Eva Kotatkova
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The creator and the spectator

 C’est toi qui as changé – 3 – 

Imagine that we meet in an art space exploring a work of art; we can talk about the meaning that the artist gives us and the meaning that we, the viewers–or spectators–want to take. Some people say that an artist is a teacher anyway; the fact that he or she shows a work of art makes him or her a teacher from the beginning. Not because the artist directly wants to educate us, but because the work invites us to think, to cultivate our senses, to deepen our emotions and enrich our lives. The creator and the spectator, they learn to know together.

The conventional view on education is aimed at explaining. But let me introduce Jacques Rancière’s The Ignorant Schoolmaster [Le Maitre ignorant], where it is argued that explanation blocks learning because it obstructs the student’s journey.

Teachers who rely on explanation inadvertently create a “veil of ignorance” over what the student is expected to learn, thus creating a world of the superior (the master) and the inferior (the student). Jacques Rancière believes that all people are capable of learning without explication because they have all acquired their mother tongues without it. They learn, imitate, and correct themselves; expressed universally, all children will grow up to understand their parents without spending one day in school. As Jacques Rancière puts it, “explication is the work of laziness”.

According to him, the artist should be more like the ignorant schoolmaster who “does not teach his pupils his knowledge, but orders them to venture into the forest of things and signs, to say what they have seen and what they think of what they have seen, to verify it and have it verified” (page 11 of The Emancipated Spectator). It’s about teaching what you don’t know.

This blog post is part of the series C’est toi qui as changé dedicated to the topic of change, and subsequently, how art allows us to learn, to teach, to think, and thus, to improve ourselves.

Image: Eva Kotátkova –Dílo přírody / Work of nature, Raster Gallery, Warsaw (2011)

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