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The Heresy of Didactic Art - ARTMargins

The Heresy of Didactic Art - ARTMargins

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In the special issue, we are interested in the multiple, and often strategic, connections between art and alternative, radical pedagogies. Ofcourse, the confluence of art and radical pedagogy is nothing particularly new. The past twenty years, especially, have witnessed a resurgance of all manner of debates and initiatives that attend to the role that contemporary art plays or could play in the development of critical education and pegagoy. Below the radar of academic art history, varying cross sections between artists' movements and pegagogy have combined, Black, feminist, LGBTQ+ or disability activism, as well as workers' or anarchists' struggles and organizing to shape art practices that do not shy away from teaching or from a relational epistemology of truth. Especially pertinent in this regard has been the enlistment of art in various forms of militant education as a means to oppose the hegemonic (visual) pedagogy of colonialism. 

Our goal with this special issue is not to endorse, promote, or celebrate didactic art over its alleged (autonomous) other. Indeed, we are mindful of the historic, and thus frequently contradictory and dissonant, underpinnings of any didacticism, and we acknowledge the many ways in which discourses of learning and education have been and are being instrumentalized, not least by a variety of neoliberal and neonationalist discourses and politics. Yet, as didacticism is being called upon to fight a suspicious metaphysics of art and to turn art into an efficient vehicle for political messages and ideological battle—how does didactic art play out formally and aesthetically amid such struggles? At times, education and didactics are pitted against each other, with the former referring to a notion of personal becoming, and the latter to pernicious forms of indoctrination. A genealogy of these terms and their semantics may be helpful in arriving at a more differentiated picture of the art/didactics conundrum. It may also help answer the question of the extent to which didactics, this “bad object,” has been transvalued in late-20th-century art.

Published by MIT Press
Softcover, 228 pages
23 x 15 cm

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