Sonic Acts Academy 2018 was a platform for investigation, speculation, and reflection, focusing on educational practices and the critical examination of knowledge production in the field of art. By expanding artistic experience into an academy of engagement and exchange, it offered both a playground and a radical syllabus at odds with institutionalised learning.
Society is rapidly changing under the pressure of economic, technological, and political expansions. The temporary and unstable configurations that make up our world ask for new and flexible approaches to making, learning, and thinking. Specifically, while budget cuts and standardisation of learning dominate our education systems – turning education into a breeding ground for an economy of knowledge-as-commodity – it is essential to re-examine how forms of learning can take place when unrestricted by measurable outcomes or predetermined expectations. Today, more than ever, it is necessary to address the function of art and the artist and to expand the conversation to include the processes of the ‘decolonisation of thought’ – certainly one of the most critical factors in artistic practices today.
Instead of information moulded and pressed into a canon of ‘universal knowledge’ – a canon of power and force – we need to find space for the indistinctness of experience and knowledge that is shaped by our encounters with the here and now. The development of ‘harmonising’ education into exchangeable standards and norms inherently contradicts a process of learning that is personal and whimsical. A festival in the format of an academy allows us to experiment, test, and quickly react to changes in both the form and content of what we should know and invite everybody to participate in the discussion. This academy nurtures an inclusive community; it includes those who resist the privileged spaces of academia and those who do not have access to them. By avoiding uniform formulas of learning and knowledge development, by not levelling out the unique qualities of those involved, and by creating new formats from making visible hidden processes in artistic work, we develop a lively educational milieu that reflects the thinking and productive power of a diverse society.
Sonic Acts has always been a site for experimentation in both artistic practice and theory: a place to exchange, think, create, learn, and act. As the world becomes more radical and unequal, the need for change in the field of education takes on increasing urgency. For answers, we turned to the diverse community of artists, teachers, tutors, mentors, thinkers, and tinkerers. By presenting artistic investigations and research – the processes that challenge the notions of the petrified world – Sonic Acts Academy aimed to advance experimentation by including various dynamic perspectives to the podium. Together, we needed to rethink how education can again become a tool for discovery, growth, development, and emancipation, and not just a machine that disseminates dominant models of thinking.
The second edition of Sonic Acts Academy featured a range of international artists, academics, activists, curators, and theorists, ready to articulate different examples of learning and to engage in an experimental setting free of institutional pressure and privileged classrooms. Their processes were revealed in a variety of open workshops, seminars, lectures, performances, screenings, sensorial walks, and installations.
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Violence at Sonic Acts Academy 2018, Paradiso Noord. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Mario de Vega at Sonic Acts Academy 2018, Dansmakers Amsterdam. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Rick Dolphijn at Sonic Acts Academy 2018, Dansmakers Amsterdam. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Christina Kubisch at Sonic Acts Academy 2018, Dansmakers Amsterdam. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Catherine Christer Hennix at Sonic Acts Academy 2018, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Jennifer Walshe at Sonic Acts Academy 2018, Dansmakers Amsterdam. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Conferenec at Sonic Acts Academy 2018, Dansmakers Amsterdam. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Sasha Litvintseva & Daniel Mann at Sonic Acts Academy 2018, Dansmakers Amsterdam. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Nora Sternfeld at Sonic Acts Academy 2018, Dansmakers Amsterdam. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Sensing the Place at Sonic Acts Academy 2018. Photo by Pieter Kers.