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The January 2022 issue of A*Desk Magazine addresses the necessary challenge on the part of a large number of cultural institutions and art museums to generate a space for the research, writing, and production of knowledge about their own practices regarding the general public. This issue focuses on pedagogical practices, a type of work that enjoys a lower standing than others, such as curatorial practice, and we ask ourselves, what does it mean to do research inside of a museum? And more specifically, what does it mean to do research and produce knowledge linked to art and education programs for diverse audiences? How to create writing spaces for this knowledge production? What kinds of knowledge are these? What type of research can we generate? How do we position ourselves in relation to the Academy? What role do the archive and bureaucratic writing play in this task? What role do subjectivity, fiction, the body, pleasure, and emotions play in these processes?
From Latin America and Europe, the guests of this issue of A*Desk reflect on these problems and think about the current state of education in art museums and of the scope and limits of this profession.
We are joined by Renata Cervetto, member of the curatorial team of the 11th Berlin Biennale and editor of books whose goal is to promote art and educational practices in Latin America. In an interview, Renata discusses the peculiarities of researching art-education in this context, and the challenges and potentialities of writing and publishing about these practices.
Next, Mónica Amieva, pedagogical curator and researcher at the Institute of Aesthetic Research at the UNAM, delves into the implications of defending pedagogical practices of museums as research practices. Based on Pablo Helguera’s concept of “transpedagogies,” Amieva explores the possibility of reinventing traditional education and research work in art museums.
For her part, María Acaso, professor and researcher (Madrid Complutense University) and Director of Education at the Reina Sofía Museum, together with Sara Torres, artist, professor and researcher (MCU) of radical pedagogies, propose thinking of the archive as a tool for institutional struggles to combat the subalternity of Education compared to other areas of museums. The development of an art-education archive culture implies reclaiming the relevance of these areas in museums and recognizing the intellectual work of education departments.
Finally, Emily Pringle, director of Tate Research (Tate, UK) and author of the book Rethinking Research in the Art Museum, proposes rethinking the museum institution in light of the impact of the pandemic and of the international, anti-racist, civil rights movement Black Lives Matter. Faced with a critical context, Pringle sees an opportunity for the positive reinvention of cultural institutions to contribute to equal access and representation. Research has a crucial role in this process if it is approached as a practice in collaboration with civil society, allowing it to interrogate existing systems and structures, and to transform ways of validating and making knowledge visible within the museum, and of altering hierarchies and promoting shared authority.
Like a Trojan horse, the implementation of a culture of archiving, research, and writing about the practices of education teams is a task with a strong revolutionary potential. Framed in collaboration processes with agents outside the museum and with civil society, they can contribute not only to a greater and much needed professionalization of art-education workers, they can also promote, from within the museum, a new type of institution that recognizes the role of these areas in revitalizing the meaning of cultural institutions in society, for they are the ones that promote and sustain contact with the public.