Without Walls: Performance Art and Pedagogy at the ‘Bauhaus of the North’

Butt, Gavin (2020) Without Walls: Performance Art and Pedagogy at the ‘Bauhaus of the North’. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 11 (2). pp. 126-144. ISSN 1944-3927

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/19443927.2020.1746926


This essay explores a period of education in the early 1970s when performance art briefly flourished under the auspices of a libertarian approach to art pedagogy. Charting developments at Leeds College of Art and Leeds Polytechnic from the 1950s to the 1970s, I analyse how the teaching of Basic Research mingled influences from the Bauhaus and elements of sixties counterculture to create an exceptional educational environment which, in the early 1970s, made possible student exploration of inter-media performance work. Drawing upon newly-obtained oral histories from former students the essay explores the work of large-scale student collective Soft Soap in order to delineate how performance practice was shaped by a pedagogy focused on the possibilities of open-ended cross-disciplinary creativity. Recollections and analysis of sometimes literal, oftentimes metaphorical, ‘walls’ show how performance-making developed as a practice of ignoring or traversing disciplinary barriers and exploiting the relative accessibility of an art college education for students from multiple economic backgrounds made possible by post-war UK state-funding of higher education.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Performance art, art education, Leeds Polytechnic, Soft Soap
Subjects: W100 Fine Art
W300 Music
W500 Dance
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2020 16:37
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2020 14:15
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/41856

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