Deschooling Society Podcasts – Episode 6 – ‘Protest in Art School: Rituals of Power and Rebellion since the Sixties’

Jointly organised by the Serpentine Gallery and Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery, Deschooling Society brought together writers, artists and curators to discuss the changing relationship between art and education over two days at Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room.

We are pleased to now be able to offer a series of podcasts of these presentations and discussions.

Episode 6

Photography: Mark Blower

‘Protest in Art School: Rituals of Power and Rebellion since the Sixties’
Panel discussion with Dave Beech, Adrian Rifkin and Lisa Tickner, moderated by Cliff Lauson.

Cliff Lauson introduced the session by posing the question: How do teachers and professors exercise their own micro politics in their teaching?

Dave Beech spoke about the occupation of Portsmouth University which he attributed to an impulse within the student cohort to take themselves militantly and seriously. Within his own work as a tutor Dave attempts to overturn the conventional roles of teacher-student via the technique of perplexity/ignorance.

Lisa Tickner detailed Thierry de Duve’s conception of the varying models of art education. She outlined the difference between the academic model of talent-metier-imitation, the Modernist model of creativity-medium-invention, and the post modernist model of attitude-practice-deconstruction.

Adrian Rifkin proposed that the political left must learn how to run backwards. Using the metaphor of the footballer running backwards whilst the game unfolds, he warned that a rethinking of deschooling must be done with a firm eye on the ball and the playing field. He emphasised that the realities on the current context must be prioritised over mythologies, and that perhaps progress was to be found in the affirmation of loss. He outlined how state education is producing ingrained complicity, and how the educational turn had penetrated all cultural realms from television to the museum. A result of this is that consumers/viewers are happy to play the role of the student. He was opposed to this set of relations and posited that the pedagogical turn should exist as a social encounter as opposed to the transmission of knowledge.

Dave Beech is an artist in the collective Freee. He writes regularly for Art Monthly, is Vice Chair of Ixia and teaches Fine Art at Chelsea College, University of the Arts London.

Lisa Tickner trained as a fine artist before completing a PhD in art history in 1970. She is currently Visiting Professor and the Courtauld Institute of Art, and Professor Emeritus, Middlesex University.

Adrian Rifkin is a Professor of Art Writing at Goldsmiths, London. His website is

Cliff Lauson is Curator at the Hayward Gallery where he is currently curating an exhibition of work by Ernesto Neto and researching the forthcoming alternative art school project for 2012.


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