Reflections on: [to unlearn what]
Part 3 - ART AS UNLEARNING: finding a place : Prof. John Baldacchino
from UWS Artist Teacher Programme
John Baldacchino lastly asked a few questions.
“To unlearn what?”
- “To unlearn what?”
- “Is art ever done or undone?”
John wrote: “ the heretic is he or she who makes a choice without the authority of those who give it.” This is one of those statements that will stay with me forever. In a sense it is what I see unlearning to be all about. It is about not just accepting what is good and beautiful to be right for us. It is about questioning the ways things have always been done. I believe for some “rebel” children this is a way of being until it is trained out of them, until they are failed so many times they join the main stream of thinking. For adults it is also easier to handle those who accept what I say to be true. Does this not damage our ability to be innovative, to win wars, to find new power sources. If everyone adapts a new ways of being, if everyone unlearns and become “heretics” we will have anarchy. If we truly look beyond being uneducated in the sense of unlearning, do we not also need a new way of learning to work together, teach together and be able to measure and judge if our society improves? However to answer the question from my perspective I believe we would need to unlearn an attitude and become heretics like Caravaggio
“Is art ever done or undone?”
If we think about art from an artist perspective I would tend to say, “it depends” and from an art critic stance a piece of art can be undone with just a few words and from a CIE external arts examiner most pieces rarely have the quality of being referred to as finished. I find that quality being extremely subjective and part of a checklist. As I mentioned in my last post I think it has a lot to do with managing expectations, with managing change. It is no wonder that art teachers for art students to create a portfolio that will satisfy the examiner. One teaches to pass rather than to be creative. I find the question referring more to a change of an attitude from working with a piece to stepping back and saying, “I’m done.” So many artists have changed work until it left their possession, like Pierre Bonnard
. I recently visited an exhibition of his life’s work and one cannot see where he stopped and started. I question, “is anything ever truly done, and are not all things being done, undone and redone?
One of my pieces done, undone and redone: Belly Buttons, 2011
- Baldacchino, J. (2004). Willed Forgetfulness: The Arts, Education and the Case for Unlearning. Apringer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012
- Pierre Bonnard collection viewing at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland, 2012. http://www.fondationbeyeler.ch/en/collection/pierre-bonnard