Art Powers Education
Positions in the current debate on education

The following institutions agreed to cooperate in organizing a series of lectures on the current debate on education by initiative of Tanzquartier Vienna in 2006:

• University Vienna, Faculty of Philosophy and Educational Science
• University Vienna, Institute of Theatre, Film- and Media Studies
• FWF-research project: „. Materiality And Temporality of Performative Speech-Acts.“
• Tanzquartier Vienna

The investigation into the topic will take place on 2 separate levels

Level 1
A research laboratory will be set up temporarily in the studios of Tanzquartier Vienna, in which 5 artist groups will elaborate “untimely” artistic positions on the current debate on education.

It is not least against the backdrop of the experiences made by Tanzquartier Vienna in the fields of experimentally oriented further education, artistic research and practice-related theory that we seek to identify a utopian potential in the disciplines of dance and performance, linking it with the current artistic practice and theory, and to locate and disclose places where there is leeway for thought. In an exchange between art and science, methods and strategies of artistic knowledge production and transfer will be developed and tested.


02nd of June 18.30 h
East Dance Academy
with Emil Hrvatin (SLO), Bojana Kunst (SLO), Aldo Milohnic (SLO), Goran Sergej Pristaš (CRO)

07th of June 18.30 h
In so Many Words
with Tim Etchells / Forced Entertainment (GB), Adrian Heathfield (GB)

09th of June 18.30 h
Pedagoy of Tolerance
with Lia Rodrigues (BRA), Helena Katz (BRA), Silvia Soter (BRA)

14th of June 18.30 h
Acts Educate
with Milli Bitterli (A), Anette Baldauf (A), Andrea B. Braidt (A)

16th of June 18.30 h
Propelled by Your Own Motivation to Learn and to Discover
with Jan Ritsema (NL/B), Bojana Cvejic (YU/B), Elke Van Campenhout (B), Christine Gaigg (A), Peter Stamer (D/A)

Short comments of the heads of the 5 artistic pilot groups
Milli Bitterli (A), Tim Etchells (GB), Emil Hrvatin (SLO),
Jan Ritsema (NL/B), Lia Rodriguez (BR) ]

„Education opens connections and opportunities for action.
Education opens the opportunity to experiment with knowledge or ideas.
Education is often productive in unexpected areas for which one has not had any education at all.
Education creates attitude.
Sometimes it is better to relax one’s attitude and open oneself to questions.”

Milli Bitterli (A)
Choreographer, 2000 Founding of Company "arificial horizon".

„Down with poisonous slickness, defensive seamlessness and rhetorical authority. We'd rather have the provisional, the vulnerable, the playful, the event that unfolds and unravels. We want intimacy, transformation, negotiation, subversion, provocation, teasing, exchange, exhaustion, confrontation, slipping, sliding, ephemerality and eye contact. Against: the statement, the category, the highly abstract, the fixed, the objective. For: the dialogue, the question, the gap between discourses, the multiple, the ambiguous, the live. The result of our work will be a new performance lecture that questions the relation between „the artist” and „the academic” and which tests the educative dynamics of performance practice and the live relation.”

Tim Etchells (GB) and Adrian Heathfield (GB)
Tim Etchells is a writer and an artist best known for his work as leader of the performance group "Forced Entertainment".
Adrian Heathfield works on performance theory.

„The key moment of the ideology of neoliberal societies is a secession of creativity and critique. Economy is based on over(ab)usement of both terms and on establishing constant absorption zone between the two by aesthetisation and overappropriation of that zone. The only act of learning is the one in which creativity and critique meet. This meeting is never productive. The recent history of meeting between artists and theorists, artists and scientists is a history of mutual fascination and failure. But just as a failure, which constantly calls for its recreation and restoration, which is rehearsed again and again, the meeting point between critique and creativity is the place where the art and any other activity becomes ethical.”

Emil Hrvatin (SLO)
Director, works on performancetheory,
Editor in chief of performing arts journal MASKA.

„After our 4th year instructors are dropped into our lives. For so-called learning efficiency reasons. But what they do is to put a halt to the use of this general intelligence, our basic operating system with which we discover the world. There is not much to teach. There is a lot to learn. But one can do most of the learning on one’s own, by observing and comparing this to what one knows and verifying the differences and similarities.
In the “educational” experiment that we want to develop, we drop the distinction between professionals and to become professionals. The generous confrontations between each other, specialists and non-specialists will activate problematisation, the premises for further learning.”

Jan Ritsema (NL/B)
Theatre and performance artist,
2005 Foundation of performing arts forum

“Our situation in Brazil is so different than in Europe! Formation and education are both extremely precarious in our country. To do art and education in Brazil is an ongoing process of affirmation, investment and resistance. So we have to be very creative to survive and also create new forms of knowledge transmission.
Our questions are: How to deal with art education in a risk situation? What are the challenges and the possibilities? How a social project combines with an artistic project? How to propose other possible forms of combing art and education with other aspects of life? How do worlds communicate that do not communicate?”

Lia Rodrigues (BRA)
Choreographer, 1990 Foundation of her Company,
artistic director of Panorama RioArte de Dança in Brazil.

Level 2:
In parallel, a series of lectures (“ring lecture”) will accompany the artistic work of the 5 pilot groups, in which distinguished scientists will question the aporetic status of education as being a “non-calculable value” of our cultural lives. A question, that does not only challenge the problem of the benefits and harm education does to the lives of people (Nietzsche), but, even more fundamentally, will have to consider the link that has been established between education and value in general during the “economic turn” of the last centuries.
If it should prove true that education has to deal with a force of life that “analytically” resists the mechanisms of being educated simply, this non-calculable resistance against education has to be regarded as being a “good” part of the educational game itself. A remarkable phenomenon, that provides any educational act with the feature of being an unpredictable force that can neither be reduced to a cost-benefit-calculation nor to calculation at all.
So if, in the course of these lectures, it should turn out that education is no circumstance that man could simply control strategically, then a debate on “educational acts” would prove as being one of those unfashionable and untimely discourses, which carry a subversive potential in themselves while showing resistance against dominant discourses concerned with topics like efficiency, productivity and the evaluation of the efficiency and productivity of our educational systems. Since real education seems to require detours, decelerations, leisure and even idleness to reach its optimum, the utopian value of hypermodern acts of education precisely consist in scratching and breaking the logic of this pragmatic way of educating people in asking them to improve the efficiency of their productivity over and over again.


Abstracts in English here

March 14th:
17.30-19.00 Introduction for students into the subject and the organization of the
ring-lecture. (Univ.Doz. Arno Böhler, University Vienna, Philosophy)
Place: University Vienna, Main Building, HS 34.

The following distinguished scientists agreed to present a lecture on education acts during the course of this lecture-series: (The lectures take place on Tuesdays, from 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm in the Studio/Tanzquartier Vienna at the following dates):

May 16th:
17.30-19.00 Prof. Christoph Menke, Universität Potsdam (Abstract german)
19.00-20.30 Prof. Sybille Krämer, FU-Berlin (Abstract german)

May 30th:
17.30-19.00 Prof. Christoph Wulf, FU-Berlin (Abstract german)
19.00-20.30 Prof. Johannes Bilstein, Essen (Abstract german)

June 13th:
17.30-18.30 Prof. Boyan Manchev, Sofia/Paris (Abstract english)
18.30-19.30 Doz. Arno Böhler, Wien (Abstract german and english)
19.30-20.30 Prof. Laurence A. Rickels, California (Abstract english)

June 20th:
17.30-19.00 Prof. Wolfgang Greisenegger, Wien (Abstract german)
19.00-20.30 Prof. Monika Meister, Wien (Abstract german)

June 27th:
17.30-18.00 Doz. Arno Böhler/Doz. Krassimira Kruschkova: Roundup
18.00-20.30 written test for students

Description of questions and topics

Topic-complex 1: Value
• In what respect does education resist the notion of value in the sense of being no quantifiable calculus?
• What does call for a resistance and avoidance of quantitative evaluation in the act of education/formation itself?
• Does the subversive potential of the actual education debate lay in its untimelyness in relation to predominant economic discourses on the increase of efficiency and gain of time? – In opposition to these kind of discourses, education seems to require detours, decelerations, leisure and even idleness to reach its optimum.

Topic-complex 2: Resistance
• Should resistance in and against acts of education be a constitutive moment of the performative aspect at work in educational acts? (The performative act of education shapes the fact of education and thereby forms the essence of the fact)
• Are those resistances unsurpassable, since education acts are themselves resistances, – insofar as their rhetorical function intervenes as a crucial moment of education in education and therefore eliminates in many ways the internal equilibrium of the model?
• Should education come to terms with itself only through the mode (how) of confrontation with resistances? -: Through the mode of recognising resistances, through the mode of dealing with resistances, by witnessing the capacity to mature through resistances, but also in showing the ability to abandon ones own resistances on behalf of external ones.

Topic-complex 3: Singularity
• If the assumption that an act of education refers to something that resists education proves to be correct (education acts), then the question occurs, whether and how education can be enacted at all; whether it is possible to educate people beyond instructions at all?
• Shouldn’t education question the status of instructions in general while dealing with every regulation as if it would merely be a peculiar test arrangement? Is education beyond the perspective of dominance and sanction even possible?
• If education is the occurrence of ensembles, how can the collective experience, by which education is shaped, be thought in its singularity?

Topic-complex 4: Act
• If education has nothing to do with the figuration of dead things and lifeless materials that can be easily formed by virtue of applying appropriate scientific skills and methods on them, then one has to put in consideration, methodically, the difference between the formation of lifeless things and the education of living beings. Reflecting this distinction probably will have made a promising difference for our “educational acts” in making them servants of life and less servants of the death drive that repeats our past tense over and over again.
• If it should prove true that the methods of a techno-scientific view of artefacts owe themselves prototypically to the handling of lifeless matters, then it would be obviously fatal to transfer such methods to education models. Since, whenever education became the subject of techno-scientific matters of calculation, people are coped with as if they would be a lifeless material that has to be shaped and ordered in accordance to a leading scientific idea. – As if education would have to fulfil the task of an efficient formation of passive, resistless and lifeless masses of people which have to be shaped efficiently by a driving scientific idea.
• How can education be understood, that takes its yardsticks from the “performance of life” itself? How can we enact a performative way of “education acts” that increases the sensibility of the interactive, relational character of our being-with in our being-there (Heidegger/Nancy)? – To wit the reciprocity and dialectical force inherent in our lives that calls for a new justice to come.

To deconstruct this fiction and danger of techno-scientific models that usually treat people as if the act of education would primarily be a circumstance that efficiently has to form singularities in accordance to an assumed scientific idea, is one of the main interests of this lecture series. But it beyond this deconstructive gesture it will also try to open and construct alternative fields of a different education debate, that does not take its ideal from a kind of thinking that primarily tries to reckon with things, but from a systematic analysis and phenomenology of the creativity at work in human mankind. Perhaps to unfold constructive vacancies implied in every teaching. Perhaps to coin the education act as a contamination of thoughts instead of being merely a form of communicating contents between individuals, so that it becomes, finally, a halt and attitude of intellectual resistance and therefore a new habit of a collective experience of the singularity of thinking as such.

Literature in English and French for lectures:

  • Arno Böhler: Philosophie im Bild, DVD-Book Series, Passagen Verlag, 2005
  • Boyan Manchev: L’Inimaginable. Essais de philosophie de l’image, Sofia, NBU Presse, 2003
  • Boyan Manchev: Le système narratif dans les romans de Dostoïevski (de Crime et châtiment aux Frères Karamazov), Université de Sofia, 1998
  • Boyan Manchev: Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1775-1945): Texts and Commentaries (co-auteur et éditeur), Vol. I-III, Budapest, CEU Press, 2005-2006 (in Druck)
  • Boyan Manchev: Métamorphoses de la présence. Georges Bataille et la surcritique de la représentation, Editions Kimé (in Druck)
  • Laurence A. Rickels: Only Psychoanalysis Won The War, University of Minnesota, 2002
  • Laurence A. Rickels: Nazi Psychoanalysis, University of Minnesota, 2002
  • Laurence A. Rickels: The Vampire Lectures, University of Minnesota, 1999
  • Laurence A. Rickels: The Case of California, John Hopkins, 1991
  • Christoph Wulf / G. Gebauer: Mimesis. Culture, Art, Society. Berkeley 1995
  • Christoph Wulf: Education for the 21st Century. Münster/New York 2002
  • Christoph Wulf: Anthropology of Education. LIT 2002