art21‘s blog discusses projects, ideas, and philosophies of social / dialogical / relational art practice with Sam Gould of Red76.
Red76 has been organizing workshops, lectures and public dialogues in “non-hierarchical” settings since 2000, most recently working on the Pop-Up Book Academy, a school which materializes behind the mask of a temporary used book store. The school utilizes the printed form as a means of investigating social politics and its histories past and present. Much of their work has been involved in working with art spaces focused on alterative pedagogy.
Gould charts a brief history of this type of art practice, attributing the social practice and relational aesthetics trajectories that emerged in late 90s and into the 2000s to difficult economic times and political conditions (that is, the transition into Bush’s presidency). He also tackles the big question, “How is this art?” by attributing the classification of this type of practice as art in the art world (and that art world being defined by museums and galleries) to a kind of laziness by the artists working within it, which is to say that while some of the work presented in this context of social practice isn’t necessarily best suited for presentation in a gallery, it becomes a type of necessity to allow it to do just that.
In reflecting on the nature of this practice, often enacted through discussions, lectures, workshops, artist talks, seminars, Gould notes that critiques and arguments of their practice often fall into two categories: efficacy (activists), or sincerity (artists). These in particular seem to be somewhat familiar questions.
And, I had to include my favourite line of the whole interview: “You don’t need an object to make it [art]. Art is the space which we define for questioning. Objects, or the lack thereof, are placeholders for ideas and propositions.”
Again, it’s a great interview and I’ve only barely skimmed the surface in my quick recap here. It’s definitely worth reading if you’re even remotely interested in the intersection of art and activism.
The Public School is an initiative by Los Angeles’ Telic Arts Exchange, and, so far as I can tell, the basic premise is this: people interested in either teaching or taking a short-term class on a given subject propose that class; other people interested in such a class express their interest on the School’s website, and proposals eliciting the greatest public interest are selected to be taught. Nominal fees are collected, an instructor and curriculum are settled upon, and then the class is held at a space provided by the School. Topics already selected range from gold leafing and piñata-making to discussion of Benjamin’s Arcades Project and conceptual choreography. And S&M. And composting.
So far, the School has also launched programs in Chicago and Philadelphia. Now, it’s difficult to imagine the exact same system working in precisely the same way in a city the size of Windsor (put simply, there likely aren’t enough interested parties for the same degree of “crowd-sourcing” to be practicable), but as an organizational model for knowledge- or skill-sharing, I think there’s a lot that could be taken from the School’s format.
I’ve written here before about the potential that comes of having a physical space out of which to work, and something like this is perhaps one of the more compelling possibilities. The “school” here is, in effect, an empty classroom: the curriculum and schedule emerges out of a collective desire to see a given thing happen. And then it happens.
People everywhere have knowledge and experience that, in large part, goes under-utilized. It’s not difficult to imagine finding a couple-dozen people willing to chip in ten bucks for a silk-screening workshop, but, at the same time, there’s potentially something to be gained by bringing together four or five dedicated turbo-nerds willing to spend a night each week talking about—I don’t know—European versus North American histories of site-specificity in artistic practice and how these come to bear in current understandings and implementations of “relational” creative activity (only one example, of course). For the particular terbo-nerd leading the seminar, that outlet and the even-slight reciprocity of interest could mean the difference between sticking around and giving up and moving to Kitchener (“the Ghent of Southern Ontario,” I hear they call it). Or something. I don’t mean people like me specifically, of course; I’m just saying.
I could also teach gold leafing. Or piñata-making, come to that. Just saying.