The Germinal Archive

Joan of Art: Towards a Free Education, curated by Mike Watson, MACRO, Roma.
April 2013

There are books concerned with anarchic education in the Germinal Archive in Carrara, a town historically associated with anarchy.
Francisco Ferrer was one of the first to create an anarchic school, Escuela Moderna in Spain. Many of the great anarchic authors were influenced by him, believing that state and church  schools were designed to teach children to become obedient and submissive members of society, rather than encouraging them to question the status quo and develop their creativity.  Education should not restrict the freedom of children to develop intellectually.
Anarchists began to educate their children at home around Massa Carrara using anti-authoritarian, anti-coercive methods, free of influence from church and state. Two anarchic Summer camps, Colonia Maria Luisa Berneri and Colonia Lucetti, were set up to provide seaside holidays and anti authoritarian education for poor children. Many of the ideas that went into the creation of these summer camps are preserved within the Berneri Archive in the Reggio Emilia library as well as in the Germinal Archive.

For anarchists the concept of a horizontal platform, where no member of society is above or below any other is key. Everyone should be free to choose the form of education they want.

Pettena’s installation was about self education, the guiding principle of those authors concerned with education in the Germinal Archive.

The display cases were all on the ground, at the same level, to demonstrate that the transmission of knowledge should be provided equally to all. The geometric shapes of the cases allowed members of the public to construct different patterns according to each individual strategy and ways of understanding. The installation was also designed to focus attention on the Germinal Archive that no longer has a library in Carrara but is now housed in a small provisional library in a room in a school that has been shut down. There is a serious risk that this important collection could be forgotten or deteriorate.

© Robert Pettena 2022