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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  May 2010

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING May 2010

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Subject:

Art & Activism

From:

Maria Chatzichristodoulou <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Maria Chatzichristodoulou <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 9 May 2010 14:46:38 +0100

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Dear All,

Thanks to Verina for inviting me to take part in this discussion. While reading the interesting contributions of other participants, I am getting slightly confused as to what it is we are talking about -as it seems that we're talking about a great deal of issues. 

I think I'll start with a response to the last two messages, about the closure of Middlesex University's world leading Philosophy department, and the creative occupation of Mansion House by students. Verina asks why it is that alternative educational experiences are linked to activism and art, and whether this is necessary. At this month's thematic positioning she also asks whether out understanding of former models of 'alternative' schools (e.g. Black Mountain) might be hopelessly romantic. 

I am at this point in time very saddened by the events taking place in Greece as I am half Greek myself, and I grew up in Athens. The situation in Greece is very complex and I won't pretend to be able to unpack the reasons that have led the country to its current desolate state. A few things are clear though -Greece joined the EU due to geopolitical interests not only of Greece but, and primarily, of the EU itself; Greece wasn't either financially ready or politically mature enough to join the EU at the time, and its cultural identity that merges European and Asian traditions and values was, and still is, suppressed. 

The interesting thing, when it comes to our discussion about Education, is how central activism was in my education in Greece. I did my BA at the University of Patras. Whereas some aspects of the School were weak compared to good Universities elsewhere and in the UK, what I found at the time fascinating about how education functioned was the obvious inability -or, possibly, indifference- of the educational system to control every aspect of its delivery. As a result, artists who were hired to teach us on short term contracts (and did not thus fully belong within the academic body), were able to introduce any number of unconventional modes of delivery -we'd rehearse, discuss, experiment for days on end, sometimes for 24 hours non-stop with no sleep; we'd take our work outside of the institution, in students' houses, the beach, open spaces, the city; we'd work with immigrants and transitory populations (when there was no funding or recognition for doing so), etc. 

At my teaching practice in the UK, on the other hand, I am very closely controlled. I have to produce module specifications for every module I teach in order for them to be approved. I then have to produce module handbooks which tell students and the institution exactly what I'll be delivering, when, where, why and how. To an extent this is positive, as it (hopefully?) ensures quality. On another level though this is about Weber's account of the bureaucratic, rationalized society that Dave referred to in his post, attempting (in an obsessive manner) to control every aspect of its delivery of health care, education, and everything that Charlotte described, referring to the current issue of Mute, as 'public good'. While our society is looking at education as business (as a result my students are 'cool customers' who demand good value 'knowledge' for their pound), it also looks at business and banking as 'public good' and decides to heavily subsidise this sector, while cutting Higher Education funds. 

From my experience of studying and teaching in the UK, I have found very little alternative educational initiatives that do not relate to either art, or activism, or both. For a number of years I was involved with activist art project Deptford.TV www.deptford.tv. Deptford.TV was initiated by Adnan Hadzi as part of his practice-led PhD at Goldsmiths: its main premise is undertaking research into collaborative film making practices, and producing software that can support collaborative post-production. The basis of this initiative is Deptford, one of the most multicultural and underprivileged areas in the whole of the UK. The project tried to bring together people living, working and studying in Deptford, Southeast London, to collectively document the area and the changes this was undergoing due to the planned regeneration process. It attempted to build networks amongst the local community that could empower local citizens, activists and artists to speak up about the potential gentrification of the area. It also brought artists, media activists and, occasionally, hackers from around Europe who were happy to support this process by developing community software and teaching people how to use it for their own purposes.

I think that projects like this, that take education outside the academe and into the community for specific purposes, are far from being 'helplessly romantic'. Idealism does not, in my eyes, entail helpless romanticism. Yes, such projects depend upon the personality, enthusiasm and driving force of certain people and are often short lived. Their short life might be because they die away, or because they become institutionalised as a result of their grass roots success (which entails death..). But, in other cases, such project might just disperse within the communities involved and fertilise some, little, change. That is good enough for me. 

Thank you for now,

Best wishes
Maria X

--
Maria Chatzichristodoulou [aka Maria X]
Lecturer in Theatre and Performance - School of Arts and New Media - The University of Hull @ Scarborough - Filey Road, Scarborough - YO11 3AZ




-----Original Message-----
From: Curating digital art - www.crumbweb.org on behalf of NEW-MEDIA-CURATING automatic digest system
Sent: Sun 5/9/2010 12:01 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: NEW-MEDIA-CURATING Digest - 7 May 2010 to 8 May 2010 (#2010-74)
 
LISTSERV mailing list manager <http://www.lsoft.com> 	 LISTSERV 16.0 <http://jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?LIST=NEW-MEDIA-CURATING> 	  	 


NEW-MEDIA-CURATING Digest - 7 May 2010 to 8 May 2010 (#2010-74)


Table of contents:


*	Middlesex Philosophy Dept takes it to a new level... (2) 

	1.	Middlesex Philosophy Dept takes it to a new level...

	*	Middlesex Philosophy Dept takes it to a new level... (05/08)
		From: Charlotte Frost <[log in to unmask]> 
	*	Re: Middlesex Philosophy Dept takes it to a new level... (05/08)
		From: Verina Gfader <[log in to unmask]>

	

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