Unleashing is a college-wide exhibition featuring site-specific, multi-media art installations and related public programming that highlight the concepts of American educational philosopher Maxine Greene, whose idea of “social imagination” provides the ground for the works on display.
Tethered concretely to their structural footprint, built characteristics, and physical materiality, buildings as such change over time, responding to architectural trends, ideological shifts and changing needs in society. Unleashing is driven by the idea of responding to a particular space, Teachers College–a complex of interconnected buildings whose eclectic architecture and whose spatial politics serve as an evocative testimony to how education and society have changed over time.
The exhibition and its title Unleashing are inspired by Maxine Greene’s book Releasing the Imagination. This title has become a hallmark of Greene’s educational philosophy, a philosophy that invites all learners and reconciles a deeply engaging and existential understanding of learning with a vision of equality and social justice. For Greene, artists, like educators, propose how the world could be otherwise. Drawing on a collaborative model, this exhibition puts forward an ethics of inclusion, one that is in dialogue with its built and natural environment, the diverse communities of students, teachers, staff and community members that traverse through or pass by the building daily. The building, as the gravitas of this exhibition, serves as an ethical reminder, to paraphrase renowned architect Mark Foster Cage, of the things that are greater than us.
Through an emphasis on process at the core of Unleashing, we seek to consider the place of education and knowledge production. As a structured form of transmitting knowledge, education is informed by the current ideals and perceived accomplishments of society and humanity more broadly. The fallibility of these assumptions--one that is integral to any form of knowledge--is therefore always potentially transmitted, too, thus making the possibility of failure part and parcel of education itself. Unleashing propagates, accordingly, a double view that links education with research-based forms of artistic practice as a fluid experimental process of dialectical inquiry that is anchored in deep engagement in constantly evolving dialogue, observation, and communication.
Taking our cue from Maxine Greene, Unleashing looks at positions taken by artists who are willing to unlearn what were made norms before them, develop their own artistic language and research based on possibilities that they create, thus participating in knowledge production processes to imagine new prospects and redefining that which is humanly possible.
The exhibition includes works by Fanny Allié, Nadav Assor, Brandy Bajalia, Burçak Bingöl, Jean Marie Casbarian, Gregory Climer, Steffani Jemison, Ebru Kurbak, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Elisabeth Molin, Yasmin Jahan Nupur, Jacob Olmedo, Bernd Oppl, Şener Özmen, Rafael Pagatini, Rit Premnath and Avi Alpert, Macon Reed, Saša Tkačenko, Hurmat Ul Ain and Rabbya Naseer, Jaret Vadera, Marion Wilson and Cathy Lebowitz, as well as Caroline Woolard and Jeff Warren. The exhibition is accompanied by the Unleashing ScreenSaver Project by (c) merry and a commissioned video work by Chelsea Knight that guides visitors throughout the building.
Unleashing is organized by Richard Jochum and curated by Livia Alexander and Işın Önol. The project is made possible by the Office of the Provost and the Art & Art Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University.