Åbäke establishes year-long School of Fugu to explore radical new way of learning
London-based graphics studio Åbäke has used a poisonous fish as the starting point for an educational journey, and is showcasing the results at the Istanbul Design Biennial.
Åbäke created the School of Fugu to explore an alternative method of teaching – it proposes using one specific item as a starting point to learn about many different disciplines.
For the exhibition in Istanbul, the studio is spending a year looking at the Fugu, a poisonous Japanese fish, to explore topics ranging from global warming to art.
"It is a method of learning and teaching," explained Maki Suzuki, co-founder of Åbäke.
"We discover a whole world of knowledge emerges when we playfully trace one thing across the ends of the earth."
Just two people are enrolled on the first School of Fugu programme. "Luna my daughter and I are the first attendees to the school from which everything is yet to be discovered," said Suziki.
Suzuki choose to focus on the fugu as the beginning of the learning journey as he has a personal interest in the fish. But he discovered that Istanbul and the fugu were connected in several ways. The fish, which is a delicacy in Japan, was first found off the coast of Turkey in 2003.
Through studying the fugu, Suzuki and his daughter learned about global warming and the construction of the Suez Canal – because both made it possible the Fugu to migrate to the Mediterranean sea.
"Istanbul and Shimonoseki, the capital of fugu in Japan were twinned in the early 1970s," explains Suzuki. "It took 30 years of geopolitical architecture and global warming to make this link concrete when the fugu arrived in Antalya."
The exhibition is made up of numerous posters taken from the streets of London, which Suzuki and his daughter have painted to create informational posters on the Fugu.
These posters which, according to Suzuki, are meant to resemble those found in schools allowed his daughter to learn about vandalism, graffiti and graphics.
Alongside the posters is an actual fugu fish, which was brought from Japan to Turkey in the 19th century and placed in the collection of a Jesuit museum.
The exhibition also includes an informational video explaining the fugu and showing cooking techniques, as well as the jawbone of the fish and a painting of a fugu.
Through the School of Fugu Suzuki's daughter has learned about numerous different disciplines including how the fugu is cooked, global warming, painting, graphics, and vandalism.
Suzuki said the most interesting thing that his daughter has learnt is "that the fugu can open a can of coke" with its teeth.
The School of Fugu is part of the Currents School at the Istanbul Design Biennial, which features exhibitions set in six cultural institutions that aims to investigate new ways of learning.
The fourth edition of the biennial, which takes place from 22 September to 4 November 2018, is curated by Belgian curator and educator Jan Boelen, who recently stated that the use of recycled plastic in design is "bullshit".