[NetBehaviour] [Fwd: The Public Commons and the Undercommons of Art, Education, and Labour]

aharon aha at aharonic.net
Sat Feb 22 09:42:47 CET 2014

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Subject: The Public Commons and the Undercommons of Art, Education, and
From:    "Performance Philosophy" <mail at performancephilosophy.ning.com>
Date:    Sat, February 22, 2014 08:24
To:      "aha at aharonic.net" <aha at aharonic.net>

The Public Commons and the Undercommons of Art, Education, and Labour

An International Conference hosted by the MA program Choreography and
Performance (Gießen)
May 29 till June 1 2014

Registration is for free but required (undercommons at gmail.com)
More infos at: http://tinyurl.com/nlsmzem

One of the global tendencies that describes the current situation of the
arts under the conditions of neoliberal capitalism is privatization and
financialization, in which both the arts and education lose the meaning
and the status of a public good. Using the pretext of austerity and
strategies of neoliberal policy, the state is dismantled in its public
sector, disowning the arts and education as common concerns. While, on the
one hand, it goes hand in hand with the transformation of labor in
post-Fordism, de-skilling and re-skilling which trains flexible subjects,
and, on the other hand, it reflects the temporality and affective modes of
project-based, intermittent and precarious work, this tendency plays out
as a merge between art and education, leaning on art as research, or art
as practice, to name a few concepts in recent debate.

The past few years have witnessed a paradox in the development of higher
education in the arts and university. On the one side, MA and doctoral
programs in the arts are proliferating, thus registering an increased
influx of artists into the academy. “Creative-art” and
“practice-based” doctorates offer institutional support to artistic
research, in other words, a refuge for many young artists who are
struggling in precarious conditions of freelance production. To continue
one’s studies by going back to school doesn’t just present a temporary
relief from the art market, it responds to a relentless feeling of various
kinds of structural lack: of knowledge, an incurable “unlearnedless”
that artists express in the wake of knowledge economy; of consistency in
work, which is compensated or covered by conflating one’s art with a
project of lifelong learning and subject-formation; of public space that
can be hijacked into a platform of artistic, theoretical, social or
political gathering and activity; of time that is punctuated and
fragmentarized by projects, nomadic lifestyle, and other forms of job
opportunity that thwart the experience of duration in which things may go
astray, in which one may hesitate, delve into something that doesn’t
seem useful yet, drastically change or simply research. In sum, there are
many positive aspects of higher education in the arts that empower artists
today and, thereby, explain the mass exodus of artists from the artistic
scene toward the university. But there are equally many problems
associated with, what was uncritically appraised as the “educational
turn” in the arts, which prompt us to organize this conference.

One strategy is to continue to fight frontally against the neoliberal
policies implemented through the Bologna Process. Such position implies
engaging collectively, and sometimes even militantly, in political and
ideological issues of an anticapitalist struggle, where the right to free
education is a socialist demand for a common good. Another viewpoint,
profferred by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten in their radical phrase of
“undercommons,” implies resistance, subversion and trouble-making from

"Students must come to see themselves as the problem, which, counter to
the complaining of restorationist critics of the university, is precisely
what it means to be a customer, to take on the burden of realization and
always necessarily be inadequate to it. Later, these students will be able
to see themselves properly as obstacles to society, or perhaps, with
lifelong learning, students will return having successfully diagnosed
themselves as the problem (...) How to exceed the profession, and by
exceeding to escape, problematize themselves, force the university to
consider them a problem, a danger (...)"

What does it mean or take to fight against the privatization and
corporatization of the university today? Which positions and strategies
can be staked out in defining the struggle? Is the corporatization of the
university a global phenomenon, the “wind that comes from the West,”
from Britain spreading into the continental Europe through Holland or are
there still significant differences in various social and political
contexts in Europe? What is distinctive about the new academic research
programs in the arts compared to the humanities? What are the aesthetic
and political facets of developing artistic research under the provisions
of the academy? What transformations of the arts are to be expected by the
infuence of the art PhDs? Should we fear the university as a “greenhouse
to pamper” artists as “hothouse flowers” (James Elkins) whose art
will become, as it were, more academic? And, in turn, are we also to
expect an inflation of academic degrees and what effects could it have on
the job market? Or, could there also be a positive transaction from the
political lessons artists may learn in the institutional environment of
the university into the art practices, and perhaps, even into the concerns
with the public sphere in which art also participates?

The conference aims to highlight the positions of students, artists,
activists, scholars, researchers, professors, outcasts etc. concerned with
the aforementioned crisis of the arts and education regarded in a broader
context of the crisis of labor and the public sphere in neoliberal
society. Once a critical diagnosis of the situation is exhausted, the
discussion will seek to distinguish constructive views, proposals and
terms, under which our concerns can be articulated into concrete demands,
strategies and actions.

The political direction of this conference must have a bearing on its
set-up. Instead of hosting pre-written papers in an event that exhausts
itself in punctual representation, the conference proposes three
temporally distinct phases of development. In the first phase,
participants are invited to send a short text in which they articulate
their views, analysis, arguments for debate. The short texts are then
exchanged between all participants well in advance, prior to the
conference. At the same time, those who already have (or want to write)
longer texts in response to the conference call are invited to submit them
for a pre-publication, a reader as another, more deliberated point of
departure for the conference-event. In the second phase, the event of the
conference unfolds in discussions organized around problems and themes
that arose in written statements, where the views drafted in the short
texts may serve as arguments to develop, depart from or contest. In the
third phase, those participants who wish to take the discussion further
after the event, are invited to rewrite or write anew a text, which will
be subsequently published under the proceedings of this meeting. Instead
of having yet another line-up of representative lectures, we would like to
push the discussion into a commitment to consequences that a discussion
may produce.

Concept: Bojana Cvejić, Stefan Apostolou-Hölscher, and Bojana Kunst.

Realization: Franziska Aigner, Stefan Apostolou-Hölscher, Katja
Čičigoj, Bojana Cvejić, Tom Engels, Marta Keil, Bojana Kunst, and Frank
Max Müller.

The International Conference The Public Commons and the Undercommons of
Art, Education, and Labor is hosted by the MA program Choreography and
Performance (Institute for Applied Theatre Studies, Justus Liebig
University, Gießen) and organized in collaboration with the Hessian
Theatre Academy (HTA), the East European Performing Arts Platform (eepap),
Create to Connect (Ljubljana), ID Frankfurt, and Frankfurt LAB, which will
also be its venue. It is funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).


Registration is for free but required (undercommons at gmail.com)
More infos at: http://tinyurl.com/nlsmzem

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