An exhibition in video format, Undiscovered Words will feature works by Patricia Esquivias, Aurélien Froment, Adelita Husni-Bey, and Agnieszka Polska, all focusing on informal histories and alternative modes of education. The four works examine ways in which words and traditions become canonized, and attempt to offer spaces for “undiscovered words” – a poetic idea introduced in Agnieszka Polska’s video – to expand our understanding of our habits and histories.
In 111-119 Generalísimo/Castellana (2014) Patricia Esquivias (b. 1979, Venezuela) narrates the story of an apartment building in Madrid located on the stretch of Paseo de la Castellana named Avenida del Generalísimo during Franco’s dictatorship. Recounting the past of both a series of murals found in the building and of her uncovering their origin, Esquivias weaves a highly personal and approachable chapter into the history of art, architecture, and politics in Madrid.
In the video Second Gift (2010 – 2012) by Aurélien Froment (b. 1976, France), Inventing Kindergarten author Norman Brosterman, teacher Tiffeni Goesel, and Froebel’s Gifts manufacturer Scott Bultman discuss 19th Century German teacher Friedrich Froebel’s Second Gift, a simple wooden toy that opened up immense educational opportunities, all embedded in the idea of seeing something as both a whole and a set of parts. Froebel introduced a series of instructive toys called “Froebel’s Gifts” that have been deeply influential within the Kindergarten world and beyond.
Adelita Husni-Bey’s (b. 1985, Italy) Postcards from the Desert Island (2010 – 2011) documents a three week experiment in self-guided children’s education, following a class of children, ages 7 – 10, at the École Vitruve in Paris, as they are invited to build their own desert island, without direction from adults or the artist. The remarkable speed and insight with which the children approach complex issues such as the distinction between public and private, regulation and enforcement, and distribution of public resources and services suggests the powerful potential of radical education.
Agnieszka Polska’s (b. 1985, Poland) hypnotic video Watery Rhymes (2014) wonders about the materiality of words, the ways in which the sharp edges of typed letters both cut through and compose our material experience. Floating in a sea of marbled colors, Polska’s written and visualized poems feature the program’s inspirational title: “you are, dear lover, built from words still undiscovered.”
Image: Patricia Esquivias, 111-119 Generalísimo/Castellana, 2014. Video, color, sound; 10 minutes; 40 seconds. Courtesy the artist and Murray Guy.