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/ecm diskurs 14: Strategies for Contact Zones. On Radical Gallery Education


Freitag, 17. Januar 2014, 19 Uhr
Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien, Dachgeschoß SE B
Oskar Kokoschka-Platz 2, 1010 Wien

A conversation with Felicity Allen and Nora Sternfeld

In our talk we would like to actualise the term "contact zone", which was coined by the post-colonialist theoreticians Mary Louise Pratt and James Clifford in the 1990s and which has helped to conceptualize museums and education processes in recent years as spaces of negotiation. Pratt and Clifford describe contact zones as social spaces, in which diverse social and cultural positions come into contact and have to coexist – more or less conflictually – and be negotiated. The term describes shared/divided social spaces of contact, challenging existing concepts of community at the same time: it thwarts notions of "authenticity" as well as those of "powerlessness". This means that different histories, references and power relations can come into view, but without having to assume or construct cultural differentiation at the same time.
In response to these ideas, we will discuss the role of the museum when curating participatory programmes: how does the legal term "duty of care" translate into everyday processes and relationships? Is there a distinction between the concerns of exhibitionary curators and education curators in terms of social relationships? When or how should one privilege the aesthetic and intellectual demands of a participatory work in order to satisfy the demands of the work, audience and artist? Having previously been an employee at Tate, in 2013 Felicity switched for the first time from curator to participant, and took part in Suzanne Lacy's large-scale performance, Silver Action. She will draw on her experience at Tate to inform the discussion.

Felicity Allen is an artist, writer and educator. A Visiting Research Fellow at London South Bank University 2011 to 2012, she was a guest scholar at the Getty Research Institute, where she focused on the question: What does globalisation mean for gallery education? Her current work includes a dialogic portraits series in prose and watercolour, as well as contribu- tions to projects in the Eastern Mediterranean. Two books written by Felicity came out in 2011: Education (MIT/Whitechapel Documents of Contem- porary Art) and Your Sketchbook Your Self (Tate). She has been involved in gallery education for the last two decades, most recently leading the education department at Tate Britain (2003-10). "Invasive Assessments, Surprise, and Performing the Self in the Sketchbook" was published in the Belgian/ Dutch journal De Witte Raaf (The White Raven) 120, November to December 2012, and "Ghost Writing Telegraph Cottage", with Simon Smith, will come out in 2013 in Nothing N ormal: Essays on Literary Intimacies, ed. Jennifer Cooke, Bloomsbury Academic.

Nora Sternfeld is an art educator and curator, co-director of ecm — educating/curating/managing — Master Program in exhibition theory and practice at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and professor for curating and mediating art at the Aalto University in Helsinki. Moreover she is part of trafo. K, Office for Art Education and Critical Knowledge Production based in Vienna. She publishes on contemporary art, exhibition theory, education, politics of history and anti-racism and has been teaching at the Humboldt University in Berlin, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, the Zurich University of the Arts, the Art Academy Kassel, the Vienna Art School and the University of Education in Vienna. She is author of "Das pädagogische Unverhältnis", Wien 2009 and "Kontaktzonen der Geschichtsvermittlung", Wien 2013 and co-edited several books, recently: "It’s all Mediating: Outlining and Incorporating the Roles of Curating and Education in the Exhibition Context", Cambridge Scholar Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne 2013 (with The Finnish Association for Museum Education Pedaali, Kaija Kaitavuori, and Laura Kokkonen) and "educational turn. Handlungsräume der Kunst- und Kulturvermittlung", Series: ausstellungstheorie & praxis, vol. 5, Turia und Kant, Vienna 2012 (with schnittpunkt, Beatrice Jaschke).