Date of Degree

6-2-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Art History

Advisor(s)

Claire Bishop

Committee Members

Marta Gutman

Michael Mandiberg

Jessica Hamlin

Keywords

pedagogy, communication, conceptual art, California, dematerialization, experimental education, artist-as-facilitator

Abstract

A network of experimental workshops, classes, and schools foregrounding interdisciplinary, non-hierarchical, and process-based approaches to teaching and learning emerged in coastal California between 1966 and 1974. These initiatives embodied a new pedagogical approach that I call “communication pedagogy,” in which students were taught to exchange ideas and collaborate, rather than to produce objects. Analyzing three central case studies, Anna and Lawrence Halprin’s Experiments in Environment workshops, Ant Farm’s proposals for learning networks, and Allan Kaprow’s ‘Happenings’ course, I argue that communication pedagogy helped to foster a new paradigm for artistic practice: the artist as facilitator and network-creator. By the mid-1970s the new pedagogy had lost traction in educational institutions—the economic crisis caused severe budget cuts, resulting in restrictions to experimental curriculum. However, I posit that, far from becoming obsolete, the communicator-artist was a precursor to the neoliberal model of the network-driven worker and communication pedagogy anticipated the current proliferation of extra-institutional education initiatives.

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