Alternative art schools
Alternative art schools: Free School (in a New Dark Age)
Set up in 2008 for the New Dark Age exhibition, Free School is a non-hierarchical, collectivist, no-cost, peer-led art school.
Within Free School educational practices merge with visual arts practice, a performance ritual becomes an educational experiment and a cartoon the starting point for a critical and theoretical publication.
Free School is a loose collective of artists with disparate and intertwining agendas. It was set up to oppose marketisation, internal competition, the dominant ethos of branding, the empty careerism encouraged by the 'Research' culture and the increasing cost of education that had become intolerable within formal institutions.
Anyone can be part of Free School by joining the email list, initiating or participating in a project or contributing to the blog. This informal structure was agreed by consensus following theoretical discussions that took place during the New Dark Age exhibition. Since then members have produced a number of publications and participatory projects ranging from Lady Lucy's drawing workshop to Oreet Ashery's Free School in the shape of a performance that used a model based on Talmudic Learning. Some members are currently active in the anti-cuts movement and one member is presenting a free school event about Nollywood cinema.
Free School exists "to say things can be done differently by proposing a small alternative model of how to organise education." Above all, Free School is a place for its members to explore and develop their practice through peer support and exchange.
From an interview with John Cussans and Jonathan Trayner.
First published: Research papers March 2011
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