An Artist's Ignorant Turn

Malcolm Whittaker


In this paper I think through some of the pedagogical provocations of philosopher Jacques Rancière to offer an analysis of the intellectual emancipation of the public in my project Ignoramus Anonymous. Through experiences that the conversational meetings have generated, and my use of what critic Grant Kester terms “dialogical aesthetics,” I explore the potential for emancipation and transformation that resides in a personal focus on what one does not know and does not understand. The paper rests on my interpretation of Rancière’s argument in The Ignorant Schoolmaster (1991) that it is context that is more important than content when it comes to emancipation. As a consequence, I hope to contribute to a nuanced understanding of the place of ignorance in what curator and critical theorist Irit Rogoff terms the “pedagogical aesthetics” of the educational turn in contemporary art, and a new perspective on how this turn can be achieved through experimental performance practice.

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Copyright (c) 2016 Malcolm Whittaker

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