TRANSMISSION 2014-15 – AN UNSENTIMENTAL EDUCATION: ON BECOMING AN ARTIST
At the end of Gustave Flaubert’s great novel about love and history, A Sentimental Education, from which we shamelessly steal part of our title, the protagonist Frédéric Moreau and his oldest school friend Deslauriers reminisce about their adolescence. They remember going to a brothel together, the anticipation and excitement. Once there, thinking that the laughing prostitutes were making fun of him,Frédéricbolted from the place. But in the unconsummated experience, there lies the possibility of fantasy and happiness:
‘That was the best we ever got!’ saidFrédéric.
‘Yes, perhaps so, indeed! It was the best time we ever had,’ said Deslauriers.
Could this be the model for learning how one becomes an artist: A lack of satisfaction that provides a drive? An expectation of knowledge that is never fully imparted? The imaginative reconstruction of the past?
We asked how artists become and why, how this is learnt (and unlearnt), how it is imagined and exemplified. In an era where the ‘artist as personality’ may no longer be thought to be of interest or instruction to understanding art, we look at the external forces and inner structures that produce artist-figures and artistic capacity. What type of fantasy is at work here and how much does the decision to become an artist count in becoming one? Though our students may grumble now at certain of the things we expect them to do, they will soon go on to say (joining every other former art school graduate): ‘Oh, how I miss art school, how I miss the crits – it was truly the best time of my life!’
Transmission, an annual series of lectures and symposia, is a collaboration between the Art & Design Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University; Site Gallery, Sheffield; and, Showroom Cinema, Sheffield. Convened by Sharon Kivland in 2001, Transmission was developed collaboratively with Lesley Sanderson during 2001-4 and Jasper Joseph-Lester in 2004-6.