Can a bad regime produce good art? Or any art at all? That’s the question that Dr Marion Kant asks in her course on art under the Nazis.
Although the course is about a very specific time and place, it encourages students to formulate a general approach to the arts. They are challenged to consider how important they thing the intentions of the artist are, and how much the context of a work of art should be taken into consideration. They need to decide whether art should primarily be judged solely on its own aesthetic merit – and they ultimately have to determine whether a collective ‘aesthetic’ can exist at all.
As the class contains a mixture of students from different countries and backgrounds, seminars can quickly turn into lively debates. Dr Kant encourages students to formulate their own opinions and even to disagree with her if they want to.
The lectures contain numerous case studies of artists who chose to collaborate with or react against the political regime in which they found themselves. For example, Rudolf Laban‘s theories of movement were based on an interest in crystallography. How does this entirely new method of dance relate to the society in which is arose? What has led some people to continue practicing it today? And why did it not have a greater influence on the development of dance as a discipline?
At an event last month, Dr Kant said of teaching on PKP:
What makes PKP unique is the intensity of the four week courses. I see my students almost every day and they build up a different type of relationship with me and with each other. We can start a conversation on Monday and continue it on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. That makes it very demanding for all participants, but it is also tremendously rewarding. It allows them to ‘get into’ the subjects in a way they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
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