The Ignorant Art School: Five Sit-ins towards Creative Emancipation

Thursday 25 February 2021 - Wednesday 31 December 2025

A major five-chapter exhibition and event project creatively re-imagines and co-constitutes radical blueprints for a socially transformative art education.

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Thursday 25 February 2021, 19:30 - Wednesday 31 December 2025, 00:00

Cooper Gallery
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design,
13 Perth Road,

Cooper Gallery
Booking required?

About The Ignorant Art School 

Bringing together artists, designers, educators, activists, cultural workers, students and other publics The Ignorant Art School questions what art education is and whom it serves. Enthused with revolutionary solidarity and organised as a collaborating collective The Ignorant Art School creatively re-imagine and co-constitutes radical blueprints for a socially transformative art education that opens towards an emancipated future.

The title of the project is inspired by French thinker Jacques Rancière’s seminal book The Ignorant Schoolmaster, in which Rancière recounts the story of Joseph Jacotot, an exiled French schoolteacher who in 1818 formulated a teaching method that dissolved hierarchies in conventional pedagogical practice.

Repurposing equality as a practice rather than an ideal, The Ignorant Art School examines the histories and future possibilities of art education. Directed towards a revolutionary and creative emancipation The Ignorant Art School celebrates feminist and social activist bell hooks’ declaration of “education as the practice of freedom” * by building communities of resistance and care.

Composed as five ‘Sit-ins’ The Ignorant Art School adopts the activist tactic of occupying institutional space as a critical and creative attitude and praxis to transform the Cooper Gallery into a laboratory for radical, ethical and accessible pedagogies for the many underscored by an economy of solidarity.

To embed and heighten the plural voices and ethos of distributed agency at the heart of The Ignorant Art School, an Associate Occupier will be commissioned for each Sit-in. Devised to be part agitator, part raconteur the Associate Occupier will respond, reflect and contribute to the Sit-in exhibition and Curriculum, actively developing and testing a ‘Blueprint’ for The Ignorant Art School

At the heart of The Ignorant Art School is a Sit-in Curriculum, a packed timetable of actions, workshops and gatherings facilitated by artists, designers, activists, and culture workers. Rejecting inequalities of access by deploying anti-colonial, anti-racist and feminist methodologies, the Sit-in Curriculum is a space of collaborative and revolutionised learning open to all.

*bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, 1994

The ignorant art school Sit-in 3 logo block ...But There Are New Suns by The Otolith Group

Sit-in #3 | The Otolith Group: ...But There Are New Suns

Exhibition Preview
12 October 2023, 6–9pm

13 October – 16 December 2023

Sit-in Curriculum #3
12 October – 16 December (online and in-person)

Image: The Otolith Group, What the Owl Knows, 2022 (film still)

A black woman painting on a large canvas showing the legs of two people on a rug. The painter has a white vest and her braids are bunched in a bun.
Yellow and orange title slide. 12 Hour Sit-in Revel

12 Hour Sit-in Revel

12 Hour event
25 June, 11am – 11pm (in-person)
Held at University of Dundee Botanic Garden

Image: Ashanti Harris with Mele Broomes, An Archive: The Rehearsal, 2022 (performance view)

performance in wooded area
Feature Image saying Sit-In #2 'To Be Potential'

Sit-in #2 | To Be Potential

3 December 2021 – 19 February 2022
Sit-in Curriculum #2
3 December 2021 – 19 February 2022

Tour to Hatton Gallery
19 March – 21 May 2022

GUDSKUL, case study for The Ignorant Art School: Sit-in #2 | To Be Potential, installation view Cooper Gallery. 
The Ignorant Art School: Sit-in #2 | To Be Potential, exhibition view Hatton Gallery Newcastle.

Exhibition installation view. TV, posters, yellow table and cushions by artistic collective GUDKSUL
Exhibition Installation view, blackboards with artworks, print and archives round a white gallery
We could have been anything that we wanted to be and its not too late to change

Sit-in #1 
Ruth Ewan: We Could Have Been Anything That We Wanted to Be and It's Not Too Late to Change

Launch Event
A History Class: An A-Z of Dundonian Dissent
25 February 2021 (online) 7.30–9.30pm
Sit-in Curriculum #1
Spring Term: 25 February - 24 April 2021 (online)

3 September – 23 October 2021

Sit-in Curriculum #1 
Autumn Term: 3 September - 23 October 2021 (in-person and online)

Image: Ruth Ewan, How Many Flowers Make the Spring?, 2021 
Installation including soil, moss, living and dried plants, grasses and weeds, five channel audio installation, 18 mins

A meadow of flowers and grasses in a gallery

Funding support

The Ignorant Art School at Cooper Gallery, DJCAD is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland and Henry Moore Foundation.

Funder logos
Event type Exhibition
Event category Design and Art