It is increasingly difficult to ascertain what lies outside the boundaries of contemporary art. In response to the constant redrawing of boundaries that is characteristic of the field, art academies are forever rearranging their own disciplinary parameters. The professional environment in which the art academy exists is not the academy’s ‘outside’; art academies lie firmly within the boundary formation of higher education while straddling the institutional formations of the artworld. Art education is more amorphous still: learning activities are hosted by all facets of the artworld. Since it forms common ground for the artworld’s variety of social groups, art education is ‘para’; it creates the possibility of dialogue and cooperation. What convergences and differences of perspective emerge when artists, artworkers and scholars self-consciously develop a suture, working to open access to the continuum of education-as-art-as-education-as-art? Para-academic prosumerism assembles the roles of producer–consumer as a form of disintermediation, narrowing the gap between learners and educators. This chapter outlines the genesis of the term ‘para-academic’, which is a symptom of, and a creative response to, the impact of the access economy on higher education. In the later sense, para-academia maps onto the D-I-T (do-it-together) sector of the artworld. Para-academia is parasitical upon, and convergent with, the academy, forming an addendum or paragon constitutive of academic practices. Para-academia, thus conceived, is a commoning counter-strategy to the enclosure of knowledge. It takes advantage of the exploitative access economy to arrive at its other: the sharing economy.
KeywordsPara-academia Dialogue Sharing economy
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