The post-structural artist
In the European summer of 1968 art students sought to challenge conventional training in painting and related disciplines. Some occupied their schools and demanded revisions to their programs, all part of a broader change of consciousness against the narrow conceptions of culture (Marcuse’s one-dimensionality) that permeated post-war society. The complete extent of cultural management in this period remains unclear, however, by the time I entered my second art school in 1969 a path had already been laid for an open curriculum of self-directed learning. At Leeds we were given the world, a metal globe, a signifier for the only project on offer. I took it an ran with it, first falling into a hole while I discovered a path of self-directed learning, then left art behind as a secondary label, while I went in exploration of what could be created in the world.
The idea of the artist as someone who examines first principles, and tests earlier assumptions, is core to post-structural cultural construction. In the UK, the period between 1968 and the education minister, Margaret Thatcher, reasserting control marked a brief period of official support for unfettered artistic learning. The later Saatchi redefinition of culture first through YBAs, and then with Russian and with Chinese dissidents would follow. Today, culture and unitized, tertiary study in the visual arts is again under challenge from without, as localities around the world question how to prepare and survive dynamic change.
Deep beneath the veneer of racism and colonial power a body of relations continues to flourish between people and the living land.
Today that inheritance is finding new expression in unexpected places. See Ardugula A/C
One can ask; what sought of relationships do we need for the future? What kinds of life are sustainable?
There are times when a community can use a good elephant. This elephant spoke volumes about neighbourhood learning in the days before the Cain government came to power in Victoria, Australia.
A core role for the artist is the re-contextualisation of what others would have us believe is normal or natural, but which in reality constrains us, in others' self interest.