“There is no halfway with art. We wake up thinking about it and we go to sleep thinking about it. We go everywhere looking for it, both artists and non-artists. It is very mysterious the fast hold it has upon us considering how little we know about it.” (From “Writings” by Agnes Martin)
Truth – pre-existing, constructed, invented, dreamt – is converted into images, and these image creations are often based on intricate processes that cannot be understood rationally. Chance plays a role, the involuntary, a balancing act between wanting and letting go, discipline, dreaming, reﬂecting, and simply letting things happen. Also necessary is the talent that we call fantasy; nothing is possible without an alert spirit, without curiosity, attention, impudence, cockiness, courage and even arrogance. All things that cannot be taught. Nonetheless, I try to stay close to these processes with my students, pursuing what they put into images, what they say, what happens to them and what they formulate as intentions.
In the ideal case, the spark will ignite anew in encounters with the student every time: in every vague beginning, when considering an idea, when marvelling at a new idea, at every tentative visualisation of a notion, at every surprising path taken, at the power of unimagined postulations. Ideally, this will result in a type of teaching that cannot be more than accompaniment along individual paths, productive argument in groups, critical questioning of positions, the common observation of works of art and of reality. As a teacher, I should be capable of marvel, of being surprised; under no circumstances should I know IT ALL, but nonetheless I should know a lot from experience. A teacher can talk about the relationship between form and content, about the discrepancy between imagination and reality, about the suitability of media, about the necessity for precision, the relative importance of mastering craft skills, and the positioning of one’s own work in societal and artistic contexts. On the other hand, we as teachers have no inﬂuence on visuals as such and their origins and the intensity of their form, this additional quality that they have above and beyond intentions.
Often we are mainly concerned with: encouraging, stimulating, supporting, helping to dig, arousing attention, focussing perception, creating opportunities, showing images, pointing out texts, opening doors, making possible certain viewpoints, creating links, provoking contradictions, indicating paths, helping to deal with failure, posing questions. And not giving answers.
Everything else follows necessarily, but secondarily, as a preparation for life out in the open after university: Self-presentation and text-writing, copyright and contractual negotiations, and self-management including related areas and extension of one’s professional area. We become involved in the contradiction between anarchistic assertiveness and the dull reality of life. Art claims a free space that is not there and, at best, that we can only reinvent again an again by our actions.
Prof. Andrea Zaumseil
Unterburg Giebichenstein (Giebichenstein Lower Castle), South wing
Seebener Straße 1, 06114 Halle