“Art & Education,” a publishing platform from e-flux and Artforum, profiles ACT Assistant Professor Nida Sinnokrot in the November 2021 issue.
1. Why did you decide to go into teaching?
I decided to go into teaching when I realized that I was an artist; teaching and cultural production are inseparable for me. This may be because I’ve always been curious about how things work; I was that child who would always take things apart. Both my art and my teaching are precious opportunities to indulge in taking things apart and exploring various ways of putting them back together. The more voices that are engaged in that process of reassembly, the more interesting and wondrous the outcomes. In that sense, teaching is listening and learning. I’ve been lucky to find myself in a position where I can indulge my curiosity and engage in critical processes rather than product-oriented outcomes. My role models have always been my teachers—the thinkers and artists who helped me find my voice when I was a struggling young Palestinian immigrant in the US. They helped me to see the large historical and political forces that shaped much of my early life and to channel those forces in my artwork. I strive to honor them by passing on that tradition in my teaching.
2. What drew you to your school and what is your teaching philosophy?
The Program in Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) is an incarnation of MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS), founded half a century ago by Bauhaus artist and educator György Kepes, who believed that art was the key to building ecological consciousness. Today, ACT continues to engage with the ever-shifting infrastructural changes in art education and practice in relation to ecology, preservation, narratology, mythology, and other modes of sensing and sharing. Our aim is to challenge and reinvent existing forms of knowledge, work, exchange, and production at the intersection of art, culture, and technology.
But the most compelling draw for me is the courage of my colleagues, staff, and students in their dedication to making the world a better place. Our combined dedication to pedagogical strategies that reveal how power, knowledge, and discourse are inextricably woven together is what makes this place so exciting and cutting edge.