Head Hunting Art: The Artist-Philosopher and the Value of Incorporating Philosophy within the Education of Practicing Artists

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Whilst most (British) art schools incorporate art theory into their curriculum, rarely do they offer encounters with philosophical enquiry. Whilst historically art and philosophy have seemed to detract from one another, our interdisciplinary era has spawned creative, sometimes experimental, texts from the philosophical side of the equation. My recent experience teaching BA art students philosophy (Heidegger and his forbears) reveals that young artists become impassioned when offered the chance to philosophise. Rather than ‘instruct,’ philosophical readings empower a readiness for ontological questioning that impacts art practice.

I teach philosophy as a practicing artist myself; underlying this subject is my concern to highlight the artist as special type of thinker-philosopher (a thinking that always seeks manifestation through praxis). Whereas art theory tends to facilitate an understanding of already established values surrounding art and its social-historical context, philosophy tends to allow students to start formulating their own stakes as creators in a ‘world in the making.’ This, I argue, is of political as well as artistic import.


Keywords: Artist-Philosopher, Art, Heidegger, Philosophy, Art Education
Stream: Art and Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Head Hunting Art


Hester Reeve

Senior lecturer & Co-Course Leader BA Contemporary Art, Fine Art, Sheffield Hallam University
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK

Hester Reeve is an artist who creates through the conceptual persona ’HRH.the.’ Her practice combines live art, drawing, writing and philosophical thought. She has a BA in Fine Art and an MA in the Philosophy of Nature. Reeve’s live art has been shown internationally including former Randolph Street Gallery (Chicago) and LIVE Biennale (Vancouver). For many years the artist was based in Prague where she co-authored the publication Libkovice: Zdar Buh (DIVUS 97), the result of a three year long oral history project examining the political and environmental upheavals of post revolutionary Czech Republic. Her three month long performance “Being & Time,” for Manchester’s Text Festival (Bury Art Gallery 05) won critical acclaim and involved writing out by hand philosopher Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time in its entirety.

Ref: A07P0116