The title of the exhibition refers to the work Kids (2002) by artist Franc Purg, produced during his residency in Belfast and New York. The artist focused his attention and the camera lens on a harrowing game of violence by a group of children from the outskirts of the city. In the work, the non-institutional street environment – which provides the children with randomly available materials, offering numerous possibilities of testing and acting out – represents a learning environment. By reaching into the actual environment and trying to change it, the children shape their own experiences and meanings, while at the same time disclosing their own position within the social structure. The artist does not intervene in their activities. Rather, he observes the group form of interaction within the complex social situation.
Taking the work of Kids as a starting point, the exhibition raises the question of how art can participate in an expanded area of education, where indirect forms of learning take place with the extraordinary effect of internalizing social structures and normative behavioural forms. The works presented stem from non-institutional contexts and explore the resources, possibilities and means of learning beyond programme guidelines and other run-of-the-mill ways of testing knowledge.
Jean Piaget, a key developmental psychologist, emphasizes that the fundamental principle that contributes to the development of an individual capable of self-determination and respect for the freedom and right of another is the limited power of the adult, providing the conditions within which there is the possibility of expression, self-directed learning, testing and improvisation. Under such conditions, children can develop their own forms of behaviour and gain a sense of responsibility towards society. The artists presented in the exhibition create such horizontal environments in their works, where children themselves direct the course of events, but they also point out that such open conditions are in fact rare at a time of a general instrumentalisation of pedagogical processes. They illuminate the subtle existing forms of the process of indoctrination and the environment, where such processes take place. They consider open didactic approaches and perceive those elements that contribute to the formation of systems, where rules are formed spontaneously, within the process of experience, without any advance, imposed structure. They are based on observation, improvisation, teamwork and exchange, or else create situations where a certain activity takes place that emphasizes cooperation, joint decision-making, self-initiative and independent thinking.
In her piece For a Better World (2012), Priscila Fernandes explores the mechanisms used to prepare the child for economic life and the existing form of the division of labour. The video was filmed in a small artificially constructed town with a shopping centre, hospital, cafés, restaurants, etc., where children play by taking on a variety of social roles and related activities. The complex was set up by merged corporations so as to offer children a real world experience. The experience of the process of political change and its effects on everyday practices is explored by Johanna Billing in her piece Magical World (2005), filmed in Zagreb. It shows a group of children singing together at regular singing practice. The children born after the end of the Balkan wars are the representatives of a new beginning, marked by a political orientation that, in the process of transforming the system, is indicative of a neo-liberal paradigm. How much space will they be able to capture within this “magical space” that promises a secure future? The possibility of the future as a product of joint decisions is highlighted by artist Pilvi Takala in The Committee (2014). She gives a group of children 7000 pounds, which she received as the winner of the Emdash Award (2013), and asks them to spend all the money as a group, with the decision of how to do this being left up to the children. The possibility of being a collaborator in the artwork is offered by Franc Purg in his new project, composed of three parts – a video, posters and documentation of the correspondence with his friend. The project explores the characteristics that guide the behaviour of the child, especially the curiosity and will to test things out, which is expressed in the early years, and becomes lost through the various educational mechanisms during the time of growing up. At the exhibition, children will be able to interact with the visual material and transform it at will, without pre-given instructions or suggestions on the subject matters of the visual material itself.
Collaborating with children, Andreja Džakušič is developing an adventure park based on urban gardening. After the installation of raised beds in a neighbourhood of the city of Celje, she is considering further possibilities of using green spaces and exploring the basic principles of gardening through workshops with young children. In the work of Marko, Ivo, Matija Brumen uses the photographic lens to follow his nephews from birth, portraying them in different periods of life and creating a document of changing time. Eden Mitsenmacher has been getting to know a girl from England over many years through correspondence, sharing a common interest in singing and exchanging footage. In one of the exchanges, the artist asked her to sing a song that inspired her with hope. Anticipating a selection with a wider social message, the girl surprised her with a song about a private anguish of love.
Curator: Maja Hodošček