Saturday, January 2, 2010

Discussion and Exhibition: "Darcy Lange: The Art of Teaching"

Darcy Lange, from Study of Three Birmingham Schools, UK, 1976.
Courtesy Darcy Lange Estate and Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.­

Date: January 7, 2010, 7–9 pm
Location: Cabinet, 300 Nevins Street, Brooklyn, NY
FREE; no RSVP necessary

Jeff Dolven and Simon Critchley will host a discussion on the relationship between pedagogy and art by showing segments of videos from Cabinet’s current exhibition of work by New Zealand artist Darcy Lange (1946–2005). In the 1970s, Lange took his video camera into schools in Birmingham and Oxfordshire to record the daily business of the classroom, and then put teachers and students on camera again as they watched the record he had made. The result is a penetrating and sometimes uncomfortable study—across a wide range of schools and social classes—of the strange combination of ordinariness and performance that occurs in every classroom. The panel will consider pedagogy as a work of art, and look beyond Lange’s work to the surge of interest in didacticism as a mode and motive for contemporary artists.


Simon Critchley is a philosopher who teaches at the New School. His books include The Book of Dead Philosophers (Granta, 2008) and Infinitely Demanding (Verso, 2007)

Jeff Dolven
teaches English at Princeton University, and is the author of Scenes of Instruction (Chicago, 2007). With D. Graham Burnett, he organizes the series Poetry Lab at Cabinet.

The exhibition “Darcy Lange: Work Studies in Schools,” curated by Mercedes Vicente, draws from a series of videos by New Zealand artist Darcy Lange (1946–2005) which examine the processes of teaching and learning. In 1976, Lange videotaped a number of classrooms at three schools in the English city of Birmingham, carefully choosing institutions that would represent different social classes. Focusing on the teaching of art, history, and science, Lange first filmed each class in action. Afterwards, he would watch the tapes with the teachers and then the students, each time recording their reactions. The following year, Lange continued the project, this time in four Oxfordshire schools. Lange saw his tapes as material for “research,” an “educational process” in which the reactions of his subjects to the footage were just as important as the original films.

About Darcy Lange
A graduate of Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, New Zealand and the Royal College of Art in London, Darcy Lange (1946–2005) established a career in the late 1960s as a sculptor with large, hard-edge abstract works but soon turned to photography, film, and video. In 1972, he began videotaping and filming under the general theme of “people at work” in English factories, mines, and schools and continued documenting workers’ lives after returning to New Zealand. In the late 1970s, Lange joined Maori activists’ struggles to establish land rights during what became known as the Maori Renaissance when bicultural policies in New Zealand fully came into place, and developed his ambitious Maori Land Project (1977–1981). Beginning in the 1980s, Lange became increasingly involved in the study of music, especially flamenco, and created several multimedia performances involving music, poetry, and art. He died in Auckland in 2005.­

Exhibition Dates: December 4, 2009–January 16, 2010
­Location: Cabinet, 300 Nevins Street, Brooklyn, NY
Gallery hours: Tuesday to Saturday­, 12–6 pm, and by appointment (closed December 23–January 2)
Curated by Mercedes Vicente

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