Anti-Academy is a major new exhibition examining the ideas, processes, workshops and legacies of three radical educational models in 1960s Japan, the USA and Denmark. Comprised of three installations, each relating to one of these school’s programmes, Anti-Academy explores life at Bigakkō, Tokyo, the Intermedia Program, University of Iowa, and Ex-School, Copenhagen.
Anti-Academy is a comprehensive interpretation of how these three academies situated themselves on the peripheries of the art world, existing in opposition to the mainstream and responding to the political, social and cultural climate of the day. A new publication also accompanies the exhibition. Anti-Academy is curated by Alice Maude-Roxby with Yoshiko Shimada and Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek.
The exhibition reveals workshop materials and teaching methods developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s at Bigakkō by Hi Red Center artists Akasegawa Genpei, Nakamura Hiroshi, and Matsuzawa Yutaka; video, slide shows and photographic materials relating to workshops at the Intermedia Program, Iowa, by Hans Breder, Vito Acconci, Mary Beth Edelson, Elaine Summers and others; and documents and early 1960s/1970s collective and individual works by Ex-School artists Poul Gernes, Per Kirkeby, Bjørn Norgaard, John Davidsen, Peter Louis-Jensen and Henning Christiansen. The exhibition also showcases artefacts from these archives: films, photographs, journals, objects, paintings, teaching notes, instructions, correspondence between the institutions and artists, and publicity materials.
Bigakkō can be seen to draw most directly from its political context. Founded in 1969 by the publishing house Gendaishichō-sha, infamous for publishing an eclectic selection of controversial contemporary Japanese writing, alongside French philosophy and political theories, Bigakkō also exercised an extraordinary high-disciplined learning environment. The school employed the most radical artists of the day and the teaching programme involved diverse approaches, from vociferous political conferences to quiet meditation.
The Intermedia Program, University of Iowa was established by German artist Hans Breder. Here, students experienced workshops by visiting artists with an emphasis on exploring ‘the boundaries between media, between artistic and scholarly practices, between genres, between social and political universes, between viewer and artist’. Key to its early years was the involvement of visiting artists who developed work with student participation, including creations by Robert Wilson and Allan Kaprow amongst others. Anti-Academy includes works made with students (notably with the year group that included Ana Mendieta and Charles Ray) by Elaine Summers, Mary Beth Edelson and Vito Acconci, alongside a broader review of the archive.
Ex-School (the ‘Experimental School’) was established in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1961 by Troels Andersen, art historian of the Russian avant-garde, along with artist Poul Gernes. Participants included Per Kirkeby, Henning Christiansen, Bjørn Norgaard and others. Ex-School artists wished to discard traditional notions of the artist and used various strategies to achieve collective outcomes, advocating a collective anonymity over the pursuit of personal individual careers. Ex-School rejected the dimensions of artistic creation, instead embracing group practice working across genres and styles.
This major international symposium explores the themes and context of Anti-Academy. Speakers include:
Alice Maude-Roxby: Curator, Anti-Academy; Falmouth University
Yoshiko Shimada: Curator, Bigakkō section, Anti-Academy; Kingston University
Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek: Curator, The Intermedia Programme section, Anti-Academy
Tania Ørum: University of Copenhagen
Sunil Manghani: Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton
John Reardon: Goldsmiths College, University of London
Verina Gfader: University of Huddersfield
Dean Kenning: Kingston University
Joan Giroux: Columbia College, Chicago