Into the future…
The star of this year´s 57. Venice Biennial 2017, Anne Imhof, has graduated from higher art education in 2012. In only five years her career moved from being an art student to represent her country, Germany, at the biennial. On top of that the international jury awarded her with the highest distinction, the Golden Lion. This is a steep development in a very short time.
Should we, at the BA Fine Arts, take a close look at her work and adjust our teaching in the direction of such performative installations? Maybe this would lead graduates to similar success? That would be a wrong conclusion. If our teaching only reflects on what is currently en vogue and fashionable, we would continuously dangle after what is regarded successful. Instead we need to aim for what will get attention in five to ten years, in the future. We should not just follow the art forms and attitudes which are selected to be presented now. We need to look ahead. We need to support students to shape an unknown future, their future.
In the BA Fine Arts programme of the KABK we emphasise the critical awareness of artists as individuals and as contributors to the field and our societies. Encapsulation, art as therapy, closing off from external influences, art as bohemian attitude, art as a string of short-lived ideas, art as self-fulfilment, art as a set of purely manual techniques: these are unfortunate tendencies which can be observed among students at many art schools today. In the public perception the role of art is seen as a profitable endeavour born from crazy ideas. News about high prices and huge profit margins have distorted the image of the art market and with this the view on the life of the majority of artists. When the image of art and artists has such a self-indulging tone, it becomes difficult to argue for public necessity and responsibility.
We will need to design art education in order to counteract. How can we emphasise “independence” as a skill, which draws individual conclusions from knowledge and experience? How can we embed “experience” into our curriculum as an open mind for the societies and cultures around us? How can we explain, that “independence” is a requirement to thoroughly observe the world, to reflect upon it and to propose change? How can we create enthusiasm for the arts as an “intellectual” endeavour, born out of the closest possible link between making and thinking? How can we clarify how art contributes to all our lives: as knowledge, as critical injection, as remembrance and interrogator of values in past and future and at the same time as pleasure and joy? How can we enable students to imagine and build the future: their own and that of our world? How can we build the confidence that artists have a lot to say and that their contribution should be rewarded rather than subsidised?
All this has guided our teaching in the past years and will guide us in the future. Now a group of young artists leaves KABK with a Bachelor of Art. We have tried our best to get them ready for their next move. Some might start their life as artists right away, others might move on to obtain a master, maybe later even a PhD. And maybe we will meet some of them at an international biennial as influential artists in five to ten years. But we hope that all of them take their role as artists seriously and make the best out of it: for themselves, for the arts and for the future of our world.
Klaus Jung, Head of the Bachelor Fine Arts