Organized alongside the 31st São Paulo Biennale, where ruangrupa was a participating artist and coinciding with the World Biennial Forum No 2 , the Arts Collaboratory Tent unfolded from 25–29 November 2014. Developing the Arts Schoolaboratory, one of the four Collaborative Projects, was the main focus of the Tent with members of Al Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, Casa Tres Patios, Cooperativa Cráter Invertido, Más Arte Más Acción, Platohedro, ruangrupa, DOEN, and Casco along with discussing the future of Arts Collaboratory. The meetings unfolded inside and outside of the biennale over the course of the four days with a public evening held at Casa do Povo in the old city center.
The meetings of Arts Schoolaboratory were self-organized, aiming to build off of the project proposal of imagining a curriculum based on the individual pedagogical programs of each organization, so as to form modules to be adopted by another organization in the project. After the presentations the organizations recognized that each project was specifically formed by the conditions of its location and it would be very difficult to reproduce them in each other’s environments.
The members thus started to search for a common vocabulary and concepts from each of the projects. A list of words was generated which then developed into a series of questions on approaches to an alternative pedagogy. From these questions the group began to discuss a set of agreed upon guidelines on a 'learnological', an experience-based approach to learning, which in turn could be used as a reference to develop new programs or test their regular programs against these guidelines. The testing of these guidelines would be undertaken by an internal evaluation and a visit by another member of Arts Schoolaboratory, so as to learn more about the implementation of the project and provide feedback. The meetings ended with a collective proposal on how the redefined Arts Schoolaboratory project would proceed, to be discussed with other members of each organization and collectively edited at a distance over the next few weeks.
In the context of the ongoing meetings of Arts Schooolaboratory, a feedback session was organized in order to share the progress of the project with invited guests from the biennale and region, including Charles Esche and Galit Eilat (curators of the biennale), Bik van der Pol (artists and educators collaborating with the biennale), Helmut Batista (director of Capacete and an Arts Collaboratory associate participant), Graziela Kunsch (artist based in Sao Paolo and biennale participant), Dora Longo Bahia (artist and educator based in Sao Paolo), and Patrick Mudekereza (director of Picha). As the session took place at the beginning of a new project, the discussion focused on how to generate further feedback and the individual experiences of alternative pedagogies through the participant’s own projects.
During the Tent two meetings took place concerning the future of Arts Collaboratory, with the Arts Schoolaboratory organizations as well as Picha and Raw Material Company. The discussion centered on the importance of Arts Collaboratory to each of the organizations and how this could be extended into creating a future vision of the network. The discussions raised a number of important questions: what would be critical to include in a future vision, collaborative projects, assembly, and/or facilitators? Could this be arranged by the organizations themselves? How can you keep everybody feeling responsible and maintain responsiveness within the network? What are the ways to communicate and organize communication? Is there a desire to articulate Arts Collaboratory as a common space for social transformation? Is Arts Collaboratory foremost a space of learning, a space to gain a critical understanding of each other’s areas and shared concerns? How to continue the evolution from a funding program, to a network, to a community? Overall there was a strong desire to continue Arts Collaboratory and work towards articulating it as a commons in the next Assembly.
The evening was opened with a public dinner including presentations and performances hosted by Arts Collaboratory at Casa do Povo. The evening was intended to give an introduction to Arts Collaboratory, the collaborative projects and to the participating organizations. The evening began with the director of Casa do Povo and one of the curators of the biennale, Benjamin Seroussi, giving a brief introduction to the site, its history as a Jewish cultural and recreation center, and its present form as a multi-use space with a collaborative cultural vision that hosts mainly performances and short exhibitions.
Gertrude Flentge of DOEN introduced the past and recent developments of Arts Collaboratory along with partners who were present. Arts Schoolaboratory then undertook a performative reading with Jumana Emil Abboud of Al-ma'mal Foundation reciting the questions on pedagogies that the group had developed, a dense forest of inquiry into modes of education and means of enacting a more ethical way of living.
Tony Evanko from Casa Tres Patios then gave a brief introduction to the process of Arts Schoolaboratory, followed by each member of the group briefly introducing their organization. Minga/Exploring Utopia collaborative project performed their recently drafted collective manifesto on utopias, reading the manifest in turn with their faces shrouded under a balaclava. Tracing the horizon of potential futures, the manifesto encapsulated a multiplicity of desires and in their co-articulation found a manner of imagining a host of different worlds together. Echoing the experience of the Tent, both laying a new ground for Arts Schoolaboratory and thinking in common toward a new model of Arts Collaboratory.