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Who they are' or 'What and how they know' : an investigation by a fine art lecturer into the basis of her own legitimacy

By Ilhaam Behardien


I am a South African Fine Art lecturer and head of a Fine Art programme at a private higher education provider. I present this study of an investigation into my own basis of legitimacy;; in other words the kind of knower I value and privilege. This study is motivated by the my ethical responsibility as a Fine Art lecturer to identify the particular way of knowing that informs each student"s art practice (irrespective of their cultural standing) in order that I can design teaching strategies that will equip each individual with the required knowledge that may enable him/her to succeed in the field of production. Due to the field of Fine Art being a knowledge structure that consists of a plurality of specialised voices that speak alongside one another, there is tension between the legitimation of the students' art practice according to "who they are" and the lecturer"s legitimation of the students" art practice according to "what and how they know". The developing artists experience major pulls and tensions between their own voice, the discursive practice of the Artworld, and the voices of their lecturers, which are highlighted during group critiques. I focus my study on an encounter known as the interdepartmental group critique, where the participation of lecturers and students from the school's other Art and Design programmes illuminate my legitimacy as it comes up against theirs. I examine how students wrestle and engage and are being engaged by myself and other lecturers in different ways in the establishment of their own identity and gaze and whether this engagement is enabling certain knowers to develop a more powerful artistic identity or gaze for achievement in the field than others. These discourses are coded using the organising principles of Legitimation Code Theory. This theory provides the theoretical language that enables me to articulate the tensions that will be used to highlight the kind of knower that I privilege. I identify the movement of the discourse from the beginning to the end of the encounter with each student, exposing a disparity in the development of their artistic gaze and identity, thereby illuminating the inconsistency of my basis of legitimacy. The story that unfolds is that while two students' basis of insight at the beginning and the end of the encounter remains relatively the same, one student's basis of insight undergoes an "extreme makeover", showing that the development of the students' artistic identities and gazes for achievement is in some cases hindered and in other cases promoted. Hence this study reveals that my basis of legitimacy does vary amongst students

Publisher: School of Education
Year: 2014
OAI identifier:

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