Keg de Souza’s Common Knowledge and Learning Curves at Griffith University Art Museum. Image: Carl Warner.
I am always compromised by art that needs explaining. You look at a piece (or in this case collection of eight pieces), but you feel left out of the conversation, you find no connection, and you walk away frustrated, wondering what the hell that was all about, possibly missing out on something wonderful.
But were you to attend a talk, read more deeply, or have someone explain – then the art may open up to you like the choicest, fragrant bloom. A bloom that was a closed, cold bud ten minutes before.
Suddenly the work is deeply engaging and gives your brain a tiny tingle that spins it off its axis, just slightly.
That is what happened at Keg de Souza’s exhibition, Common Knowledge and Learning Curves, at Griffith University Art Museum.
Given its location within a university, many of the people visiting would be artists, students, teachers, or otherwise those living and working with the arts and education, and possibly they would ‘get’ this exhibition straight up, as the work itself is about education and teaching – about pedagogy.
De Souza, who studied architecture and fine arts, has combined the two here with eight pieces that work together to create discussion points around how we teach and learn. The works incorporate materials such as venetian blinds (those same blinds that keep the enticing sunny distractions away from teenage eyes in class), school uniforms, and fabulous enormous coloured blocks that feel very familiar before you discover that they are giant Fröbel’s Gifts.
Fundamental (2018) is a single shelf ringing three of the four vividly coloured walls, with small slots for single books. The niches highlight the specific thought-provoking titles that in an ordinary library scenario would be lost amongst the crowd. The full list is below – and already on my reading list. Keg has spent time living in squats, and experienced not only displacement but punk political theories that have informed her thinking, and therefore, now ours. These publications seem to spring from that experience, and you could easily imagine dog-eared copies doing the rounds.
Again, your brain spins that little bit more.
The best part of this exhibition is the use of the space for actual classes, workshops and tutorials. One of the audience members in the artist’s talk was a student art teacher, and she was returning the next day for a class held within the space. So the student teacher’s class becomes an installation within the artwork that is within a university that is asking you to think about ways of teaching: Brain now well and truly spun.
Common Knowledge and Learning Curves is thought provoking, and well worth taking the time to dig deep. Try to attend one of the many excellent activations that the Griffith University Art Museum team has curated during the exhibition. And don’t resist pinching a book and hiding underneath the netball skirts (yes, you read that correctly) for a quiet moment.
4 stars out of 5 ★★★★
Keg de Souza: Common Knowledge and Learning Curves
9 May-13 July 2019
Griffith University Art Museum (on tour from Artspace, Sydney)
Yearning: Race, Gender and Cultural Politics – bell hooks
The Skin That We Speak – Lisa Delpit
Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center – bell hooks
Sentipensante – Laura I. Rendón
Education for Critical Consciousness – Paulo Friere
Experience and Education – John Dewey
Outside in the Teaching Machine – Gayatri Spivak
Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Paulo Friere
The Politics of Education – Paulo Friere
Dangerous Territories – Edited by Leslie G. Roman, Linda Eyre
Unrepentant Radical Educator: the writings of John Gerassi.
Teachers as Intellectuals – Freire, P. and H. Giroux & P. McLaren
Curriculum as Cultural Practice – edited by Yatta Kanu
A Critical Pedagogy of Resistance – edited by James D. Kirylo
Mind in Society – LS Vgotsky
Teaching to Transgress – bell hooks
Reinventing Paulo Freire: A pedagogy of love – Antonia Darder
Disciplining the Savages: Savaging the Disciplines – Martin N. Nakata
Pedagogy of Solidarity – Paulo Friere
Democratic Dialogue in Education – edited by Megan Boler
Freire for the Classroom – Freire, P. and I. Shor
Where We Stand – bell hooks
The Undercommons – Fred Moten & Stefano Harney
Feminisms and Pedagogies of Everyday Life – edited by Carmen Luke
Pedagogy of Indignation – Paulo Friere