6714 – REDAKZIA@GIFF
MARIA DRAGHICI & CORINA OPREA
24 JAN – 3 FEB
6714 – REDAKZIA@GIFF
MARIA DRAGHICI & CORINA OPREA
24 JAN – 3 FEB
In collaboration with GIFF, Skogen has invited REDAKZIA (Bucharest-based artist Maria Draghici and Stockholm-based curator Corina Oprea) to continue their video mapping of social realities of today. This time, they are working on the production of a an art documentary – 6714- using a method of processual art, a hybrid of an open editorial and film production conducted publicly in the festival environment. The work starts during Gothenburg International Film Festival, through an ongoing process of making and editing the footage, the Videozine becoming a collage of images from the original film (”Jag är nyfiken”), gathered, collated, associated with 2014 Gothenburg´s realities envisioned in pictures and interviews.
Läs mer om vad Redakzia gjorde under sitt block på Skogen under 2012 här.
DE/RE composing “I am curious – A film in yellow”
– An Old 1967 and a New 2014 Testament of Swedish Socialism.
In 1967 the film “I am curious – a film in yellow” directed by Vilgot Sjöman started both a scandal due to its nudity and sex scenes and also great criticism from the left for turning politics into pornography and struggle into commercialism. Cut the porn and act on! takes the material from the movie, cuts out what made a scandal in 67’ and works on the issues and questions brought up, which were probably even a bigger tabu: class society, income gap, solidarity, duplicity of social democrats.
I’ve heard this is a revolutionary student organization.
But if you organize the revolution like this meeting, can it succeed?”
– quote from “I am curious – a film in yellow” 1967
We ask further what would be tabu in 2014? – migration, nationalism, racism, segregation? De-composing politics, socialism, resistance, film techniques, we will approach the film from two perspectives: enact your own protest poster and re-write your own personal political history 1967-2014. With the film as a reference, we’ll be stepping back into history and transferring it to the present.
“I must tell Lena about the fate of Swedish Socialism. NO! About the two heads of Swedish Socialism: the big, self-satisfied one, and the little, shrunken one.”
– quote from “I am curious – a film in yellow” 1967
Together we will create the premises for a film without a script – 6714. The study group is under the Sunshine Socialist Cinema, as part of the process-based filmed project REDAKZIA@GIFF. The evening will be filmed as part of 6714 – an old (1967) and a new (2014) testament of Swedish Socialism. Facilitators: REDAKZIA (Maria Draghici and Corina Oprea)
REDAKZIA is a platform of alternative models of arts in education and methods of knowledge circulation, taking shape through a series of workshops, symposiums, visual displays, constructing an on going toolkit of strategies and methods on politics of destabilization through collective knowledge.
REDAKZIA is initiated by Corina Oprea – curator and researcher based in Stockholm and Maria Draghici – video artist and PhD Candidate based in Bucharest.
Co-produced by Skogen and EDIT ProjectRoom, with support of GIFF, Municipality of Gothenburg and Romanian Cultural Institute.
The school as “microtopia”: Do we produce politics? Or do we give up?
Text by Corina Oprea, documentation and images by Corina Oprea and Maria Draghici
“ Is school a place, an institution, a situation, a circumstance, an attitude, or a constellation of relationships of the transfer of acquired, invented and accumulated knowledge?” (Raqs Media Collective – from the essay How to be an artist at night, in the compendium Art School – Propositions for the 21st Century, edited by Steven Madoff, MIT Press 2009)
For the past decade we are witnessing a School Crisis, where the education philosophy follows the neoliberal market structure with two separate groups: market owners and market customers. Simultaneously artists, philosophers and activists started working with social practice and building up alternatives to the failing school system. Artist-run schools or temporary experiments move the social practice out of the theatre or gallery venues and try to influence the educational system to return to its social and critical meaning.
In the quest of finding the meaning of the school format today, Redakzia (Corina Oprea and Maria Draghici) created for two weeks in November a temporary structure at Skogen, where we have invited individuals and initiatives from both systemic and anti-systemic education to question the role and premises of education today, focused on the academia, in humanistic and looking at so called alternative formats (e.g. Free universities or temporary academies). The format of an editorial board included the idea of a collective editorial process, where the research material, the writing and the editing is done on-going, extended with all the encounters we make, receiving impulses, looking for references, transforming us in a sort of filter and interpreters. In the same time, all contribute and shape Redakzia itself as a platform for knowledge circulation, and thus they become part of its collective. In Gothenburg we worked through several channels: informal meetings, video interviews, a workshop on shaping temporary social structures, a symposium on modes of resistance in education and a collective editing of the final map-zine Circular Grounds #1.
The scope was to question the transformation of the academia towards a factory of market-oriented skills in opposition to knowledge, which is produced through debate and not through learning, through questioning and not through acceptance of the general norm.
The relation between power and knowledge, in the Foucault-ian understanding, is a question of hegemony, which nowadays translates in the capitalization and institutionalization of knowledge. What we are interested in is breaking this hegemony and acknowledge other platforms of education and knowledge production, which may take the form of a university or a grass-root movement with a pedagogical consciousness.
In Gothenburg we looked at different educational initiatives, which happened in present or in the past. We wanted to start with Gothenburg and the Swedish context, where the debate on education is an important issue, being at risk of loosing its free status. In order to achieve a historical perspective, we went back to Experiment gymansiet: an experiment in the late 60’s – beginning of the 70’s – a high school run by students and professors equally. There was a lot of the social aspect that was happening in the school: the school was open till 22h, the students could draw even on the ceiling, they could smoke in the classroom, take part of the decisions equally in terms of employing professors, there were no professors, rather a guide. The curriculum was based on research and not on learning physics, mathematics and so on, but rather if interested in poverty in Africa for example, because of this research interest, they would of course learn of economy, social studies, geography, history. There was an interdisciplinary perspective. It was interesting to discover that Gothenburg has a heritage of working with a format of the school as a social space, as a debate, as a discussion and not a place where you learn a skill for certain number of years.
The process of looking for a collective editorial material took us to a method of so called “sensitive map”. By starting from several individuals or initiatives which we already knew and wanted to interview, we asked them to act as our local guides and to put us in contact with other initiatives from Gothenburg that they were considering important for our process, individuals who are working either directly with education, but also activists, entities or movements who have a pedagogical vision incorporated in their actions. In this way we managed to add on a map of Gothenburg, linking the Art Academy to a music nomadic group, the free autonomous newspaper to Ship to Gaza, the research group Resistance studies to a group of guerrilla gardeners and the underground university to a youth movement of safe guarding the suburbs and the Queer Institute.
These “sensitive connections”, which often remain in the outskirts of the academia or the artistic research due to strict disciplinary interests, became the collective aspect of the process. The time in Gothenburg became a pretext – the event – created for the analysis of both differences and commonalities of these experiences.
One of the questions we raised was the condition for politics of destabilization as a form of resistance, meaning finding those gaps in the system where you can intervene, shake and challenge a fixed structure, a rigid concept. Education has become a production machine of knowledge based on the requirement to respond to the market and its economic rules, like an industry for specialized skills. Knowledge, on the other hand, is part of a social project, which is produced through circulation of information, reflection, feed-backing culture, and critical thought. Knowledge is a collective product, formed by the specificities of different angles and modes of address: radical, academic, in deep analysis and fieldwork. This is why it is essential to create such temporary labs in which each consciousness /knowledge matters and interacts with the others. The way we worked was through deconstructing the writing and the editing process, thinking of the publication as a social platform, enabling encounters and discussions along the way.
In a school setting there must be a connection between working, living, research and experimentation. The problem with traditional education is the hierarchy in the transfer of knowledge from the ”teacher” to the ”student”, especially in the art education where the role of the ”master” is perpetuated. This type of structure takes away the responsibility of the student transforming him/her in a passive political subject. Between 1968-1975 a group of students received the support from the municipality to start what was called Experiment Gymansiet (Experimental Highschool). As Torgny Sjöstedt (one of the initiators and students) says: “Nowadays in school it’s all about getting grades and be good in math as they are in Singapore. But when you go to school, you learn to be a part of the society and planting a garden, for example, is part of that. It goes back to somebody like john Dewey in the states, School in Chicago-learning by doing.
Socializing is a big social question, everything is privatized today and many things you don’t own socially like we have done before, many schools are private, owned by investors who live abroad.
The year we started Experiment Gymnasiet we have rebelled and occupied the classroom. We said: this is our classroom, we are part of society, this is ours as well as the school board so we should get to decide what we should do. That question is not relevant if you’re in a private school. “ The curriculum of the high-school was research-driven and encouraged the connection between learning material, everyday life and political awareness by questioning students’ learning skills in relation to their environment and to the world’s issues. Social activities, debate, organizational meetings were part of the course of study. The experiment was closed down only after few years and it remain unknown in the current discourse on the topic of education, but it does deserve a closer look.
It is interesting that Gothenburg has this heritage working with the format of the school as a social space, as a debate, as a discussion and not a place where you learn a skill for certain number of years and then you go … it’s interesting why with all this heritage which is so specific to this place, why try to fight against and renegade it somehow and refuse it. The Art Academy Valand is in a period of restructuring, which has been described as violent, ignoring the history of the school as a place for various social spheres crossing inside. Today, the sense of isolation and emptiness fills the corridors. “If I were to be the director here, I would be saying first of all, the studios are live-work, however it would have to be instrumentalized legally, embrace our history, do a book about it, talk to people, document it, record that history and build on it.” – Laura Hatfield, coordinator Rotor Gallery, Valand Art Academy.
MAJA HAMMAREN – artist and lecturer at Valand Art Academy
I brought two books.; one is Edouard Glissant- one of the post-colonial thinkers, he is from Martinique. This is his book: Philosophy of relations. In this book he talks about some fantastic things, he talks about creolization, about difference, the archipelago, which is something completely different than the continent, about differences, hopefulness. It helps me to think if I am asked about the University today.
The University now, in Sweden changed from process-based education to learning outcomes goals, every course has specific learning outcomes.
In this global University working with formalizing, with a naming the actual learning goals, outcomes of each course, it’s very hard to work with tacit knowledge, the knowledge in the body, the knowledge that comes through doing, which was earlier called know-how and sometimes experience based knowledge. The modern University works with individuals and individuality, it is about your individual learning outcomes, it’s about your individual path through this education, whether I would like to work with collective research, collective understanding process.
I discuss with students in the University who feel very much left alone. Instead of talking: what is this organization, what is this structure doing to us? This structure does not give collective experience; you have to formalize these collective things as beer drinking after school, these social events become separate from what you are actually doing, instead of actually building the education around.
Glissant talks about ”les différences”- in plural, it’s nice. This University works with similarity, it’s about standardization and this is what Bologna system does. How can we make sure the people can transfer easily? The whole ground of the EU is the free movement of labour and goods and exchangeability. Of course there are good things with this as well. I don’t want to value as much, I want to draw this figure.
Then we have things being mixed, “blandade”, versus things being keep separated. In the University now everything is separated, since you need formalization to standardize things, you need to formalize everything. This is what it takes to be able to offer education which you can exchange in another country- you need to formalize and also to make this great effect of working together with different institutions, so you can offer students the same courses and offer same length etc.
There is another thing, which is important and these are the working conditions. Precarious workers of the University, a very popular word, but this hinders you in formulating critique, it’s not easy to criticise if you all the time have a new contract that needs to be negotiated, re-negotiated.
When the University shifted and the students became consumers, the buyers of education, than I think the shift took away some of the parts of the responsibility, where is this consumer joining in and trying to reformulate this organization that they are buying from. They are not, because it is not theirs. They are just consumers, they attend. You have to shift this perception to empower students; the students might think they cannot do anything.
Are alternative school also a critique of the institution? What problems are alternative schools attempting to bring up and eventually solve? We went to discuss with Alexander Motturi from Clandestino Institute, which is callling itself on the website ”the underground university”. According to him, “Clandestino has always been an experiment, it has never claim to be an institution, but more like a thought experiment, like a concept, not so much a regular praxis. Because we simply didn’t have the resources to uphold it as such and also we worked I think, with the concept more. And that gives you also a certain kind of freedom when it comes to your own development, because if you have a manifesto or a program, you’re stuck to it and in stead of having an experiment, you’re still in the process of developing the forms of knowledge production. In that sense, I would say that Clandestino Institute has always been an experiment for knowledge production and artistic practices.” However, Clandestino Instute does not see itself opposing the academia, rather a complement, claiming the existence of knowledge and resources within the academia, but opposing the violence of the knowledge production within that system.
This binary concept of being within and outside can prove to be quite effective, though questioning its liability when it comes to the critical power. The group “Resistance studies” at the Sociology Department of Gothenburg University was an intriguing situation where activist practices, most of times even going against the general Swedish or European politics, were at the core of research and members of the group continued their activist practices in parallel with their teaching and researching practice. Can a resisting activity be pursued within a controlling system such as academia without being appropriated and thus made uneffective? As Stellan Vinthagen explains, “I’m quite optimistic about the creative nature of resistance, which doesn’t allow to be appropriated. But we have to realize that the powers of existing order, of many interests, all these kind of these forces they are doing a lot of studies, they systematically trying to control, manipulate, organize and appropriate resistance for their interests. (…)There is a need for resistance inside the University. We have the marketization of the University and the whole production of the people to gain knowledge appropriate for the market. Many problems, but we have opted for creating the space that we think is part of what the University should be like and to study and learn from what kind of resistance is being done which could also be at University, we could study what kind of resistance is done by students and teachers. But we have opted not to become like a trade union fighting for changing University, it’s not University politics that is our priority, our priority is rather things like the situation in Ghaza, situation with weapon trades – Sweden being one the biggest exporters in the world.
An implicit resistance is not allowing the University to be that conformative place that it’s generally made in to and in danger of becoming even more. I think it makes sense to use the extremely interesting privilege of actually having your time devoting to understand something in society. That’s one of the strong points of liberal democracy that’s encouraging the understanding of that society and I don’t see why we should not use that. A part of my understanding of resistance is maybe not to be totally opposed but to exist in the borderland. It’s when I’m associate professor of Gothenburg University arrested by the Israeli commando soldiers and brought to prison, (as a member of Ship to Gaza) that’s a part of what makes that a challenge, I think. And I like also that the students are not used to their teachers doing that kind of things and still I do it. I like that kind of challenge. “
How to practice resistance? To go against the system, to try to change it, to go alone, or form alliances? Would your practice be affected or would resistance become your academic practice? We have asked Håkan Thörn, Professor at the Sociology Department, Gothenburg University. “Can I, and do I make resistance? There are two ways: one is more organized and articulated that you go against and you try to criticize and organize, the other way is to kind of prefigurative resistance, so you just don’t comply with the rules and find the pockets, just pretending that you’re doing everything you’re supposed to, but you’re actually finding your space to doing it. Both things are necessary, but I have chosen the latter one. Because I feel that if I’m going into an open struggle with my colleagues it will consume a lot of energy, that is everything than that I can do. Now I’ve decided to maybe keep a bit lower profile and try to put my energy into other struggles that I think are more important at moment at least.” It appears that politics is a matter of personal strategy and analysis of a complex and interrelated need for constant reflection, which the university provides, and which is necessary even in the midst of a revolt.
Several initiatives fighting for the rights of specific communities such as Pantrarna (The Panthers) – the group for the restoration of the suburbs and Queer Institute-Gothenburg share similar preoccupations of the possibilities of self-organization. They are eager to start platforms for knowledge production and distribution which are self-determined, flexible and cheap or free to attend, what Gregory Sholette calls ‘mockstitutions’ and ‘phantom establishments’. (Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture, Gregory Sholette, Pluto Press, 2010)
What all these initiaves, including REDAKZIA, tried and continues to strive for is a space for learning for its own sake, for the development of critical thought and for the articulation and circulation of new concepts, languages and political possibilities.
Maria Draghici är konstnär och aktivist baserad i Bukarest, Rumänien. Hon har där initierat flera lokala community-projekt som utgått från det konstnärliga samarbetet kring det kollektivt drivna kulturcentret laBOMBA i Rahova-Uranus. Under 2011 var Maria i Göteborg, och undersökte bland annat den kurdiska community som byggt upp kolonilotterna vid Komettorget i Bergsjön. Projektet resulterade i en film som presenterats i flera olika sammanhang i Göteborg. Hennes pågående projekt, Dialogue Table, utvecklades under fem år av konstnärligt community-arbete, och har kommit att bli ett verktyg för många rumänska konstnärer som arbetar inom ramarna för community-konst, aktivt medborgarskap eller andra konstnärliga praktiker som söker överskridanden av det individuella mot det kollektiva.
Corina Oprea är frilansande curator och doktorand vid konstnärliga fakulteten vid Universitetet i Loughborough, Storbritannien. I sin praktik fokuserar hon på frågor om sociala och politiska sammanhang, och den offentliga sfärens olika diskursiva och performativiva praktiker. Från hennes senaste arbeten kan nämnas Tillfällig Status – en bok och en utställning om politisk fantasi (Röda Sten 2012) samt utställningen Washed Out, producerad genom Apexart Franchise på Konsthall C, Stockholm under februari 2011.