August 20 & 22, 2020
Artist collaborators Litia Perta, Johanna Breiding, EJ Hill, Kandis Williams, and Dylan Mira proposed a Field Workshop: Action Projects titled Radical Pedagogies to address an ongoing discussion around the personal and collective concerns with pedagogy and educational institutions. All artists have experience as educators at higher educational institutions.
A preparatory meeting explored their recollections of their own educational formation and how that experience hoped to inform how they enter the teaching profession. A range of shared questions and desires emerged. The group visualized a future where the learning experience could be less of an authoritative educational model and more of a symbiotic exchange to produce outcomes. EJ Hill described an encounter with a frustrated student who asked, “when did virtual mean video?” The artists imagined a divestment from current educational models starting with a rejection of the video conference meeting (Zoom), a platform that currently dominates the classroom format during the pandemic, and instead, embark on a collective writing and annotation project. The concept is to be closer through process and hope to move toward inventiveness to survive the formal educational campus.
Pre-registrants of Radical Pedagogies: Open Discussion on Zoom received an email update, explaining the shift from discussion online to an interactive writing/annotation project. For those who did not get the email and logged onto the Open Discussion, a colorful screen projected the message.
The message was a bulletin slide, presented with no sound and no visible host. After a reasonable lapse of time, the bulletin slide prompted spontaneous activity by attendees. At first, confused participants expressed in the chat box: “hi! What time does this supposed?”—“it’s already begun it seems”—“who’s in charge here?“—“everyone”— “maybe by having open discussions rather than lectures haha”—"why is it so hard to talk without an itinerary?”
Then, someone discovered the Annotate tool, a Zoom feature that allows participants to draw and add text to the presentation. The doodles began as playful and naïve motifs but soon involved into declarative statements and questions about the role of education during a health, economic, and racial pandemic. Some participants covered the entire “work” with a monochromatic layer, causing the creative process to start over once again.
Participants included mostly artists and educators. While folks drew and wrote on the screen’s image, conversations flowed through the chat box, and some even unmuted their microphones to voice statements and questions. What unfolded was pure spontaneity and collaboration—a sort of radical pedagogy.
Screenshots/responses from the program attendees were gathered and shared with the organizing artists post-Zoom. It was an inspiring yet unexpected outcome. A surprise. A reassurance.
A document project is being finalized by Perta, Mira, Williams, Hill, and Breiding to include text/image contributions from the artists and pertinent articles relating to pedagogy. This living document is intended to be shared with the Radical Pedagogies participants, who now are part of a mailing list for this project. Members will be asked to annotate the document and contribute perspectives towards a final project. The process will also serve as a record for this experiment and a proposal for an alternative approach to learning and exchange.
Special thanks to Kandis Williams (cassandrapress.org/about), Johanna Breiding (johannabreiding.com), Dylan Mira (http://dylanmira.com), EJ Hill (www.ejhill.info), and Litia Perta (www.litiaperta.com) for encouraging collaborative and generative discussion about radical pedagogies through ICA LA’s Field Workshop: Action Projects. To learn more about the artists, please use the hyperlinks provided above.
— Habiba Hopson, 2020 Getty Marrow Intern, ICA LA