Werner Bloß, ISB Munich, Germany


A team of art teachers at the ISB (State Institute for School Quality and Educational Research) in Munich, Germany, is searching for new ways how to teach art and visual cultures around the globe in Germany.



Joint working sessions in Bayreuth and Munich April 2022 (Link)


The aim of this project is to prepare the material necessary to enrich the usual European canon of art with global perspectives. At first, the exploratory gaze was indeed directed at objects from all over the world and from all time periods. Thanks to the close cooperation with our partners in Winneba, Ghana, we are now focusing on examples from West Africa. These particular works will be presented and discussed in a manual for teachers that will be finalized in summer 2022.


In the working process we, the German team members, had to learn to understand how visual cultures and especially how art forms and their concepts can be seen and understood in global perspectives. This involved a sometimes painful look at our own certainties and habits in dealing with the supposedly familiar too. For us, this was a confrontation with unexpected relics of implicit late colonial attitudes towards the unfamiliar, for example an initially thoughtless comparison of incomparable things (everyday object - 'high' art, avant-garde - utilitarian object, cult object - object cult). Some exhibits in European museums look fascinating to our students, but perhaps do not belong there at all. Most objects were never intended to be displayed in the showcase of an ethnological collection.


Thus, the ‘unfamiliar, out there in the world’ always and especially in art lessons requires an examination of our own methods of encounter. Every new object acts like a mirror on supposedly familiar things – for us teachers, but also for the students. Rilke's bon mot from 1908 in the face of an antique sculpture is still highly topical today and valid worldwide:

... denn da ist keine Stelle, die dich nicht sieht. Du musst dein Leben ändern. –

... because there is no area that doesn't see you. You have to change your life.


Reference: Rilke, Rainer Maria: Archaïscher Torso Apollos. In: Sämtliche Werke. volume 1, Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1955, p. 557