In the Parallax project we discuss issues concerning the role of the art academy and the educational processes it involves itself in. We cannot deny that the Academy changes according to the same rhythm of change as does our world, society, city, house and street. This rhythm also governs the transformation of the artist and art itself. There will be no ready-made answers, as the issues we have been discussing in principle belong to the domain of natural sciences, and are consequently subject to empirical observation and statistical analysis which can lend only limited credence to our conclusions.
To put it simply, parallax is an error in reading, which by definition creates room for dialogue and discussion. It determines the process of observing moving objects in relation to other objects, which changes with the changing location of the moving observer. In such a situation, we may suffer a partial loss of visual acuteness, but this is the mobility that conditions the obtaining of the complete vision. What matters are not simple defi nitions but questions and differences, which is why the very term of parallax makes a good starting point for cooperation, allowing discussion and confrontation. We subjected ourselves to a process where we are simultaneously observing and being observed. The project is based on dialogue and derives its character from a dualism of perspectives. We assumed that the exchange of views and artistic approaches would provide impetus for exploring the role and function of artistic education in the rapidly changing contemporary world.
In 2017, the first Parallax book is published. In keeping with the spirit of dialogue that the Parallax project embraces, the book sets up a discourse. As well as documenting the two exhibitions, at AFA Katowice in 2015 and Chelsea College of Arts in 2016, the 10 essays in this book are themselves a kind of conversation. Each essay, in one way or another, represents a response to the previous text. And each one is also designed to provoke a retort. Like the radically varying artworks which made up the exhibitions in Katowice and London, the discourses that the texts explore at times stay within a familiar form and, at others, jolt from historical fact to fantastical fiction. But running through each of the texts are a thread of fundamental questions about points of view, institutional change, social transformation and political upheaval.
The exchange between the two schools was initiated at a crucial moment. The history of Chelsea College of Arts goes back to 1895. Ten years had passed in 2015 since the institution moved into a new location at Millbank in central London. The opening of the new AFA building, accompanied by the completion of other institutions such as the Silesian Museum and the new concert hall for the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra was part of an exceptionally dynamic process of the city’s revitalisation, achieved through developing its cultural infrastructure. The year 2015 may then be considered a turning point that provokes not only recapitulation, further transformation and updating but also questions concerning the future. I hope that the discussion taking place on many Academic levels will create new opportunities, will reformat our thinking about artistic education and provide new spaces where we will be able to tackle the upcoming challenges.
Currently in Parallax network are: Chelsea College of Arts London, HDK-Valand. Academy of Art and Design/University of Gothenburg, University of Plymouth and Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice.