Education from Below is a two-year collaborative programme organised between the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, MACBA, Barcelona and WHW, Zagreb.
Education from Below explores art as a place for dialogue, collective learning and imagination. Education doesn't belong only in institutions, but it can be horizontal and come from below, from communities.
The project recognises that art practices can dislocate the usual hierarchies of what should or should not be learned and traditional divisions between theory and practice, and that knowledge does not have to be based on accumulation, but rather on sharing and mutual learning.
The partners will explore new models of art practice based on collective learning and will generate a network of institutions and professionals for sharing methodologies.
Education from Below links three independent programmes for artists, Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, PEI at MACBA, and WHW Akademija that each provide important opportunities for artistic development outside of formal education systems. The project will be realised over the course of autumn 2019 – autumn 2021 through seminars, study groups, artist residencies, exhibitions, series of lectures, an international conference, a collective reader and a common web platform, involving many artists, thinkers and educators.
Bert Scholten examines the symbolic layers and multitude of historical references that are hidden in local customs and rituals.He provides insight into forgotten customs and obscure stories that he brings together in the transitions of traditions in the form of sounds, songs, talks and performances.
Can songs be used to revive the customs? How would the celebrations change for use in today's world, like the offerbread changed over the years? Could the way of sharing the project start a circulation? Can making the translation of the Dutch songlyrics collaboratively be a way of sharing? Where the personal approach adds new stories and details to this interpersonal subject. By discussion or polemic.
Investigating the Dutch folklore of the Koekplank - a wooden mould used to bake figurative breads - Scholten wants to find a way where there can be a polyphony of voices within the ritual of giving and receiving, but where this is also really circulating and reciprocating.The people who made the woodcuts were travelling craftsmen, recutting the same image in different places. There’s a troubadour kind of quality to this. A repetition of images, and a gradual disappearance of their meaning. Just as folk tales they change over time and take on new forms and meanings. But what comes back when something loses its meaning?
Bert Scholten’s working method is characterised by interaction with people, both in the creative process and in the final work. For example, he examines songs, in the broadest sense, as a medium for spreading stories, as was done in the past. Scholten can therefore best be described as a contemporary troubadour – one who draws inspiration from local news reports and mysterious folk tales, which he then pours into musical performances. According to the artist, the idea that the Netherlands is tradition-poor is nonsense. The customs and rituals may not be grand and compelling, but precisely because of their obscurity they are worth dusting off and investigating.
Scholten began his project at the Rijksakademie by investigating the Dutch folklore of the Koekplank. Scholten wanted to find a way where there could be a polyphony of voices within the ritual of giving and receiving, but where this is also really circulating and reciprocating. The people who made the wood cuts were travelling craftsmen, recutting the same image in different places. Scholten began by cooking breads in the Rijksakademie Cantina, and beginning dialogues with artist residents, recorded in the Rijksakademie sound studio.
The project broadened to involve Framer Framed, a partner in the Rijksakademie’s Workshop Social Practice. Framer Framed invited Scholten to undertake a residency at Werkplaats Molenwijk, where artists temporarily take up residence in the neighbourhood and create new work in dialogue with the community.
Here he developed a workshop – Verborgen Verhalen (Hidden Stories) – where children were free to walk in. Scholten would tell them something about the tradition of the 'koekplank' in his own way and then leave it to the children’s imagination. He invited them to express their interpretations in drawings. Afterwards, he used the drawings for new work: new 'koekplanken' that were then distributed throughout the district. In this way, it turned into a reciprocal joint process.
Scholten opened up the project further to the neighbourhood and local community to further determine the content of his residence, exploring the neighbourhood and entering into dialogue with the residents.
Bert Scholten joined the Ac/kademie talk, Art as Social Practice, to present and reflect on the project.
Rijksakademie alum Bert Scholten (RA 18/19) is often called a contemporary troubadour. In his work he resorts to a tradition in which songs were a means of spreading stories. Scholtens songs, with titles as ‘De Paardenmishandelaar’ (The Horse Abuser), ‘De Gefrustreerde Metropolitaan’ (The Frustrated Metropolitan) or ‘Mina Koes’, find their origin in old folk stories or local news items, often from the Northern Netherlands. Scholten investigates these stories and traces the different versions that often exist. In his performances he carries out the lyrics with instrumental accompaniment.
This residency is a collaboration with Framer Framed, platform for contemporary art, visual culture, and critical theory & practice.