• Spanish Contemporary Art Network

Miren Doiz in 'Art Education in the Age of Metrics'-Canterbury


Art Education in the Age of Metrics

Herbert Read Gallery, University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury

10 March – 7 April, 2017 (Private viewing: 9 March, 5-7pm)

Participating artists: Miren Doiz, Simon Merrifield, Redmond Entwistle, Steven Cottingham, and contributions by UCA students.

Curated by Emma Brasó

Four artists ask the question: 'Are metrics (the standards by which efficiency, performance, and progress are measured) useful or relevant within the context of art education? '

Grades, student-teacher ratios, employability rates, league tables, student satisfaction surveys, retention capacities, research outputs, fees and debt. We are all aware that a “data culture” dominates formal education, and that numbers define our relation to teaching institutions. Although this is a reality that permeates the entire educational system, nowhere can the tensions provoked by this model be more clearly felt than in art education. In the book Teaching Art in the Neoliberal Realm, Pascal Gielen and Paul De Bruyne argue that neoliberalism practices a “fundamentalism of measurability,” and that, as a result, what “cannot be measured will be more difficult to legitimize or honour.”[1] Art education—which values uncertainty more than certainty, failure as well as success, unproductivity rather than simply efficiency—is, therefore, finding itself under scrutiny.

Despite this problematic situation, it might also be possible to consider how the age of metrics can contribute to art education. According to a well-established narrative around the “art school,” these greatly-missed environments were ideal spaces for learning and making art: students were left alone to do (or not do) their thing; conversation, disagreement, and even confrontation were encouraged; and the relation with teachers was not mediated by a service economy. From a different perspective, however, these relatively “macho” institutions were, to a great extent, unaware, unable, or unwilling to respond to the difficulties that many of their community members experienced. The age of metrics is, despite its numerous evils, also the time of student-centred learning (including its egalitarian agenda), of the student support services (raising awareness about learning difficulties like dyslexia), and of accountability.

Art Education in the Age of Metrics tries to explore how we teach and learn art in the present day through the proposals of a series of agents with multiple identities: artists, architects, researchers, peer-groups, students, and teachers. This is not an exhibition about “alternative” educational models or that tries to substitute current infrastructures with new ones, but an invitation to consider the pros and cons of the current paradigm of art education.

Art Education in the Age of Metrics comes after 2014’s Despite Efficiency: Labour and the following year’s Agency without Intention, as part of an ongoing investigation into different forms of social organization in neoliberal times at the Herbert Read Gallery.

[1] Pascal Gielen and Paul De Bruyne (eds.), Teaching Art in the Neoliberal Realm. Realism versus Cynicism, (Valiz, Amsterdam, 2012), 5.


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