PIMDI newsletter March 2022

The PIMDI-partnership – A pedagogy of imaginative dialogues

In september 2020 a consortium of five universities that offer MA programmes in arts education have started a so called Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership with the aims of developing and sharing innovative practices by cooperation, peer learning, and exchanges of experiences. The partnership was initiated by the Master’s programme at Hanze University in Groningen (NL) where dialogue and multi-voicedness are important core values. Together with partners from Finland, Norway and Iceland, teachers and students from Groningen wanted to explore “the paradox of democratization” by asking what role art education might play in a society that becomes more and more diverse and at the same time increasingly polarized.

Presentation of the partners

The four PIMDI-partners are:

  • The Master of Dance Pedagogy and the Master of Theatre Pedagogy at Uniarts in Helsinki, Finland.
  • The Master of Fine Arts at the University of Agder (UiA) in Kristiansand, Norway.
  • The interdisciplinary Master of Arts Education at the Iceland University of the Arts in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The joint Master of Education in Arts from the Hanze University of Groningen and the NHL Stenden University of Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Read more…

What can PIMDI  mean for arts education, what is the urgency?

Together with the whole European educational system, also art education has been strongly affected by the demand for unified, standardized formats where the “outputs” can be controlled through “quality assurance systems” (accountability, The Bologna model).

PIMDI 2021 Helsinki

This process of “democratization” was and is based on principles of equality among European citizens, but what about the growing differences and gaps that we experience? In the arts we practice education through all our senses and through our whole bodies. We notice differences that are apparently small and linked to our everyday life: how we move, what we eat, our relations to time and landscapes, how we use our senses creatively both in our perception of/with the world and in what we produce. By creating new perceptions for ourselves and our participants, artists are already educators, but how can we develop and use these embodied forms of knowing in educational practices? And how can we use them to explore differences and create dialogue among different groups in society who might be too polarized to speak with each other. Groups who actually know each other less and less, because we tend to live in separate worlds, both physically and psychologically? In PIMDI we experiment with the arts as a way of creating dialogues without trying to eliminate differences. Read More…

What is PIMDI? – A dialogue about the genesis of a project

Gudrun Beckmann from the Netherlands and Eeva Antilla from Finland shared their thoughts and reflections on the genesis of PIMDI in an interview with Ingimar Ólafsson Waage from Iceland and Tormod Anundsen from Norway that took place in Kristiansand in Norway on January 27th 2022. The following is a summary of these interviews.

It can be said that the idea behind the Pedagogy of IMaginative DIalogue (PIMDI) has been fermenting for at least twenty years – or even longer – as the notion of PIMDI is rooted and intertwined into the practices of experienced educators in art education. It all started with growing awareness of diversity and differences within the master’s programs in which Gudrun and Eeva were teaching in their respective universities in the Netherlands and Finland. These differences could be very nuanced and barely visible, while others were more overt. The nature of the differences became more and more evident when Gudrun and Eeva started probing through layers of social backgrounds, ethnicity, age, gender and so forth. The exposure of this diversity of differences revealed we should reach out and build bridges that could bring us closer to each other whilst maintaining the richness of diversity. The most effective option is developing a true dialogue with that objective in mind. When analysing the nature of genuine dialogue, as opposed to a monologue or political discussions disguised as dialogue, there seem to be two spheres or dimensions that are pertinent for our analysis here. Read more…

The PIMDI-activities

The aim of the PIMDI- partnership is to develop and explore a pedagogy of imaginative dialogue for all fields in arts education.

In order to fulfill this aim, we planned four intensive weeks with the students and the teachers to carry out imaginative dialogues in different contexts: In Helsinki we worked with elderly people. In April we will go to Kristiansand to collaborate with the local art museum and cultural school to experiment with imaginative dialogues with children and youngsters. In September we will work together with a secondary school and a library of a multicultural district in Reykjavik. Finally, we will collaborate with different arts educational fields in Groningen to address urgent questions by using the pedagogy of imaginative dialogues. Our activities will result in the development of a method, a curriculum, a practical toolbox, reflective documentation and some academic papers, by trying -out, reflecting and redesigning imaginative dialogues during the intensive weeks. Read more…

The first physical encounter: Intensive week in Helsinki, October 2021

The blogpost of Uniarts.

After the fall break TAO, that is, the Master’s Programme in Dance Pedagogy hosted international guests from Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands. A group of thirty students and 11 teachers worked together for the entire week, through November 25-29.

At the heart of the intensive week was encountering vulnerability, difference, and otherness. As the project leader, Gudrun Beckman, explained: “Often, when meeting new people, we try immediately to figure out common ground. Here, the focus is on trying to suspend this urge and to stay a bit longer in not-knowing, in the field of difference. In this, the notion of dialogue is central. How can I stay true to myself and respect you being different from me? Valuing our differences is the way to find the common ground between us.”

The process began by reflecting our own experiences on vulnerability and contexts of care. Then the students worked in small, mixed groups, and started to create a “present/ation” to share, or present, at a senior center. The aim was also to be present for the other – in this case, senior citizens – in a respectful, sensitive, caring and dialogical manner. Continue reading the blogpost…

Pauliina Laukkanen and Elli Isokoski, through their 20 years of experience as the Tempest Group (Myrskyryhmä) supported the students throughout the week in these fragile encounters with each other and the senior citizens.

One of the so-called ‘intellectual outputs’ of PIMDI focuses on developing artistic, embodied methods of reflection and documentation. In this, choreographer, activist Riikka Theresa Innanen’s support was of key importance as she shared her extensive experience on video documentation with the participants. The aim in this is to simultaneously illuminate the work from several viewpoints, creating a ‘parallax’ instead of a single perspective. Through this kind of documentation, the participants’ reflective process can be enriched as they can witness the process from multiple viewpoints.

What comes next? Intensive week in Kristiansand

April 25 to 29, 2022: Intensive study week in Kristiansand, Norway, hosted by UiA in collaboration with Sørlandets Kunstmuseum-SKMU and KNUDEN cultural school of Kristiansand.

Norwegian pupils visiting SKMU. Photo Jacob Buchard
Pupils making a collective drawing at KNUDEN – Kristiansand School of Visual and Performing Arts. Photo Lene Dalgård.

In preparing and carrying out the Intensive study week the University of Agder, Faculty of Fine Arts, collaborates with two local cultural institutions: Sørlandets Kunstmuseum-SKMU https://www.skmu.no/en/ and KNUDEN – Kristiansand School of Visual and Performing Arts https://www.knuden.no/english. More concretely the PIMDI Master students and their teachers will work together with members of the pedagogical staff from SKMU and KNUDEN in order to create small workshops in the museum, which will then be carried out with visiting pupils from KNUDEN. In this way the Master students will be able to experiment with imaginative dialogues together with children while relating to art works in the exhibitions and to the museum as educational environment. The Master students will thus be able to explore and develop the Pedagogy of Imaginative Dialogues in new directions inspired by contemporary visual art and by cultural institutions.

How will PIMDI communicate about its activities and findings?

Innovative methods of reflection and documentation

This output focuses on developing artistic, embodied methods of reflection and documentation. The aim is to present and crystallize main insights from reflective work that has been facilitated throughout the project. At the same time, we will collect and develop further methods that the partners, in their respective programs, have used previously. Especially, we will utilize and further develop multimodal methods for reflecting on artistic and pedagogical practices. The methods will draw, e.g., from critical reflection, reflective practice, embodied reflection, pedagogical documentation and visual ethnography. The aim is to support transformative learning in the arts through arts-based reflection and documentation methods, including text-based work (journaling, blogs, poems, etc), visual methods (drawing, painting, photographs, etc.), embodied practices (movement/dance, performance), installations (including images, objects, sound, music, text). Here, it is important that reflective work will take place in a dialogical and democratic manner so that each participant’s voice becomes heard. This approach is at the heart of PIMDI and democratic, social/public practice. Moreover, it will allow a multiple process of affecting-being affected, not only through conceptual, but also through imaginative artistic, multisensory means.  Read more…

The development of a digital PIMDI-toolkit?

The PIMDI website has been launched and will continue to grow with the results of the project and the ongoing dialogue of the partners throughout the project. Have a look at the website here: https://pimdi.lhi.is/ Looking back on the project in Helsinki in Finland, which focused on working with senior citizens in nursing homes for people with age-related disabilities. We had many heart-warming experiences: The simple act of placing a chestnut into a palm of an older man in a nursing home in Helsinki has brought an unexpected experience for the visiting master students. Partners of PIMDI look very close into this tactile and sensual experience that has brought a burst of joy for the older man without any explicit explanation. His laughter created a strange and powerful moment for our students. PIMDI asks how and when it is possible to use this potential of connection despite our differences? What kind of practice can help us rediscover and reencounter our environment and its people?

Students preparing their ‘present’ for the elderly. Photo Carry Rosenblatt

The digital toolkit is a space that connects the development of a PIMDI-curriculum and PIMDI-methodology, which the partners of PIMDI are constantly discussing and developing over time. Experiences compiled through the intensive weeks are shaping the contents of the digital toolkit. In the toolkit, you will be able to find practical methods, tools and exercises and modify them to your teaching and learning environment.

Example of a PIMDI-experience

Imaginative dialogues in Helsinki and Amsterdam. A master’s student tells how her experiences of drawing together inspired her own arts educational practice

During the PIMDI week in Helsinki, my group talked a lot about having a workshop as equals with the participants in the elderly home. We didn’t want to treat the residents as people that should be happy to receive something from us, but rather we wanted all of us to blend in and participate. Through the shared experience, we could both learn from each other. 

Our idea was to make a drawing together. The first step was to make yourself present by tracing your hand. The second step was to draw the hand or other body parts of your neighbor to make contact. The third step was to give your neighbor or someone else a present by drawing something for that person. The last step was to make connections between all of the participants. Even though we had some challenges – only one of the initiators in our group spoke Finnish and it physically, it was more challenging than we expected – was a really nice warm experience.  

At home in Amsterdam…. Read more…

Example of a PIMDI-exercise

Introduced by Gudrun Beckmann during the intensive week in Helsinki

BEFORE / AFTER: imagining statues.

In Short:

It is a short exercise to elaborate on different perspectives of a theme in an embodied way. There are numerous variations and follow-ups for this exercise possible. 

People & Place

Timeframe: Approximately one hour, can vary depending on the group size and activities before and after.

Participants: Three participants.


  • Think of two versions of yourself: as a youngster and a senior. Think of a value or characteristic that was important for you as a youngster that might be conflicting or somehow very much changed from the expected value/characteristics of yourself as a senior.   
  • Write these two words (values or characteristics) down.  
  • Share your words/values with your fellows. Feel free to rephrase the words/values after the discussion. 
  • Form a group of three. In taking turns, one participant plays the role of a sculptor who arranges the postures of the other two into a “statue” or “sculpture” representing the
  • two words/values the participant thought of. Don’t say the words, don’t speak; express yourself only with your body movements. Be precise.
  • What is the distance between the two “statues”? What is the gesture? What is the expression?  
  • When the “sculpture” is ready, ask the participants to notice what feeling the posture expresses. Then let them look at each other. 
  • At last, ask the “statues” to make some movements they want to make – ask them to change from being still towards moving, in reaction to each other. 
  • In each group, these instructions are carried out three times. There are no spectators.  
  • In the end, the groups can share their experiences and maybe choose one pair of “statues” to elaborate on with the bigger group.
  • When each group is ready, you can ask volunteers to demonstrate their “sculptures” and movements and share their values and experience. 

Read more…






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