At least since the time of the educational turn, which in the field of culture appeared in the 1990s, the representative role of art and artists has been giving way to the workshop activities, based on debating and relationship building, in which the authorship is diffused. Formats that, until now, have been considered accompanying events to the exhibition, such as debates, meetings, and guided tours, are becoming its essence, occupying a central place in the programmes of institutions. In the tenth issue of the RTV Magazine, we look closely at the various methods of cultural participation that appear in the work of educators, artists and activists, those working on their own and those employed by institutions. We ask them about their dreams and possibilities, about the adequacy of the tools they use, about their efficiency in preventing social exclusions, and about their community building role.
The time of the pandemic shows that education cannot be transferred to the online world without damage to the relations built offline: in the local community centre, in a club, a hub, a gallery… Flattening the complex human relations to the computer screen makes many of them invisible. By writing, speaking, and, most of all, acting, we strive to maintain the education and the relations established in the process, so that when the restrictions keeping us apart are relaxed, they will not degrade, but become stronger.
Agata Oleynova, an activist with twelve years of experience, talks about variety of social commitment, looking at activism in its many forms – there is a place for those fighting with the police, risking being pepper-sprayed, and for a person who, during the quarantine, bought a desired Coca-Cola for their grandma.
Referring to the combination of educational activities with the cultural animation, we introduce the leaders of seven seniors’ clubs in Poznań: Magdalena Bobrowska, Barbara Jenczmionka, Wiesława Pukacka, Ewa Rakowska-Śmiglewska, Zdzisława Tolińska, Aleksandra Woźniak and Ewa Zawieja, as well as Magdalena Kowalska, a seniors’ animator. Seniors’ clubs often remain unnoticed, while on the maps of the local communities they are culturally significant places. Besides, for many senior citizens, they create the only opportunity to maintain their social lives with peers.
We also look at the educational potential demonstrated by the artistic practice. Pamela Bożek, an artist working with people with the refugee experience who live in the Polish refugee centres invites us to “read with comprehension” – which, in this case, means a reading allowing us to understand ourselves and the world. Ania Raczyński, using the medium of a film, tells us about the community of amateur filmmakers in northern England and how, while working on a film (about this community) she became a part of it. Then, Kinga Mistrzak examines the amateur creative work in a local community centre in Poznań, writing about the senior vocal band and an aeromodelling workshop. The filmmakers community, as well as the groups from the community centre, are created by elderly people, who have been developing their creative interests for their whole lives. Kinga Mistrzak raises questions about the sense of artistic education in its academic form, which is drifting further and further away from the ordinary desire to create shown by the protagonists in her films.
Paweł Błęcki, in an interview with Cecylia Malik and Monika Drożyńska – artists who, together with their children, took part in an exhibition “Two arts are better than one”, raises the issue of artistic homeschooling starting in an early childhood, and the factors behind the withdrawal from creative activities in adult life.
Until now, cultural institutions have been able to carry out educational activities in a way completely different from schools, mostly due to their wider range of tools and possibilities. Education in contact with art and through art often enabled a more relaxed atmosphere, which contributed to the forming of less formal relations and honest exchange of views. Educators, unlike school teachers, function outside the system of permanent grading. A lot has changed in the times of “online culture”. Educational activities online and remote education in reality come down to looking at a screen, which for many participants, especially for the youngest among them, is boring or simply hard to bear.
Agnieszka Wojciechowska-Sej – an educator working in the Museum of Art in Łódź and a mother of three daughters, shares her doubts concerning online education in an interview with Jakub Walczyk. The interview is not only about how the cultural institution copes with transferring educational activities online, but also about what mothers, children, and teachers have to deal with in remote education.
An important subject that comes up when we discuss what education should look like today is the accessibility for people with disabilities. Each and every one of lacks something, has to deal with some kind of incompleteness or imperfection – as accurately pointed out by Bartek Lis, an educator, animator, and the co-author of sensual workshops. Bartek shows how you can get to know works of art without looking at them, co-creating situations that allow you to have a contact with art through the other senses. In this way, all the people taking part in the meeting, regardless of the degree of their visual impairment, have a chance to develop their own way of experiencing art.
An important aspect of education is paying attention to the class-related and privileged status of art in the society. With their work and commitment, educators break its exclusivity by reducing culture to everyday and simple activities, such as a conversation or a walk. Relationship building also depends on whether we can develop the skill of finding a safe space within ourselves, a place from which we can safely and curiously reach towards the unknown direction. As pointed out by Maria Parczewska, creative work is a function of trusting oneself.
There is no denying that after a successful workshop, an interesting and fruitful debate, or other similar event, the atmosphere changes. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s easy to experience. You want to talk for even longer (not necessarily about the issues discussed before) and be together.
One of the educators once finished her workshop in such a way; she asked all the participants to stand in a circle and then to put a hand on the arm of a person standing next to them. This caused a bit of reluctance, since, even though the workshop was very successful, everyone was already quite tired and unwilling to do another activity. However, the educator then told us to pat each other on the back and appreciate our work by saying two short words: “well done!”. It released a lot of joy and gratitude. It can be said that this ending was like icing on the cake that the workshop participants were baking throughout the whole meeting.
We invite you to read the tenth issue of the RTV Magazine dedicated to education, at the same time wishing you and ourselves a lot of successful events, icing included. And many thanks to the educators preparing the recipes for these meetings!