Knowledge and Not-Knowledge Production in the Art School

Justin Langlois
To problematize the relationship between art and knowledge, we need to investigate one of the most active sites of knowledge production in relation to contemporary art: the art school. In the art school, tracings of histories long and linear coalesce with activations of a vibrant yet discordant present, all within a scope of activity that is both higher learning and skills-based training. To begin our investigation, we should unpack what sorts of knowledge are produced within the art school.

First, what we define as “knowledge” in an art school inevitably defines where and when we see knowledge production and knowledge acquisition occurring. Because of this, from the institution’s perspective, knowledge is not produced within an art school unless the outcome of a particular sequence of activities or inquiries can be seen as knowledge. At a very high level, we could think about this as the difference between coursework and the conversations unfolding in the hallways after class: one gets recognized for credit, whereas the other is simply a series of social encounters, no matter the level of engagement.

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This article also appears in the issue 98 - Knowledge
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