Agulhas Negras – A Summer Session. On the Necessity to Discuss Social Functions of Art

Agulhas Negras was founded to offer a space for the encounter and the exchange of artists from Europe and Latin America and to discuss the social functions of art with them. This encounter is based on communication, discussion, exchange and the experimenting with contemporary forms of artistic learning, teaching and production. The format of Agulhas Negras combines traits of an academic and an experimental structure – which neither an art school nor an institutional context can offer – and thus enables to play with the forms, in which we perceive and experience artistic creativity and to accompany them discursively.
An important reference is, on the one hand, the Black Mountain College, in which European and American students and professors came together at a secluded place in the mountains of North Carolina (USA) in the course of two decades (1933-57), to jointly learn, work, and, above all, to make art – apart from the strain of metropolitan life. On the other hand, the book „The Ignorant Schoolmaster“ by the French philosopher Jacques Rancière, published in 1987, gave an important impulse for this project. Rancière here describes how the traditionally hierarchical relation between student and professor can be broken open and how teaching and learning can stand in a dialectical relation towards each other. Starting from these influences, the only preset checkpoint ist he common daily dinner. The artists participating in Agulhas Negras were asked to develop proposals for an activity which can be jointly conducted by the group during the stay in Campos do Jordão. Form, content and duration of the joint occupation are entirely facultative, the only precondition is to start from one’s own artistic practice and to venture into until then unknown territory.
This way, each artist at the same time takes on parts of the responsibility how s/he wants to benefit from the occasion and there remains enough space for thinking and the development of ideas as well as for personal exchange.
After the return to São Paulo, the participants develop different interventions into public space and try out different approaches on how to get in touch with the visitor and to integrate him into the discussion together with Sala Zero, a program of the Education Department of CCSP. These interventions range from speed-lectures, conversations, discussions, performative actions to concrete interventions into public space.
The Goethe-Institute hosts two roundtable conversations on the subjects “Collaborative Creation" and "Art, Experiment and Learning.” The participants of Agulhas Negras meet artsits and curators from São Paulo to exchange experiences about the repective differing pactices and to discuss them. The conversations are moderated by the two project initiators, Ellen Blumenstein and Carla Zaccagnini. The starting point for “Collaborative Practices” are the social dynamics which the group has experienced during their stay in Campos do Jordão. We would like to confront these with the other discussion partners which come from differing collaborative contexts. Fort he second discussion on “Art, Experiment and Learning”, we are especially interested in processes and experience of teaching and learning– beyond conventional institutional contexts. Startig from the important historic reference, the Black Mountain College and the theses of Jacques Rancière on emancipated learning, we again ask the participants of Agulhas Negras for their impressions of the last two weeks and intend to relate them to the experiences of the other discussion partners. Together with the internet plaform Forum Permanente Agulhas Negras has developed a homepage which is available as a communication platform and for the preparation and accompaniment of the academy and the activities in Campos do Jordão and São Paulo. Here, all activities are documented by international students and collegues from Forum Permanente (audiovisually and text based), who are invited to participate in Agulhas Negras. Daily, we upload new images and comments on this page, so that anyone who cannot be in Campos do Jordão oder São Paulo personally, can follow the events online. This documentation will successively be used to develop a four-lingual publication, which not only reflects on the experiences with Agulhas Negras, but also intends to meditate on artistic production and its social function today.