[iDC] Praxis-based Ph.D.s

Simon Biggs simon at littlepig.org.uk
Mon Jan 15 03:35:19 EST 2007

It might be that it is more and more difficult to succeed as an artist
without the official stamp of approval a degree or other qualification
allows you. I can see how hegemonic these things are and accept the
arguments that it could all be more open and transparent. I also accept the
arguments that people place too much value upon formal qualifications.

However, I can think of a number of artists doing really interesting (and
recognised) work who do not have art degrees (they may have degrees in quite
different subjects or no degrees at all).

In my own case I left school at 15, had my first solo gallery show at 21,
continue to be an active practitioner (within both the digital art and
general fine arts communities) and have also been active as an arts educator
since I was 29 (including in the US). As an autodidact I have accrued no
qualifications. I take this to indicate that the system (both the art system
and the academic system) is open enough to accept diverse routes through it.
I have found that both communities can be highly responsive to, indeed
hungry for, different perspectives on things and that when you offer this
then things become possible.

As I mentioned in an earlier email, although I sometimes struggle to
comprehend things from the point of view of a student (because I never was
one) I find personally having no qualifications is useful as I can argue
that formal education need not be the only way. I think it is healthy for
art students to recognise that being an artist is not a function of going to
art school. Most people with art degrees never practice as professional
artists but, as Beuys (perhaps cheaply) pointed out, anybody can be an
artist if they choose (although no career is guaranteed).

I don't think my position is utopian.



On 14/1/07 20:15, "Christiane Robbins" <cpr at mindspring.com> wrote:

> But in looking at the second paragraph of your text, I do not share
> the certainty of your statement - "Of course you need none of these,
> or any other qualifications, to be an artist, and we should try to
> remember that."
> While I applaud that notion of thinking, unfortunately, I believe it
> may be more of a nostalgic, utopian yearning. Please understand that
> I believe that one can be self-identified as an artist and not engage
> with the external educational realm.  Certainly, that is an option ­
> an honorable one - and perhaps a more incisive one at that.

Simon Biggs

simon at littlepig.org.uk
AIM: simonbiggsuk

Research Professor, Edinburgh College of Art

s.biggs at eca.ac.uk

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