Sophie Mak-Schram is an art historian, producer, educator and occasional practitioner. She holds a Research MA (cum laude) in Arts and Culture from Leiden University, a Postgraduate Certificate (merit) in Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy from the University of Leeds, and a BA (hons) in English Literature and History of Art from the University of York. She has worked for, amongst others, immersive theatre company Punchdrunk, global university Minerva Schools, artists development organisation, UK New Artists and art platform for the global South, the Cera Project, as well as for various arts collectives and initiatives. Both academically and professionally, she likes to think through how knowledge is constituted around, with and alongside art, and what political, social and cultural implications these knowledges have. She is specifically interested in decolonial and feminist approaches, alternative temporalities and that which exceeds current art historical canons and methods.
Art and education have long been entangled terms: from the implicit educational import of exhibitionary practices through to the ways in which many artists make their living through teaching alongside their artistic work. My research takes its starting point from the contemporary moment, in which the continued proliferation of artistic projects that call themselves ‘academies’, ‘universities’ or ‘schools’ converges with the widening of artistic remit and purpose in the face of austerity measures and funding declines across Europe, and both of these intersect with a neoliberal emphasis on education as a solution, and thereby policy priority, for societal issues.
The ways in which artists are consciously choosing not to materialise but make with, critically challenge existing institutions and forms of knowledge - both in how institutions grapple with ‘knowing’ this new work, and in how the position of the artist shifts within this collaborative context to allow the production of multiple outcomes. My research intends to explore the different modes of study (Moten and Harney) that artists, through the creation of para-institutional educational projects are instigating. By conceptualising these para-institutional projects that have educating or knowledge-producing as part of their purpose as study, I aim to develop a methodological framework to think with socially engaged practices, without reducing or coopting socially engaged practices back into a binary artist/public or author/reader relation. The pedagogical also produces subjectivities – my question revolves around what other (feminist, decolonial) subjectivities might be produced if we read certain aesthetic-political practices as pedagogical propositions. Beyond ideas of institutional critique or its more current evolution, instituent critique (Raunig), I plan to explore the ways in which these modes function as propositions for pedagogical potentialities; what they make possible or bring into being.