The métier of living: Art, genocide and education

John Baldacchino (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    283 Downloads (Pure)


    In art what appears to be a condition for change is almost always strategically expedient. This is especially the case when one positions art and change within a prosthetic space. Charles Garoian lays claim to this strategy by posing prosthesis as the fourth dimension that follows a third synthetic stage that dialectically binds a thesis to its antithesis. Re-reading Garoian’s claims against the Soviet and Neo-Liberal renditions of Hegel’s theory of the dialectic, this article argues that such claims could reduce art’s space to a prosthetic synthesis that risks pedagogical and aesthetic ossification. Given the performative élan by which Garoian invests education, this appears paradoxical, especially in terms of the personal dimension by which he invests his art as a metier of living and surviving a history that is firmly marked by the devastation of genocide. Strangely, this paradox is what gives us the ability and power by which we could seek a counter-Bildung. As this articles’s author puts it, in art such a counter-Bildung takes the form of unlearning by which one would exit the predicament of instrumental reason. For unlearning to become possible prosthetic syntheses must be reversed by making of arts education a case for synthetic prostheses. Only then could Garoian’s performative method begin to assert an inverse positioning that would effectively counter the instrumentalization of the dialectic, and with it, that of history and art.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)494-503
    Number of pages10
    JournalQualitative Inquiry
    Issue number6
    Early online date14 May 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


    • Dialectic
    • genocide
    • unlearning
    • Bildung
    • exit pedagogy
    • prosthetic synthesis
    • synthetic prosthesis


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