Learning to mentor by Mattia Paganelli

In the process of becoming an academic researcher, one learns in unexpected ways; teaching has been one, mentoring at first seemed no different. Yet, I was quickly proved wrong. The dialogue with a prospective PhD researcher is an entirely different experience, miles away from the inevitable limitations of the lecturing format at BA level I already knew. It is a curiosity platform, where questions are exchanged and one offers his experience in tackling them. It requires creativity in reorganizing one’s experience beyond the structure of a specific subject of study, in order to understand to someone else’ work.

Thus mentoring has become an opportunity to explore the tutoring role in a broader and more rewarding way. This offers great help in the specific case of art school, where developing studio tutoring skills requires more than simply passing information, and one must learn to be flexible in order to respond to different sensibilities and different practices.

In the conversations we have, I find I am sharing the excitement for having a study project that is entirely my own. The experiences collected in making art in a globalized technological world and the knowledge gained studying merge in this dialogue, becoming valuable references when discussing why and how undertaking postgraduate research; not to mention the more delicate task of advising how to embark in the PhD adventure with the right mixture of foolishness and determination.

Mattia Paganelli is a PhD student at the Centre for Fine Art Research, BIAD whose research examines the relation between aesthetics and epistemology in contemporary art practice.

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