Since your fax last week I have been thinking about that text on teaching;
thinking about how to write it, wanting to write it. I was waiting - before
responding - to be able to say I could or couldn't. I didn't want just
to tell you again that I want to write it. I do. But it seems that I can't.
The text is called "An Address to Students (Not Delivered)"
and began as notes for the seminar I am trying to conduct at the Städelschule
here in Frankfurt. The problem I have writing is related to the problem
I am having with the seminar. I don't know what to say.
We can read Bourdieu. I can offer my critique of art institutions (including
training institutions). I can regale the students with experiences and
perceptions which substantiate this critique (and they can respond with
their own). The strange thing about sociological analysis is that its
value lies in its capacity to provide such a detailed and systematic account
of what we all know already and experience
- actually - everyday: that art making is a profession of social fantasy
in which producers and consumers collude in maintaining a system of belief
which supports the value of their competencies and dispositions, and that
this system of belief is founded on a largely ideological autonomy which
requires a denial of the specific material and professional interests
of producers. Art academies have the contradictory function of providing
vocational training in a profession whose character as a profession must
be denied in order for it to be reproduced. Such training can exist only
as a form of pure induction. What gets transferred is less a specific
set of competencies than faith in the value (and existence) of artistic
competence as such - to start with, the competence apparently possessed
by art professors, as evidenced by the fact that they were awarded their
jobs. Art academies are there to ennoble investments in futures which
only exist to the extent that they themselves have brought them into being.
I can tell the students this but, for the most part, they know it already.
I think we all do - for the most part. What keeps that knowledge from
fully impacting practice is the absence of any other real option - however
unrealistic the art option may be. Of the three or four students really
participating in the seminar, one already knows he will not go into the
art world. Another is becoming more disillusioned every day. What can
I say? I can't offer them an alternative. While I have my ideas about
services, about agencies, about other professional models, I can't in
good conscience attempt to convince a student to exchange an investment
in a future which probably doesn't exist for an investment in a future
which certainly doesn't exist at present and which I'm not sure I can
make exist for myself - much less for them. The professor who provides
introductions to gallerists or an introduction to the scene at the bar
offers, at least, a concrete entry into something.
I don't know what to tell them. So, my "Address to Students (Not
Delivered)" remains unwritten as well. I'm sorry that I waited until
the last minute to tell you. It's a way of giving up without giving up.
Other than this, I hope the publication is going well. Best wishes for
the New Year.
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