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Urgent Pedagogies: Open School East – Situated and self-directed learning as practice development

Topics in Critical Thought seminar at Open School East, 2019. Photo: Open School East.

Welcome to the first in a series of online presentations, conversations and texts, where issues of urgencies, contexts, methodologies, organisation and conditions of practicing urgent pedagogies will be discussed with a number of practitioners and thinkers. What are the contexts or situations where to engage and what are the urgencies? How can alternative spaces for pedagogy be organised and what are the methodologies and strategies for practicing? What does it take to do this and what support is needed?

Anna Colin is the director of Open School East, a space for artistic and collaborative learning in Margate, a town east of London, UK. Anna presents the platform, how it’s set up and organised and discusses around issues of urgencies, contexts, methodologies and organisation with Pelin Tan and Magnus Ericson.

Open School East run four complementary strands: The Associates Programme: a year-long development programme for emerging artists and cultural practitioners from diverse backgrounds and generations; The Young Associates Programme: a full-time, year-long, accredited art and design programme for local young people aged 16-18 who experience difficulty in their education; The Despacito Art School: a weekly art, craft and functional object-making programme open to 5 to 12 year olds who lack opportunities to develop creatively and The Public Programme: a multifaceted programme of events, activities and short courses open to everyone. Open School East is committed to making the arts a more open sector and to fostering meaningful cultural and social exchanges between artists and the broader public. They do this by making their programmes entirely free of charge and opening them outwards, responding to our locality, and providing an informal and welcoming environment for the development and sharing of knowledge and skills across all communities and generations.

Read more about Open School East

Part one, presentation with Anna Colin, introduction by Magnus Ericson

Part 2, Q&A with Anna Colin, Pelin Tan and Magnus Ericson

Anna Colin is a UK-based curator, educator and researcher. She is a co-founder and the director of Open School East in Margate, an alternative art school with a focus on inclusion and co-production. Anna is also Associate Curator at Lafayette Anticipations in Paris since 2014 and a PhD candidate in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham. Previously, she was Associate Director of Bétonsalon – Centre for art and research, Paris, curator at Gasworks, London, and programmer for Resonance 104.4FM, London. Anna was co-curator, with Lydia Yee, of British Art Show 8 (Leeds, Edinburgh, Norwich and Southampton). She has curated exhibitions at venues including the Whitechapel Gallery, London; Victoria Gallery & Museum, Liverpool; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; Contemporary Image Collective, Cairo; GAM, Turin; La Synagogue de Delme, Delme; and The Women’s Library, London.

Pelin Tan is a sociologist, art historian, reseracher, educator and resercher. She has recently been a Keith Harring Fellow at CCS Bard College in New York and was the curator of Gardentopia project of Matera ECC 2019, Italy and 2019 – 2020 Research Fellow of the Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research (US/Italy). She studied sociology and completed her master and PhD in Art History in the field of socially engaged art. Pelin Tan was in 2011 as a Postdoctoral fellow on Artistic Research at ACT Program, MIT DAAD Art History, at Humboldt Berlin University, 2006; The Japan Foundation, 2011; Hong Kong Design Trust, 2016. She was a Visiting Professors at School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2016 and at the Department of Architecture, University of Cyprus, 2018. Between 2013 and 2017 she was Associate Professor and Vice-Dean of the Architecture Faculty at Mardin Artuklu University. Pelin Tan participated in the Oslo Architecture Triennial in 2016, Istanbul Biennale in 2007 and 2015, Lisbon Architecture Triennial, and Montreal Biennial. In 2008 she was an Iaspis grantholder.

Magnus Ericson is a Project Manager at Iaspis, responsible for the design, craft and architecture related programme. He has a background as curator, project coordinator and educator within design, architecture and art and together with Pelin Tan initiated and developed the Iaspis project Urgent Pedagogies since 2018.

Urgent Pedagogies is highlighting and discussing alternative forms of pedagogy and sites of knowledge production in relation to socially engaged critical spatial practice and design. How can practice engage in issues related to social justice and equality, contested territories and conditions of conflict? How can pedagogy, alternative approaches and spaces for research and knowledge production reach beyond established institutional structures, and through transversal and collective approaches make difference in transforming knowledge? How can pedagogies reveal and bring ways of unlearning and undoing and thus contribute to re-shaping design and spatial practice today?

Urgent Pedagogies is a project and platform for inquiry and sharing knowledge and experience around alternative pedagogy related to socially engaged spatial practice, design and art. The project focuses on the actions and methodologies of these practices that claims and experience unconditional territories and experimental institutional structures. Case studies, practices and discourses of alternative pedagogical initiations, modalities of instituting and affect methodologies are the main core in this project that aims to research and discuss. The project unfolds through an international network of collaborating partners and contributors, an emerging online archive and a series of meetings and public events.