From the Toolbox of a Serving Library

The Banff Centre iteration of Dexter Sinister’s Serving Library, or rather the thematic residency’s occupation therein, converges around a proposal for art/design education that leaves behind its Bauhaus roots (characterized by a focus on an individual’s creativity, expressed through a particular medium, acting toward invention as the production of otherness) and assumes a contemporary form (characterized by a focus on a student’s general attitude, expressed through a practice, acting toward a deconstruction or analysis of a work’s constituent parts). Quoting from Dexter Sinister’s From the Toolbox of a Serving Library pamphlet, “Given that the Bauhaus was set up specifically in reaction to the particular social and cultural conditions of ±1920s Germany, why does its Foundation Course…remain the default model in, say, ±2020s U.S.A.? If we reconsider what might constitute a good foundation today, initially ignoring the regular distinctions of both under- and postgraduate, and art and design, and at a necessary remove from the crippling bureaucracy that attends most schools in the early 21st century, what progressive [tentative] form might it take?” As they conceive it, Dexter Sinister’s conceit is to reconceive the Bauhaus Foundation Course via the contemporary lens of a Photoshop-inspired toolbox.

There are a number of potential outcomes that Dexter Sinister have put forward, one of which is to make strange the tools (critical faculties, orienting attitudes, et cetera) of the contemporary toolbox, “not in reaction or capitulation, but more as a means of staying awake, alert, concerned.”

I have my own questions to put toward this contemporary foundation course (and my participation within it), many of which revolve around strategies of participation or social pedagogy, but I would like to articulate a divergent one in particular: might a Photoshop-inspired foundational toolbox be less hegemonic than a Bauhaus-inspired art/design education?


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