A & HA 6003B Critical Perspectives: A pedagogy of the body
Andrea Kantrowitz, Instructor
Tuesday and Thursday 10-1 and 2-5pm
How can we cut through the disembodied world of touch screens and YouTube kittens that dominate contemporary culture to develop a disciplined, challenging approach to intellectual inquiry grounded in sensory experience? Dennis Oppenheim’s work, particularly “Tooth and Nail: Film and Video 1970-1974”, exemplifies a rigorous approach to the physical investigation of abstract concepts. Using his own body as the medium and message, producer and receiver, Dennis’ work provides a model of open-ended exploration and discovery. In this summer course, inspired by Dennis Oppenheim, we will collaborate to co-create a pedagogy of the body. By experimenting with a range of methods and materials, and engaging in dialog and self reflection, we will expand our capacity to teach and learn through sensory experience and conceptual inquiry.
The Macy Gallery exhibition of Dennis Oppenheim’s “Tooth and Nail” videos from the 1970’s will set the context for creative and reflective activity. Over the course of the program, students and visitors will add their own visual and verbal responses to the exhibition. Themes will emerge from this process of engagement with Oppenheim’s work that will contextualize the ideas raised by class readings, discussions and art making.
During the morning seminar we will critique student’s art work and discuss class readings. In the afternoon field observations, students will collaborate on art works, visit museums and galleries together, and dialog with visiting artists and other experts. Students will document responses to readings, personal reflections, observation and capture ideas and images in a written and visual field journal. This journal will serve to generate ideas and images for ongoing artwork and a final project. Art making will include performance, installation and video, as well as collaborative and experimental drawing and work in other media of students’ choice. Short written reflections on course work will be required each week. The final project will include both visual and written components, and will be individually determined in consultation with the instructor.
Partial list of readings:
Damasio, A. (2012). Self comes to mind: constructing the conscious brain. Random House Digital, Inc..
Danto, A. (2000). Art and Meaning. In Theories of Art Today (pp. 130-140).
Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Greene, M., (1995). Releasing the Imagination: Essays on Education, the Arts, and Social Change. San Fransisco, Jossey-Bass.
Hyde, L. (1997). Trickster makes this world: Mischief, myth, and art. Farrar Straus & Giroux.
Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in the Flesh: The embodied mind and
its challenge to western thought. New York: Basic Books.
Merleau-Ponty, M. (1964). Eye and Mind (C. Dallery, Trans.). In J. Wild (Ed.),
The primacy of perception (pp. 159-192). Chicago: Northwestern
Neill, A., and Ridley, R. (Eds). (2007). Arguing About Art: Contemporary Philosophical Debates. New York, NewYork: Routledge Publishing.
Rilke, R. M. (2011). The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge: A Novel. Vintage.
Stiles, K., & Selz, P. (Eds.). (2012). Theories and documents of contemporary art: A sourcebook of artists’ writings, (Second Edition, Revised and Expanded by Kristine Stiles) Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
A Pedagogy of the Body
Ah, but poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough) — they are experiences. For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents who you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn’t pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else —); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet, restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along high overhead and went flying with all the stars, — and it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves — only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.
– Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge