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Leap into Action

Critical Performative Pedagogies in Art & Design Education

Edited By Lee Campbell

Leap into Action asks: "What happens when performative arts meet pedagogy?" and views performative teaching as building students’ understanding of complex ideas and concepts "through action." It provides the theoretical, philosophical, and conceptual terrain by setting forth the scholarly rationale as to what performative pedagogy is at this moment across Art & Design education. Contributions are made from individuals and groups across art and design disciplines who deploy innovative pedagogic approaches with an emphasis on performativity. To underline that Art & Design does not only happen within the institution, Leap into Action provides rich intertextual material that draws upon the experiences of practitioners. Leap into Action is intended to prompt new angles from which to examine one’s practice including and beyond pedagogy, mainly in terms of art, design and performance, and disciplines further afield. Whilst Leap into Action engages with performative pedagogies through disruptions, interruptions, tricksters, liminalities, affective bodies, sensory encounters, and technoparticipation, it calls into question what risk-taking means in an arts school context and the tension (even paradox) that exists between wanting to create a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment and provoking students out of their comfort zones through experimental performative pedagogy and playfulness. Whilst engagement with performative strategies may be a ‘risky’ strategy, the rewards can be great. Enter the unknown, take a leap into action, and have fun.
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Peter Bond


Edgy approaches in performative pedagogies promote what Glenn Loughran, calls ‘the freedom to wander, to swerve.’ The idea, I think, is to exchange knowledge in a classroom, to interrupt established order to detect ‘new-orders’. Behind every student voice is an epic narrative, an experience ripe for exchange. Loughran factors currencies such as the Anthropocene, a new geopolitical epoch that makes us question materiality and ego.

neil mulholland

In Glenn Loughran’s provocation, he advocates ‘a suspension of the goal orientation of action itself, in favour of the freedom to wander, to swerve’. While provocative within the humanities and social sciences, in art education this comes close to upholding the status quo. European art educationalists are baseless exceptionalists in this regard. In imagining their autonomy from higher education, they invariably ←59 | 60→eulogize their goal-less unstructured curriculum. Other disciplines imagine art’s anti-curriculum to be the silver bullet for the responsiveness they lack. In practice, however, the anti-curriculum is mired by its expressionist roots; it privileges atomized art students who learn to prioritise the ‘spontaneous’ asocial forms of self-interest favoured by neoliberal governmentality over the disciplinary ‘reproducible’ forms of subjectivity supported by classical liberalism. Gert Biesta’s misgivings regarding such monadic forms of student-centred education are closely affiliated with Shift/Work’s artistic paragogics. For Shift/Work (discussed in my chapter in Leap into Action Companion), a performative paragogics is not goal-driven, but triggered by what Biesta calls, multiple ‘domains of purpose’ (Biesta, 2017: 234). The intersubjective negotiation of these domains...

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