The body was a site of learning, not just the mind

Classrooms are often very static places, with students under instruction to stay seated and move only with permission. By contrast, in artists’ activities there was generally much more movement, greater use of the body to make meaning, more attention to the development of physical skills, gesture, mime – and a greater sense of the need to coordinate with other people’s bodies in shared endeavours.

Physical forms of art practice – such as dance and drama, but also some forms of visual art  – were notable for the ways in which artists expected students to watch and then follow and copy their movements. When artists corrected students, it was often through touch and movement; this encouraged students to ‘feel’ the right way to do things, rather than have to translate a verbal instruction into an unfamilar physical act.

Artists often used gesture and movement as a means of general communication and they encouraged students to do the same. Sometimes this was in combination with speaking, and sometimes not. This opened up alternative channels for making meaning, and it was this movement-with-purpose which was important, not just movement for its own sake.

Video materials

A selection of videos from our Vimeo channel on use of the body can be viewed below.