Project blog: Walter Benjamin For Children

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Educational Artistic Workshops for Children & Youth 

Part of my curatorial practice is devoted to education(*). I work in collaboration with contemporary artists whose work I follow and I invite them to join a workshop proposal for children focused on an area of the city. I sketch a structure and a thematic entry point to this area, and we compose an explorative journey that will allow kids to read that area through their artistic lens using a variety of media. The projects are done in cooperation with municipal institutions and a Berliner school.

#Philopoetics is a pedagogical methodology I developed for educational and art oriented projects which stimulate in children a sense of poetry of the every day life, providing them with the technical tools to capture, collect, transform and present that reality. In these projects language is particularly conceived as a playful tool and at the same time, as a synesthetic approach towards life and knowledge.

The methodology of the workshops are walks through the city guided by different artists; the format the workshop ends into is an archive of assembled materials, collages, atmospheres.

Inspired by the atmospheric storytelling technique of Walter Benjamin’s Luminous Vignettes, we teach the children to understand reality as fragments juxtaposed. Everything has a potential narrative value, all the pieces embrace a perception; sensorial vehicles that enrich their approach to reality. Influenced from Benjamin’s works “My Childhood in Berliner around 1900 – Expeditions in the depths of memory”, “The Storyteller” or “One-Way Street”, the proposed workshops focus not on people or events, but on places and things, all seen from the perspective of the child. The child as collector, flâneur and allegorist all in one.

The aesthetic genealogy behind these workshops nourishes from other Modernist names such as poets Francis Ponge and Ezra Pound, and contemporary writers like Georges Perec, whose works attempted to expose the hidden relationship between the inner life of human beings and the world of objects; a celebration of the simple yet often invisible things in life.

Pedagogically speaking, these peripatetic & synesthetic approach is proven to be a liberating perspective that allows children to see magic in the ordinariness, empowering their individual perception and empathic capacity, imagination and creativity. Furthermore, these series of workshops follow a line of concern raising awareness towards issues on identity, memory & the city.

I conceive projects that stimulate children and youth’ perception of the reality in their surroundings. Projects that infuse in them a sense of poetry of the every day life and provide them with the technical tools to capture, collect, transform and present that reality. Inspired by Walter Benjamin’s books “My Childhood in Berlin around 1900 – expeditions into the depths of memory”, “The storyteller” or “The Arcades Project”, the workshops I propose are based not on persons or events but on places and things, all seen from the perspective of a child—a collector, flâneur, and allegorist in one.

I work with artists coming from different fields, it’s important to present a variety of media to the children so they can channel their own way of expression through the field they find themselves more comfortable with. I mostly work with sound artists, choreographers, performers, object artists, photographers, fictional writers… There are less cultural clashes in these fields. I normally work in the Berliner Wedding Neighborhood, where 85% of children have a mixed migrant background. Nobody shares the same idea of representation and this often leads to frustrations.

The methodology of the workshops are walks through the city guided by different artists; the format the workshop ends into is an archive of assembled materials, collages.
Inspired by the atmospheric storytelling technique of Benjamin’s Luminous Vignettes, we teach the children to understand reality as fragments juxtaposed. Everything has a potential narrative value, all the pieces embrace a perception; sensorial vehicles that enrich their approach to reality. Pedagogically speaking, these peripatetic & synesthetic approach is proven to be a liberating perspective that allows children to see magic in the ordinariness, empowering their imagination and creativity. Furthermore, these series of workshops follow a line of concern raising awareness towards issues on identity, memory & the city.

Projects under #philopoetics series:

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Meine Kindheit in Berlin um 2015. Eine (kleine) Topografie der Erinnerung

| My Childhood in Berlin around 2015 (a small topography of remembrance)
In collaboration with  Marianne Ramsay-SonneckSteffi Weissman und Georg Klein. A cooperation project between Berlinerpool archive,  Galerie Wedding and the Albert Gutzman Schule. Sponsored by Projektfonds Kulturelle Bildung und Berlin Mitte Bezirk
Past_ 12.07.15 

 

 

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www (Wunderbares Wörterbuch Weddings)
| www (Wedding Magic Dictionary)
In collaboration with Aida Gómez (ES)Ulrike Jensen (DE) and Zorka Wollny (PL). 
A cooperation project between Galerie Wedding and the Albert Gutzman Schule. Sponsored by Projektfonds Kulturelle Bildung und Berlin Mitte Bezirk.
Upcoming_ May/June 2016. 

 

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Meine Kindheit unter den Augenlidern. Eine (kleine) Topografie der Träume
| My childhood under the eyelids. A (small) topography of dreams. 
In collaboration with Club Real (Thomas Hauck, Marianne Ramsey-Sonneck and Georg Reinhardt).
Future_ On process, 2017, Berlin Rixdorf 

 


 

(*) Footnote on education:

[Excerpts from SMITH, Mark K. (2012): What is pedagogy?, published in infed.org (YMCA George Williams College). http://infed.org/mobi/what-is-pedagogy/]

Education is a deliberate process of drawing out learning (educere), of encouraging and giving time to discovery. It is an intentional act. At the same time it is, as John Dewey (1963) put it, a social process – ‘a process of living and not a preparation for future living’. As well being concerned with learning that we set out to encourage – a process of inviting truth and possibility – it is also based in certain values and commitments such as a respect for others and for truth. Education is born, it could be argued, of the hope and desire that all may share in life and ‘be more’.

For many concerned with education, it is also a matter of grace and wholeness, wherein we engage fully with the gifts we have been given. As Pestalozzi constantly affirmed, education is rooted in human nature; it is a matter of head, hand and heart (Brühlmeier 2010). We find identity, meaning, and purpose in life ‘through connections to the community, to the natural world, and to spiritual values such as compassion and peace’ (Miller 2000).

To educate is, in short, to set out to create and sustain informed, hopeful and respectful environments where learning can flourish. It is concerned not just with knowing about things, but also with changing ourselves and the world we live in. As such education is a deeply practical activity – something that we can do for ourselves (what we could call self-education), and with others. This is a process carried out by parents and carers, friends and colleagues, and specialist educators.

_/ \_
(thanks for the inspiration!)

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