Garage has published a booklet in Russian and English specially for the project Bureau des transmissions.
Today, the activities of most museums are determined by a hierarchy in which education programs are secondary to exhibition projects. Despite such asymmetry, the role of education in contemporary culture has dramatically increased since the mid-2000s, which has allowed art theorist Irit Rogoff to speak of an “educational turn in curating.” Parallel to this turn, new hybrid practices are emerging and being employed actively at the intersection of art and education, for which artist and Director of Adult and Academic Programs at MoMA Pablo Helguera has coined the term “transpedagogy.”
An experimental project developed by the Museum’s Education and Exhibition departments, Bureau des transmissions is not only a test lab or an intuitional exercise to improve cooperation between museum departments, but also an attempt to produce an alternative model of relations within the museum and in its social environment. By creating a free and open space—a welcoming environment whose mobility is reflected in its modular architecture—the project encourages and fosters practices that explore interhuman relations (in particular, cooperation and engagement). Presented as a forum with artists’ interventions, Bureau des transmissions functions as a continuous performance, a game, a theater piece, a platform for encounters between communities,
a program of masterclasses, and a series of meetings with the artists and educators involved in the project. Through this variety of activities, it encourages visitors to look at educational strategies as an integral part of the life of the contemporary museum.
Bureau des transmissions marks ten years of education programs at Garage. During this period, the Museum has organized numerous lectures, discussions, masterclasses, and reading groups, and in 2018 it launched a long-term collaboration with the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, which will educate a new generation of museum professionals. This project has been inspired and informed by French philosopher Jacques Rancière’s The Ignorant Schoolmaster (1987), which encourages educators to see students as intellectual equals, and the ideas of absolute academic freedom and “university without condition” suggested by Rancière’s compatriot, poststructuralist philosopher Jacques Derrida (Without Alibi, 2002). Borrowed from the art historian Claude-Hubert Tatot, the original French title—which means “signal office”—refers to a place where important, usually military, information is communicated. Invoking telegraph, radio, fiber optics or any other means of generating vital connectivity, the title suggests that contemporary museums have to be competent in a variety of fields: as well as research centers and incubators for new art they act, as platforms for educational experiments.
Our prediction is that future museums, like universities, will be organized as campuses, where artists act as experts, art as teaching aids, and education takes on the role of social activism. The increasing focus on education in contemporary museums is not surprising if one looks at their structure. Unlike classical museums, they are not based on royal or aristocratic collections, but gravitate toward the university tradition of displaying objects. It is in university collections, with their conceptual classifications, where knowledge is freed from pleasure and aesthetics as such, that the prototype of the museum of contemporary art can be found, and not in nationalized depositories of luxury (regardless of whether collections have been expropriated or donated to the public). As Indian historian Dipesh Chakrabarty points out in Museums in Late Democracies (2002), contemporary art museums are increasingly moving away from scientific rigor, academic dogmatism, and didacticism. They are structures which rely on lived experience and admit non-theoretical knowledge, operating outside strict entry quotas.
This booklet presents the voices of artists who have contributed to Bureau des transmissions: some polyphonic, retaining the traces of live speech, and others which are thoroughly academically balanced. These meditations present an overview of current ideas on contemporary artistic practices, the role of the viewer, the function of museums, and the importance of education strategies in art.