Learning by Doing: A Politics of Practice

Curated by Line Ellegaard

4 October - 16 November, 2019

The exhibition Learning by Doing: A Politics of Practice aims to shed light on the political and pedagogical dimension of artists' practices – what and how they do, rather than the objects produced – to examine the transformative potential of art. The exhibition draws its title from the American philosopher John Dewey's idea that learning should be relevant and practical, not just passive and theoretical, and combines this with the active knowledge production of contemporary art, which often incorporates more abstract disciplines such as politics, economics and philosophy in the artistic process.

The exhibition brings together artists who share an impulse to question the cultural and socio-political context they find themselves in, and who through this approach marshal a unique politics of practice – one that takes upon itself to galvanise other ways of doing, thinking and learning through creative visual practices, diverse collaborations and critical pedagogy. Where works by The Alternative School of Economics and FACTORY WORKERS UNITE reflect the communities that form as part of artists' social and educational practices, Arendse Krabbe, in collaboration with Mirko Nikolić, and Rosa Johan Uddoh encourage the viewer to reconsider preconceived perspectives, through their self-educational and transformative practices. Common to all the works is a desire to persistent investigation of what connects and separates us from each other and the world around us.

Learning by Doing: A Politics of Practice aims to open a space for conversation about the possibilities and problematics raised by notions of self-education, experimental forms of collective learning, and alternative ways of being together. By focusing on the agency of art as a way of making counter-narratives visible and offering resistance to oppressive ideologies, the underlying premise of the exhibition is the notion of art as useful – for the self, the other, and the community – an anathema to the sort of demands for ‘usefulness’ made of the arts in the cultural policies of neoliberal political parties.

In connection with the exhibition Arendse Krabbe and Mirko Nikolić will perform a poetic sensory situation in collaboration with lichen titled inter planetary trans-temporal metempsychic drifters, at the Assistens Cemetery in Copenhagen on 2 November 2019 at 14:00.


The Alternative School of Economics is a collaboration between artists Ruth Beale and Amy Feneck. It is both an artwork and a way of working; it links artist practice with self-education as a way to study economics, creating a framework for investigating political, social and cultural issues. As an ‘alternative school’, Ruth Beale and Amy Feneck set out to learn together, collaboratively, in a non-hierarchical way. It is a social practice and form of pedagogical critique, questioning ideas through conversations and relationships. By studying economics through the lens of day-to-day reality and personal experience, their aim is to respond to the changing pressures on the societies (local and global) in which they live and work. Recent projects include The Britishness Project, engaging young people in Colchester (2017-2018), and Speaking to the City, a collaborative billboard project at Phytology, London (2018-2019). They are currently artists in residence at Gasworks, London.

Arendse Krabbe graduated from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Visual Arts in 2014, and previously studied at the University of Copenhagen and Goldsmiths College in London. Krabbe works mainly in collective constellations and with projects that focus on processes and collaboration. Her work examines hierarchies and power structures that shape our mental and physical being in this world. The work manifests itself as workshops, reading sessions, listening situations, exhibitions with media text, sound, video and performance. Krabbe has exhibited at Kunsthall Trondheim, Danske Grafikers Hus, Ambika P3 in London, Museum Ovartaci in Risskov, Lumiar Cité in Lisbon and Capacete in Rio de Janeiro.

FACTORY WORKERS UNITE is a collaboration between artists Tina Helen and Søren Thilo Funder. FACTORY WORKERS UNITE work with questions of position within a social, political and aesthetic field of critical commentary and response. Their context specific approach is often bracketed with a self-reflective moment of pause and an openness to the constant possibility of the artist’s culpability. Studies of the practical formats of a contemporary globalized art scene and the paradoxes of participation, knowledge production and community-building within it, alongside an insistence on the importance of contemporary art with political agendas, forms the baseline of this work.

Rosa-Johan Uddoh is a London-based artist exploring an infatuation with places, objects or celebrities in British popular culture, decolonisation, and the effects of this on self-esteem. Making work across ceramics, performance, fan-fiction and sound, she is influenced by her architectural background, rooting stories in specific spaces and materials. Uddoh studied Architecture BA at Cambridge University and completed her MA Fine Art Media at The Slade School of Fine Art as a Sarabande scholar. She is a 2018 New Contemporaries artist and the first Liverpool Biennial & Liverpool John Moores University Fellow. Recent solo exhibitions include, 'Studies for Impartiality' at Jupiter Woods and ‘Sphinx At The Crystal Palace’ at Black Tower Projects, both in London, 2019.

Line Ellegaard is a curator, editor and part-time lecturer at the University of Copenhagen. She has co-organised The Curatorial Thing, SixtyEight Art Institute’s summer intensive for curatorial research in 2018 and 2019. She was formerly Associate Editor on the Exhibition Histories programme of research, events and publication at Afterall, a research centre at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. She has curated at 68 Square Metres, IMO projects and Central Saint Martins, and written for various publications, including Afterall Online, InVisible Journal: An Electronic Journal of Visual Culture and Introducing.