Last week the media were gleefully reporting the forthcoming conceptual art show at the Hayward Gallery, entitled ‘Invisible: Art about the unseen 1957 – 2012‘. The exhibition features works that contain content that essentially does not exist, such as an invisible ink drawing, and a police report of a stolen work of invisible sculpture.
So, what else could All Change Please! do but to proudly curate its own imaginary show mischievously entitled: ‘Invisible Learning: A nostalgic look at the current state of formal education and the unseen absence of learning 1950s to 2012′.
The first work that greets the visitor to Invisible Learning – a triptych – convincingly illustrates the concept of obliterated learning. It begins with a blackboard with the chalk erased with a blackboard duster, effectively turning it into a whiteboard. Adjacent is another piece in which an electronic whiteboard is completely covered in black marker pen, effectively turning it into a blackboard. This is followed by the iconoclastic ‘Essay obliterated by red ink‘.
On display at the Hayward is Tom Friedman’s ‘1000 hours of staring‘ – a blank piece of paper the artist stared at for five years. In response, Invisible Learning presents us with a blank OCR Multiple Choice Question answer sheet which a pupil has spent five years staring at. This is followed by a reference to Yoko Ono’s set of instructions telling viewers to imagine they are looking at a work of art, presented in the form of the current National Curriculum documents and exam specifications telling teachers what their students should imagine they are learning.
While the Hayward exhibition contains ‘Invisible sculpture‘ – a plinth that Andy Warhol once briefly stood on, the next section of Invisible Learning includes a series of items of educational technologies that were once used briefly by famous people while at school.
So here is Bill Gates’ actual BBC micro that he first learnt to program on, the slide projector used to show art-history film-strips to the young David Hockney, and a piece of chalk originally thrown at Richard Branson when he wasn’t paying attention in a lesson.
Meanwhile, instead of Jeppe Heine’s ‘Invisible Labyrinth‘ on show at the Hayward – an invisible maze though which visitors ‘negotiate their way through a maze wearing digital headphones activated by infra-red beams’, Invisible Learning visitors will experience the ‘Labyrinth of Learning‘ in which they negotiate their way through a maze of irrelevant subjects and examinations activated by the current government.
Based on John Cage’s famous 4′ 33″ ‘silent music’ piece, the Invisible Learning exhibition continues with 35’00” of ‘silent reading’, in which a bell is rung to denote the beginning and end of the piece.
Then, in contrast to Yves Klein’s 1961 ‘In the Void Room‘ which featured an immersive walk-in installation painted entirely white and lit by a series of neon lamps, Invisible Learning is proud to present a special immersive gallery in which visitors can wander through empty learning spaces and corridors.
And in this special installation two lone teachers still drone on endlessly, even though their classes went home years ago.
The final work in this section contains another sculptural piece, provocatively entitled ‘Chairs on tables‘, ritualistically created in every learning space across the country at the end of every school day. One is forced to wonder in what aspects of later life this creative learning experience will prove invaluable.
The last gallery contains perhaps the most evocative work. At the Hayward, Teresa Margolles takes water that has been used to wash the bodies of murder victims in Mexico City’s morgue and uses it in a humidifier: ‘Visitors walk through a room just aware of this superfine mist and its relationship to people mainly killed by drug cartels…You feel it on your skin.”
In Invisible Learning, odours extracted from deserted school sports halls, cloakrooms, assembly halls and chemistry labs are similarly used in a series of humidifiers that create a superfine nauseous mist for visitors to walk through and become more intimately aware of the learning victims of formal educational institutions and teacher cartels.
Just as the Hayward exhibition prompts one to ask: ‘But is it Art?‘, so Invisible Learning forces us to question the current provision of formal schooling: `But is it Education?’
And while one-off entry to the Hayward Exhibition costs just £8, a season pass to the entire Invisible Learning experience costs up to £9,000 a year.
Meanwhile, to read an invisible article about Invisible Art, click on the invisible link below:
Photo credits: Flickr Commons: Pareeerica, Jeremy Gordon, Steve Berry, Stuart Pillbrow, Emily Bean, Naraoekim0801, gish700, Calm Drew, Shaylor, True British Metal.