Sabatini Building
st floor, room 103
Museo Nacional
Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Sabatini Building
Santa Isabel, 52
Nouvel Building
Ronda de Atocha
(with plaza del
Emperador Carlos V)
28012 Madrid
Tel. (34) 91 774 10 00
Opening hours
Monday to Saturday
and bank holidays
from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
from 10:00 a.m. to 2:15 p.m
complete Museum visit,
from 2:15 to 7:00 p.m.
visit to Colection 1 and
a temporary exhibition
(check Website)
Closed on Tuesdays
Visitors are kindly asked
to clear the galleries
15 minutes before closing.
The exhibition develops through a number of recurring themes
evolving around the relationship between the artist and social
change, the dialectic embedded in images and the visual realm that
can generate political action, and the tension between the
perceived need for the active involvement of art and the insistence
on its right to be “useless”.
The notion of “really useful knowledge” originated in workers’
awareness of the need for self-education in the early 19th century.
In the 1820s and 1830s, workers’ organizations in the United
Kingdom introduced this concept to describe a body of knowledge
that encompassed various ‘unpractical’ disciplines such as politics,
economics and philosophy, as opposed to “useful knowledge”
proclaimed as such by the business owners, who some time earlier
had increasingly begun to invest in the advancement of their
businesses by funding the education of workers in ‘applicable’ skills
and disciplines such as engineering, physics, chemistry or
mathematics. Whereas the concept of “useful knowledge” operates
as a tool of social reproduction and a guardian of the status quo,
“really useful knowledge” demands changes by understanding the
causes of exploitation and tracing back its origins within ruling
ideology. It is a collective, emancipatory, theoretical, emotional,
informative and practical quest that starts from acknowledging
what we do not yet know.
While looking back to the class struggles of capitalism’s early years,
the title of the exhibition suggests inquiry into “really useful
knowledge” from a contemporary perspective. The exhibition is
set against the backdrop of an ongoing crisis of capitalism, and of
revolts and attempts to oppose it on the structural level, and it
starts from two crucial notions - materialist education and critical
pedagogy. To address new social inequalities and conflicts
triggered by attempts to limit the distribution of and access to
knowledge, Really Useful Knowledge reiterates the necessity of
producing sociability through the collective utilization of existing
public resources, actions, and experiments, either by developing
new forms of sharing or by fighting to maintain the old ones, now
under threat of eradication. The exhibition looks into the desires,
impulses and dilemmas of artistic engagement in historical and
current progressive political practices, and the ways these are
embodied in education.
NIPO: 036-14-003-0 Legal deposit: M-29455-2014
With the support of the
Culture Programme of the European Union:
Exhibition organized by Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía within the framework of
“The Uses of Art,” a project by the European museum network L’Internationale
Un saber realmente útil, inglés_Elly Strik 23/10/14 12:43 Página 2

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