Shared Space and Knowledge
Mindaugas GapševičiusStandardization and rules are not the only issues art education must deal with in present times. Alongside increasing tuition fees, the challenges facing art education in a variety of art forms, also include the lack of professional and skilled tutors.
The Bologna Process, a reform of higher education was created in 1999 in order to standardize education processes in European schools and to propose comparable academic degrees. Although most higher education institutions have signed Bologna Process agreements, the reform was and still is hardly implemented within German schools. Nevertheless, the Bologna Process is not only about standardization as it still leaves institutions the right to decide on fundamental principles of autonomy, for instance, the quantity of theoretical classes to be taken by practice based students. The Bologna Process and European directives could also become very interesting by offering interdisciplinary approaches and mobility programs giving students a possibility to attend classes in other universities and still complete studies in their home universities.
Most established institutions like family, registered organisations or the state bear a hierarchical structure. So do higher education institutions, who are usually accountable to the state’s Ministry of Education. As there is a lack of primary autonomy, and because of very complex systems the higher education institutions could become inert or they could start practising inappropriate communication. So for example a boss (director, rector, president) would feel like being the main figure in the institution and would not necessarily agree on initiatives brought by a lower figure within the hierarchy, who in an educational structure would be a vice rector or a dean of a faculty. The latter is then holding a higher position towards heads of departments, who in turn would not necessarily agree on initiatives suggested by lecturers or students, occurring under the conditions drawn by figures located within the higher levels of the pyramid.
The alternative could be a dynamic system, although having less influence than established institutions, an NGO or association providing good content without necessarily having a well known position within public education. The radical position for changing the way we educate ourselves is offered by Free University in Lithuania, LUNI, a non-formal communal initiative, which offers education outside established “bureaucratic and hierarchical structure, nurturing the power of authority”. Instead they offer a flat hierarchy where “anyone who wants to share his/her knowledge and experience with others can become a lecturer”. In such a kind of university, the system is created not as an institution, but as a social network where people share their knowledge instead of selling or buying it. Although the network in this case is fully decentralized and optimistic, it lacks the integration of already established structures.In 1973 Joseph Beuys founded his Free International University association in order to create an alternative model for education, offering knowledge through art and the process of doing art, but not the art product, which is the usual case in higher art education. Apparently Beuys was not trying to radically change the system of education, but instead to supplement it with new possibilities and features, introducing a process of learning, where imagination, and thinking begin. A similar position is proposed by Wolfgang Knapp, who presented an interdisciplinary model for education during the Migrating Art Academies CouchSurfing seminar. The model is based on a collaborative work among art and science students, who would bring their expertise into the process of the work . The question of being taught as an individualist (genius) artist or a social figure is however kept open: “go your own way as it is more important”.
The artist’s (or anarchist’s) position balancing usually on the edge of established norms, could bring some new ideas and approaches towards interpreting and reinterpreting existing rules. Alvydas Lukys starting the CouchSurfing seminar puts his emphasis on breaking the rules in education structures or academia, although he himself (like Joseph Beuys) would offer a new kind of education structure based in this case on an informal association of independent organizations. Žilvinas Lilas, at the same seminar offers a non traditional approach towards learning processes and proposes escaping schools in order to find another kind of concentration. Having proposed topics like “Whale in Baltics” or “Ghostology”, Lilas would invite students to play within newly established rules of the game instead of following traditional concepts like (re)telling someone’s story or documenting political or economical processes.
A golden mean could become a distributed and decentralized network of various organizations including established higher education institutions and NGOs along with other non-educational institutions and associations. In such a network people (professors, cultural workers, students) could have a right to choose between official and non-official programmes associated with aligned organizations. If, for example, a professor from the established educational institution would feel like having some spare place for other people to join his class, she would firstly announce the amount of remaining free places to collaborating partner institutions and students studying there. Also, a student could propose in the network her expertise for other students and professionals lacking particular knowledge. From another side, if an NGO or non-educational institution organizes a workshop, a seminar or a conference, the first invitation could be sent around the organizations participating in the network. Having such a model every initiative would be considered seriously and understood as a learning process while sharing.
Shared could also become a shelter offered by a colleague living in another town. Such networks offering people accommodation in a spare space available at the moment of traveling have already been demonstrated to work successfully.
A proposed network structure for sharing space and knowledge should become open for new organizations to join or leave and would function like a mailing list where one takes part upon his or her decision. A self-building and easily scalable network of various organizations and people could become accessible across different locations offering emerging artists and/or professionals qualified knowledge and feasible mobility.
The proposed learning model doesn’t deny existing Bologna Process strategies and established educational structures, but uses them instead as a basis to open education using non-standard approaches.
 For example media student in the Vilnius Academy of Arts working with sound will not have a reliable critique as there is no professor working with sound.
 The Bologna Declaration, 2000, http://ec.europa.eu/education/policies/educ/bologna/bologna.pdf, 29-11-2011
 For example University of arts in Berlin or Dusseldorf Art Academy implemented BA and MA degrees within the last few years and smaller schools like the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne or the Merz Akademie in Stuttgart are still outside the Bologna Process standards.
 See for example differences between Vilnius Academy of Arts, Academy of Media Arts Cologne and European School of Visual Arts in Poitiers/Angoulême.
 The University of Art in Berlin has for example around 5000 students.
 For example media lab Kawenga in Montpellier or General Public gallery space in Berlin.
 http://luni.lt.garnys.serveriai.lt/luni-free-university.html, 29-11-2011
 Joseph Beuys – Kunst für den Menschen, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DIxoM_5NyE&feature=player_embedded#!, 29-11-2011
 Wolfgang Knapp, Inter Multi Trans: http://www.migaa.eu/laboratory-vi/seminar/wolfgang-knapp/, 29-11-2011
 Alvydas Lukys, http://www.migaa.eu/laboratory-vi/seminar/alvydas-lukys/
 Žilvinas Lilas, Xenocentric Morphogenesis, http://www.migaa.eu/laboratory-vi/seminar/zilvinas-lilas/
 According to couchsurfing.org in the last week of November 2011 29,666 people from their network have met in person to experience fun, adventure, and hospitality. http://couchsurfing.org, 29-11-2011