POLIS The Learning Community:
Artistic practices as debating laboratories
Do you think it's important to intensify your perspective as an artist or designer in terms of your own work and the world? Then join us at Polis!
What does the programme involve?
POLIS, a two-year Master's course, considers contemporary art as a dynamic network of debating practices. Artists are not problem solvers; on the contrary, they pose questions by making ‘things’. They visualise complexity, and they generate ideas in order to open up new perspectives. They are not isolated, but instead constantly relate to the social context by means of debate. The artistic practice as a debating laboratory is a strong instrument that can be used to show the intrinsic value of pluriform humanity. According to Hannah Arendt, ‘POLIS’ stands for: 'the organisation of the people as it arises out of acting and speaking together, and its true space lies between people living together for this purpose, no matter where they happen to be.'
What is the goal of the POLIS Master's programme?
POLIS students are trained based on the idea that the labour market is something that you should try to discover as a visual artist or designer.
A critical attitude, and self-reliance and pro-activity in particular, are essential. Where many other Master's programmes choose to pursue deeper, more professional work within certain media, or deliberately focus on the audience and art market, POLIS wants to be a Master's degree that emphasises the importance of a clear position with regard to debate and argumentation. Through debate, we become aware of our position in relation to the world.
Master's students will be able to apply this approach to their job search in the flexible labour market, which means that they will be able to discover new markets by making connections with sectors that stretch beyond art and design. Their job search isn't confined to the 'old' labour market of haves and have-nots (galleries, collectors, museums, clients, companies) but also the 'new' market of knowledge and insight (research, education, science, spirituality, discourse).
Who is POLIS for?
POLIS is intended for Bachelor's students who want to use their initial artistic practice in an environment that puts debate as a learning model at its heart. They see POLIS as an opportunity to explore and intensify their practice as a perspective, and to relate to other perspectives. The way in which their motivation is recognisable in their work is, therefore, the most important element. POLIS participants may be attracted to one specific art educational model, using debate to research artistic practice in the centre of a democratic society. They experience public space as a collaborative platform, use empty spaces as their arenas, approach artistic institutions as intellectual playgrounds, and seek fertile environments to cultivate their crops.
Candidates must have graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts or Design in the last five years. Good command of the English language is necessary. The candidate must be able to apply theoretical knowledge in their own authentic way and relate to relevant aspects of international art discourse. Flexibility.
The Learning Community assumes that every learning situation is a new beginning, an open question, an undetermined situation in which anything can happen. It is a situation that everyone comes to as equals, and in which mutual differences gradually continue to grow throughout the process (the difference as value | heterogeneity). In other words, there is no need for consensus; it's all about open debate. For example, learning doesn't begin with a claim of knowledge or expertise that is translated by individual lecturers in lessons; instead, there are different mentalities and attitudes (pluriformity), situations, conditions, presentations, and documentation that involve knowledge or expertise. This is made possible thanks to a flexible, verbal culture and intersubjectivity. The Learning Community is the instrument that allows this verbal culture to take a central place in the learning process and helps us glean some meaning from debate. Testing is done within this context, too. Students and lecturers are always aware that it does not matter how you as an artist/designer/pedagogue bring added value to the world, but it is more about mediations in the discourse around what the world is actually (pluralism) and what perspective is taken.
 'The didactics of being nowhere', Erik de Jong, 2014
 As such, the model used here differs from the standard, much more pragmatic concept of Learning Community in relation to the Professional Community that is used at the University of Zuyd (P. Hilderink).
POLIS Course design (2 years, English taught)
Let's imagine a random Monday morning, or a Wednesday night, where the participants come together. Let's imagine how one of the participants is central, how that person's ideas and motivations from or in relation to the visual work, if any, are discussed with the entire group. This debate then takes up at least one part of the day and attendance is mandatory for everyone.
This person's work is discussed and examined and analysed until a boundary has been reached and things are seen and said that we did not see at first glance, until we've squeezed the last drop from everyone's insight.
POLIS is a Master's program in which artistic practice through debate allows us to access alternative values in art and society. In this sense, according to the POLIS model, art does not so much contribute to society as it is society.
1: MAPPING I
2: MAPPING II (perspective reconnaissance) How does the position (see MAPPING I) relate to another perspective? 1.Theoretical research - guest2. Materials research - guest3.Artistic Research - guest4.Technical research - guest Research question 1
3: OPPOSITION (positioning) Debate (in collaboration with UM students)
4: CONTEXT (positioning with regard to institutionalised environments/the influence of institutionalised environments on the debate) Excursions Presentations
5: EXHIBITION AS A DEBATE
6: DEBATING LABORATORIES (positioning: research question 2) Debate in which individual positions are discussed with the same guests from Van Eyck Block 2
7: ARENA Reading one another's theses Debate on the relevance/urgency of the artistic practice as debating laboratory
The concept of 'exhibition' is a recurring element of the debate. While the exhibition can be a showcase, it can also be a meeting place, stage, workshop, vehicle, and venue and will be built up, disassembled, and reconstructed at various locations. Work is constantly being changed, removed, and added to. The participants reflect, argue, archive, document, publish, and present. The exhibition is not a prerequisite for debate, but an inextricable part of the debate itself.
The exhibition is a debate.
Two visual artists, a designer, and a philosopher will accompany this unlikely flock of people for many debates (using images and words), long walks, artistic explorations, and lunches.
Karin Peulen, visual artist
Ton Boelhouwer, visual artist
Marcel van Kan, designer
Guido Goossens, philosopher
Ties van Dijk
Erik J. de Jong