Que sais-je?
Project by Ricardo Nicolau
with Braço de Ferro, Isabel Carvalho, Paloma Polo, Pierre Leguillon, Sofia Gonçalves and Marco Balesteros, Von Calhau & Ana Jotta.

Que sais-je? – considered to be the world’s first pocket encyclopaedia – was founded in 1941 and has published 3800 titles by 2500 authors. Translated into 22 languages, it is viewed as one of the world’s most important databases and knowledge transfer sources. But what kind of knowledge does it disseminate? And although several titles have been dedicated to art issues, what link exists between this collection and the world of contemporary art?

Atlases, dictionaries, encyclopaedias are all forms of storing and transmitting knowledge, that have been repeatedly replicated (and parodied) by artists since the early 20th century avant-garde movements. There continues to be interest in these formats, today associated to the desire, shared by many artists, to reconsider what we classify as knowledge, information, communication and data-sharing. Schools, academies and lessons are models that are frequently employed by artists and curators; by exploring their application to organisation of eminently pedagogical formats such as workshops, seminars, conferences (often assisted by slide or Powerpoint projections) and film series.
This project, Que sais-je?, presents books, pamphlets, posters, slide projections, videos, lectures and workshops that have been programmed by artists and publishers, and thus confronts us with various perspectives on the possible meanings of teaching and learning.

January 25 – March 12, 2011
Vera Cortês Art Agency, Lisboa

SALA POLIVALENTE (Polyvalent Room)
Pilot Test
Sofia Gonçalves & Marco Balesteros

SALA POLIVALENTE is a pilot test for a continuous publication*.
The test opens a theme displayed in a room overlapped in other rooms. Superimposed in an art gallery will be a Reading Room, a Round Table, a Workshop and a Classroom. If at first the space appears to be inactive, a mere display scene, it is actually a grid for other events, a notation system for continuous activities.
SALA POLIVALENTE is a counterpoint to functional specialization: artistical, educational or disciplinary. It prepares functional changes and introduces conduct codes for every moment. Each of these moments will only be decoded by action and inhabitance.
As a polyvalent room, it shelters independent models that are simultaneously interdependent. Therefore, understands learning as experience, technique and tactic, but also rule and intuition, empirical answers to the fleeting actions of each game.
SALA POLIVALENTE is then, an analogy to what education and pedagogy could be—collective actions drawn as plans to neutralize tensional forces (learning/teaching, teacher/student, to evaluate/to be evaluated). If the problem is simply to sum up and to test possible programs for the construction and distribution of knowledge, this space is only one set for its writing, admitting several answers but above all, the possibility of error. It implements doubt instead of dogma and gives way to improvisation and to the unexpected. An inhabited space moment by moment, momentarily.

* Publication as public action.

In between teaching and reading, in the first moment of SALA POLIVALENTE (Polyvalent Room), we begin by reading.
Books and texts that allow us to question the notions of education, pedagogy, teaching in a more or less subjective relationship with the art practice. To this generic theme we freely associated models and methods by great portuguese pedagogues, critical voices of revolution and reformists (sometimes dogmatic, sometimes naive), school manuals, fictions, utopias, treatises. All of them mirror its contemporary pedagogical statments.
What do I know about the ways and models of what I know? From the data of this twisted and even though ontological question, we extracted the criteria for our readings.
What is the point of only leaving a tiny fraction of what was written? In this process of consented loss we found a fundamental principle of education.
We also left reading marks as forms of appropriation, as readings that distort (deliberately) the original texts, leading us to other texts (imagining all texts as misleading footnotes of others).
With all these primary notes other questions arose. What are the implications of making visible the interconnected voices of our readings? In short, what is built by our readings and how can we imagine them organically linked in a continuous publication?

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