Tim Rollins & K.O.S.
USA, 1955
In 1981 Tim Rollins began to teach art classes in public schools in the city of New York. Most of his pupils were categorised as "problem children" and were declared "incapable of learning". Outside the official educational system, he founded Kids of Survival and the Art and Knowledge Workshop, designed for those pupils outside school hours. At the same time he offered an educational alternative to the residents of the South Bronx. The students he attracted were mostly Hispanic in origin. The social conditions deriving from the urban context they lived in and the specific educational needs of the group converged in the Tim Rollins and K.O.S. educational experiment. Through the practice of art, Rollins has enabled the members of the workshop to try out alternative forms in order to acquire general knowledge. That was how reading classic works of literature generated a spontaneous academic programme, which provided an opportunity to discuss and interpret the texts. The works chosen for study over the decades reveal thematic constants such as the struggle for recognition, the representation of the real power of disadvantaged social classes and the desire to shake off condescending representations. Those experiments are condensed in large format paintings covered with pages from books. Dialogue and conversations between different members, as well as the scattered text, become a support for emblematic images that are repeated throughout each series. The paintings by Tim Rollins and K.O.S. have challenged their status as educational objects by gaining access to the art market and the big modern art museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York or the Tate Gallery in London.
Carlos Guerra