On teaching at CAFA, Beijing

1) When teaching to art students I am interested in the personal questions and desires the students carry with them, because in my view a modern artist (see note 1) should find and develop his individual ways of expression to become a contemporary artist (see note 2).
Teaching based on this premise is teaching contemporary art. Transmitted, traditional skills can be part of the art student’s personal idiom and as such can be discussed, however teaching of these skills is not part of my teaching.
2) The class, as a group of students, is the form for my teaching. Within this form the students exchange their views and their distinctive qualities will show up. Group discussions are required for this reason and my role is to support the flow of the conversation and keep it open. Constantly fueling the group dynamic is my job. No person as well as nobody’s opinion should be ignored or suppressed. It is not my intention to have the last word, nor to block the conversation by judgements. Some provocation by airing an anti-voice can have a significant effect. In this respect. I adhere to the Socratic method and consider questions more important then answers. Working together on self-chosen projects helps to elicit all kinds of questions.
3) Students are young people and vulnerable towards any kind of influences. I am very careful with judging their words. Within an educational scope, I consider all young people talented and full of possibilities, possibilities of which I do not yet know the full range. Within young people many things are still hidden and asleep and can only be awakened at a moment that in tune with their personal growth.Waking up cannot be forced upon them.

Note 1
The notion Modern Artist is an art-historian concept linked with movements in Europe at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. Being moderne was exactly finding your own ways of expression within the context of the arts. The traditional, academic praxis was considered a prisoner of the old political assumptions of social hierarchy and obedience.
It was in a way a belated insight that the revolutionary slogans of liberté and égalité, once again used in the communist upheavals of the twenties had to be translated into art. It became important to promote art as a structural and necessary part in the construction of a new, egalitarian society. A modern artist today, accepts this notion of freedom-and-equality as a dictum for making art and with it, accepting the visionary character of the art as a tool for modeling the future. And thus art becomes a voice in the ongoing debate about the shape of society and the function of art in it.
Note 2
There is an important distinction between modern art which is a term within art -history and contemporary art, a term within art-theory. Contemporary art is not a style. Contemporary art is questioning the role of the artwork within society. Any artwork that is designated as contemporary, shall inevitably be involved within this discourse about the significance of art.