Even though aesthetic education was not material covered in the Modern School (La Escuela Moderna, Barcelona, 1901-1906), there were several published articles in its monthly newsletter that pointed to the role of the artist in society and the advantages of including artistic activities in the learning process.
More than a century after the death, in 1909, of Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, its founder, we can only wonder why his approach to art was not included in the program and imagine what would have been if it did.
To address this and other issues, my project turned Espai 13 (Fundació Joan Miró) and TENT (Rotterdam) into a classroom with reproductions of artworks and posters, furniture, and all necessary equipment to conduct a learning activity, as well as a recently published book, ¿Y El Arte? The Book of Aesthetic Education of the Modern School, which gives the exhibition its name.
All these objects and resources create a display that has a double function: it serves as the base onto which the installation of the show stands, as well as hosting the activities related to the project, such as a teacher training course.
The Modern School offered a free, rational, secular, egalitarian and non-coercive education for children and parents. Francesc Ferrers' clear comment, on the inequality of the classes, struggled to overcome the obstinate dogmatisms of his era. His school intended a radical social change where the goal was not to adapt the student to fit into a pre-existing society, but prepare them to have a critical vision of their surroundings.
The school was forced to close its doors in 1906 and Francesc Ferrer becomes the victim of theological hate, dominant classes and conservative government, which ultimately lead to his execution in 1909. The model of this revolutionary school continued to influence many other schools after its closure.
In my research I found very curious that, amongst the diverse literature published by the school, there was no manual for Aesthetic Education.
The Book of Aesthetic Education of the Modern School is a book and exhibition where I devise what would have been the art education in such an environment.
But this gesture immediately positions many questions. What was the school orientation towards art? What was their considerations about the role of the artist in the shaping of the new society? How could art be included in such a rational and scientific school program? And what was the context of Art in Europe at the emerging of Modernity? And finally, how can I, living in the XXI century, enter a history so distant from me?
See also A Friend in Commonhttp://pf.chinocha.no/projects/a-friend-in-common