deschooling.classroom(o^o)

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collective self-education in the arts and culture…

BLOG RESSUME of the discussion SELF-EDUCATION AS SEEN BY EDUCATION

Speakers and moderators:

Ana Vujanović was born in Belgrade in 1975 and now bases herself in Belgrade, abortion
Berlin and Paris. She works as a freelance theorist, shop
researcher, writer, lecturer, organizer and dramaturge in the field of contemporary performing arts and culture. Vujanović graduated in Theatre and Radio Production at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, Belgrade, and wrote her PhD dissertation on the field of Theatre studies. She also attended the School for Image and Politics at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Belgrade, and graduated from the Culture and Gender Studies department at Belgrade’s Alternative Academic Educational Network. She is a member of the editorial collective TkH (Walking Theory) Platform (Belgrade), and is editor-in-chief of the TkH journal for performing arts theory.

Iskra Geshoska is executive director of NGO Kontrapunkt(Cultural center Tochka). She is working in the field of cultural policy especially concerning the issue of independent cultural scene. She was consultant in the Ministry of Culture of Macedonia in the period of 2002-2006. She is publishing essays and theoretical overviews concerning cultural studies and performing arts.

Dr. Marina Grzinić, philosopher, artist and theoretician. She works in Ljubljana and Vienna. Grzinic is Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Institute of Fine Arts, Post Conceptual Art Practices. She is researcher at the Institute of Philosophy at the ZRC SAZU (Scientific and Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Art) in Ljubljana. She also works as freelance media theorist, art critic and curator.

Milena Dragićević Šešić is Cultural policy amd management professor, researcher, author, consultant and editor. Author of numerous books and studies translated in 15 languages. An international lecturer on cultural policy and management. Expert and consultancy work in cultural policy and management for European Cultural Foundation, Council of Europe, UNESCO, Foundation Marcel Hicter, Pro Helvetia, British Council…

Jasna Koteska (born 1970, Skopje, Macedonia). Works as an Assistant Teacher at the University Sc. Cyril and Methodius, and as a Lecturer at the Center for Women Studies in Skopje. Holds master degrees in literature (University of Skopje) and in gender studies (Central European University, Budapest). She is the editor of Sexualities in the journal Identities. Jasna Koteska was editor of Blesok Reviews.

Miško Šuvaković was born in 1954 in Belgrade. He was a co-founder and member of conceptual artistic Group 143 (1975-1980), a co-founder and member of informal theory and art group “Community for Space Investigation” (1982-1989), and is a member of platform for performing arts theory and practice Walking theory (TkH, from 2000). He is a professor of aesthetics and theory of art at the Faculty of Music and Interdisciplinary studies at the University of Arts, Belgrade. He published numerous essays and books in Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, German, Hungarian, Chinese and English languages: Impossible Histories (2003, 2006), Epistemology of Art (2008), Konceptualna umetnost (2008),The Clandestine Histories of The OHO Group (2010).

Tomislav Medak is a philosopher with interests in constellations contemporary political philosophy, media theory and aesthetics. He is co-ordinating theory program and publishing activities of the Multimedia Institute/MAMA (Zagreb, Croatia). He’s a free software and free culture advocate. He’s project lead of Croatian Creative Commons team and board member of international commons organization iCommons. He’s member of urban activist initiative Right to the City.He is a member of the Zagreb based theatre company BADco and of Multimedial institute, Zagreb.

Jelena Vesić is independent  curator, cultural activist and editor based in Belgrade. Co-editor of Prelom – Journal of Images and Politics 2001-2009 and founding member of independent organization Prelom Kolektiv . Also, founding member of the network of independent organizations Other Scene (Belgrade)  and co-editor of Red Thread – Journal for social theory, contemporary art and activism (Istanbul) since 2009. Her research is dedicated to the politics of representation in art and visual culture, practices of self-organization and politization of cultural work. Her curatorial practice often experiments with frameworks, methodologies, and contextual and collaborative aspects of art.

Teodor Celakoski is project coordinator at Multimedia Institute, Zagreb. In last ten years he initiated several projects and platforms focused on advocating change in the Croatian culture policy field like Clubture, Zagreb Culture Kapital of Europe 3000, Alliance for Center for Independent Culture and Youth. Recently he is engaged with The Right to the City campaign fighting against devastation of public spaces in Zagreb and Croatia.

Marta Popivoda (Belgrade, 1982) is film and video maker, but also cultural worker from Belgrade. She is part of the TkH collective of theorists and artists (TkH=Walking Theory), which deals with the problematics of performance paradigm in art, culture and theory. TkH is mostly active on the independent art scenes in Belgrade and Paris. In her solo projects she explores cinema as a medium and format of contemporary art and as a tool of knowledge production. Her most widely known work is illegal_cinema (2007-…), which has been presented in France, Turkey, Spain, Croatia and Serbia. She also collaborates in theatre performances and contemporary opera as video artist. Occasionally publishes theoretical texts and reviews

Slavčo Dimitrov (b. 1984) holds a diploma for Comparative and General Literature at the University of St. Cyril and Methodius and holds MA in Gender Studies and Philosophy, on the subject of: Genealogical Deconstruction of the Confessional Subject: Political and Ethical Implications. He is a PhD candidate in Gender Studies and Philosophy. He is working as a researcher, teaching assistant and project coordinator in the Visual and Cultural Research Centre at the Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities Research Euro-Balkan, Skopje.


Marijana Cvetković is PhD candidate at the University of Arts in Belgrade (museum management and development). Founder of Station Service for contemporary dance and Nomad Dance Academy, Balkan platform for development of contemporary dance and performing arts. Cultural activist at the independant cultural scenes of Belgrade and Serbia. Since 2009 teaches as guest lecturer and teaching assistent at the MA in cultural management and cultural policy at the University of Arts in Belgrade (UNESCO Chair). Since 2011 teaches at MA in performance research programme at the same university (in cooperation with Warwick University, UK and University of Amsterdam).

Vida Knežević is a free lance cultural worker. She graduated from the Department of Art History of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade. She completed her MA studies at the Department of Art and Media Theory of the University of Arts in Belgrade. She is currently attending a doctoral studies course at the same department. From 2006 to 2010, she was working on the Kontekst Gallery project and from 2008 till 2010 she was teaching at the Advanced Vocational Studies School of Fine and Applied Arts in Belgrade. She is member of Kontekst collective. She has been primarily working on initiating discussions about phenomena in contemporary art, culture and society. Through organizing exhibitions, presentations, lectures, panel discussions, workshops, etc., she is trying to initiate and develop a critical discourse on contemporary art and culture as a process of self-education, reflection, self-criticism and thinking.

Vida Knežević and Marko Miletić are working together within Kontekst collective. Through their work, constant learning process and interaction with local and international art and activist scenes, they developed an understanding of their work as a space for critical and political action through contemporary art and culture.

Vladimir Jerić Vlidi is musician and digital tourist based in Belgrade. Founding member of self-organized networks Slobodna kultura  and Druga scena.

Participants:

Aleksandra Sekulić (CZKD, Belgrade)

Amila Puzić (Abart, Mostar)

Anja Bogojević (Abart, Mostar)

Asja Trbović (Crvena, Sarajevo)

Bertan Selim (Amsterdam/Skopje)

Biljana Dimitrova (FRIK festival, Skopje)

Bojana Matić Ostojić (SCP, Sarajevo)

Bojan Đorđev (TkH, Belgrade)

Dragana Jovović (TkH, Belgrade)

Dragana Zarevska (Skopje)

Dren Berishaj (Stacion, Prishtina)

Dubravka Sekulić (Belgrade)

Dušica Parezanović (REX, Belgrade)

Gjorgje Jovanovik (Skopje)

Elena Veljanovska (Skopje)

Filip Jovanovski (Skopje)

Gjorgji Janevski (Skopje)

Hristina Ivanoska (Pres to Exit, Skopje)

Ivana Ivković (CDU, Zagreb)

Ivana Dragšić (Skopje)

Jelena Knežević (TkH, Belgrade)

Katarina Popović (Belgrade)

Katja Praznik (Društvo Asocijacija, Ljubljana)

Lidija Radojević (DPU, Ljubljana)

Marko Kostanić (CDU, Zagreb)

Milena Bogavac (Drama Mental Studio, Belgrade)

Miljenka Buljević (Booksa, Zagreb)

Saša Asentić (Perart, Novi Sad)

Siniša Ilić (TkH, Belgrade)

Tanita Zhubi (Stacion, Prishtina)

Vesna Milosavljević (SEEcult, Belgrade)

Vesna Vuković (Blok, Zagreb)

Vladimir Jankovski (Kontrapunkt, Skopje)

The main partakers in the first discussion at the regional meeting of the participants of the independent cultural and art scenes were the university professors: Miško Šuvaković, website
Marina Gržinić, approved
Milena Dragićević Šešić i Jasna Koteska. The moderator of the discussion, find
Ana Vujanović, stated at the very beginning that her choice of the participants had been based on their specific sensibility or their susceptibility for the issues connected to the independent scene.

As all the participants have also taken part in the Deschooling Classroom project, the moderator added that she had a feeling that all the lecturers would be willing to introduce a self-educational initiative in the work framed by the institutions in which they work. Therefore, she opened the discussion by posing a question: what would be the role of a self-organized, self-educational initiative within a large university: “Would our presence at university be perceived as a kind of intervention, or would we be assimilated?”, she asked.

Professor Miško Šuvaković was the first one who spoke, stating at the very beginning that he observed the Deschooling Classroom project with avid interest, sometimes from nearby, sometimes from afar, and not always with positive impressions. He referred to the discussion held at the previous programme, during the presentation of the book “Deschooling Classroom Toolbook”. He singled out two theses from that discussion, comparing them to “two beautiful stitches”. The first one was the theses on the chronology of independent scene and the differences between the end of the nineties and its “nth wave”, represented by the contemporary active artists and organizations. The second theses he addressed, was the statement made by Marta Popivoda, which in Miško Šuvaković’s opinion would be “an excellent text or a book title”. The title would be: “Education is a high-risk issue”.

He said that the question of the risk is always twofold, sometimes even threefold, given the fact that learning is a process which final outcome is not easily predicted.  … Speaking about the nineties of the last century, Miško Šuvaković remembered an article he had read at the time in a neoliberal American magazine. The article dealt with the university of the future, which would be a central hierarchical structure with a network of agencies. “In order to survive, University has to be surrounded by a network of independent groups active in various interests and professional spans. That would imply a hybrid structure and if we speak of university or alternative schooling, I think those two must be interdependent. Any kind of a serious educational venture is in its base self-educative, and what university education lacks is self- organizing. And that is an important factor”, he said. In the rest of his exposé, he refused to project envisage a scheme for such a university, calling it an utopia in itself. “It is a dream of a better university”, he said, “but I am of opinion that a dream should be dreamed, eyes opened or closed.” … Comparing the contemporary context with the one in the nineties, the time when the article was published, Miško Šuvaković noticed that today, artists and cultural workers might be facing even more difficulties than then. He described the contemporary ex-Yugoslav, and especially Serbian, society as a breach between “neo-bourgeoisie, national restoration and neoliberal capitalist apocalypse.” … The formulation was greeted by an affirmative laughter in the audience.

In order to illustrate, he analysed the notion of mobility and the idea of the nomad-artist which, in his youth, seemed very attractive.

“Today”, he said, “the flexible model shows something that Brian Holmes misunderstood. According to that model, neoliberal market is offered a new product, a new identity, a new something, every minute… Actually, you offer goods, you become goods, and the very fact puts you in grave danger. If you reject neoliberal capitals, you automatically return to national-bourgeoisie revolution. Restoring a thing of the past… Which poses a question: what can be done? One of the answers is: nothing, but it puts you in a dismal place and frustration. On the other hand, if you do resist, you clash with the mafia, with the remnants of secret services, the remnants of Masonic lodges, with neoliberal capitalism which requires flexibility while, actually, trying to use your product. You become both corrupting and corruptible. What is possible is to develop critical fascinations and obsessions. What I have learned from the Deschooling Classroom project, is that those individual obsessions and fascinations can be organized and self-organized.”

In the course of his presentation, Miško Šuvaković kept mentioning the importance of collective learning, and the fact that when fifteen people study the same thing, they turn into a movement which should be articulated, and by articulating a context made by several people, a revolution can occur. Mentioning “revolution”, he stopped his presentation, asking Marina Gržinić to take over, wittily noticing that “revolution, after all, is her area of expertise”.

Marina Gržinić posed the question of the difference between “universe as educational boiler and self-organization, on the other hand”. She said that the relationship must exist and that she tried to explain it through the notion of geopolitics. “It is of vital importance”, she observed, “to make note of where we address the issue. Are we talking about Belgrade, ex-Yugoslavia, or about a neoliberal society? We have to try to discover a mechanism which separates and connects university and self-organisation, as to opposing poles.” She concluded that the question of content is of key importance: “What is this content which is a part of self-education? What is the idea, the concept and the aim of the thus produced knowledge? … That question is closely connected to geopolitics, as it actually refers to the points of antagonism, the topics, the segments of history, which are absent from the official education but are constantly articulated by the self-educational practices.”

Continuing, Gržinić said that university is facing a crisis nowadays and that the crisis is not of solely financial nature. “The very educational reform, which ended in Bologna, has led the system to the point in which knowledge has become turned into mere skills, into mechanisms which prepare students for labour market. Consequently, it has turned the students into a subject for anything.  They are programmed to always follow the market needs, while actually they not only know nothing, but also have no position which they would take and defend, they can adapt to anything. I would call the process highschoolisation: one can do everything, but doesn’t know anything, there is neither a position nor a place which connects us in terms of geopolitics; one performs in the name of a universal ideal, stripped off any kind of critical programme. The very fact that contemporary universities are so hierarchically determined and discriminative has put knowledge in the hands of self-education.”

Having explained the functioning of mechanisms which, at universities, estimates knowledge as lower than the control of work and hierarchy, she concluded: “Time is the matrix of global capitalism, but time is not what remains, for we always work somewhere. We work in a space, in ex-Yugoslavia.”

Having been invited to speak, Milena Dragićević-Šešić announced that she would tell a personal story at the beginning of her presentation. She spoke about the year 1993, about the war, the sanctions, the collapse of all the social values, which made her and her colleagues, university professors, wish to self-organize in order to study. She spoke about a self-organized group, which consisted of twenty university professors from various faculties, electronics, mathematics, humanities, etc., and about Professor Ljubiša Rajić, from the faculty of Philology, who initiated their self-educational process. “We were desperate”, she said, “an incapable of finding interlocutors. From the feeling of nausea, we formed the group in the middle of university, but among the practitioners to whom I belonged, a similar thing happened. That is how Justat was founded.” Having given a detailed description of Justat as an organization, she explained what happened when Justat was tried to be integrated in university. “We integrated in our curriculum all the best from the independent network followed by Justat, which is how the interdisciplinary study of stage design started. However, once it lost self-organization, it soon ceased to exist.


Our curriculums started being “censured by the laws of the market”, she said.“

She referred to marina Gržinić’s presentation and the thesis that contemporary universities are based on the work control principles. Milena Dragićević-Šešić wanted to remind the participants that the model which Gržinića had called neoliberal was, actually, constructed in Yugoslavia during the “strong left wing” reign. She reminded of the educational system which was applied in the mid-level schools, the so-called Šuvarice, and stated that the only difference lies in the fact that the universities of nowadays are turning towards the labour market, whereas Šuvarice were trying to meet “the needs of the society”.

Drawing on her experience and knowledge of how universities function, she concluded that it is not easy to set up a “self-organised sub-collective within a wider university skill”. In order to support this thesis statement, she mentioned legal processes in the way of obtaining accreditation, and the country which issues them only to the universities with predefined and precisely planned curricula. She explained that she has, during her career as a lecturer, tried to persuade students to make their personal study diary, in which they would make notes of their educational process on daily basis, and that it would not only reflect which part of the book they passed that day, but also what happened in their lives, what they read, heard, and experienced. However, even if there were any students interested in the idea, the professor Dragićević-Šešić was prevented by her colleagues to put it through. Their reason was that such a diary would require “additional time and energy” which could prevent the students from meeting other requirements defined by the formal university plans and curriculums.

“Learning through research”, she noticed, “was left to the students who were doing their PhD, and even then it was not a personal choice. What it actually meant, was to involve a new student-researcher into an institution-led research project.”

She continued by saying that in our country it is not possible to think about what is called “the validation of self-acquired knowledge”, which is common at some of the European universities. “The possibility for someone who has not attended a single course at university to submit a request, after which his or her knowledge would be verified, would be seen in our country as a legal way of purchasing a degree”, she said.

She spoke about ambition as a characteristic which is not highly deemed in our culture: “Self-organization requires something that is not popular among the left-wing supporters. That is a level of leadership for, someone has to stir the action. Ideally, the someone would be a student, not a professor or a teaching assistant, but someone has to do it. If not, mediocre people would remain in the leading positions, as they are the only ones brave enough to express their craving for leadership.”

Milena Dragićević-Šešić concluded her presentation by speaking about Deschooling Classroom in which she participated in the capacity of a lecturer and a consultant. “The closing segment of this project is neither the book, the film, nor the toolbox you have created. The only valuable product of Deschooling Classroom will be if all the participants, from now on, continue to initiate learning processes in their surroundings.”

The professor Jasna Koteska told us about the summer-school application for she has once received, concluding that she could not make out the real subject of any of the listed disciplines. The participation fee for the three days event was €750, so Koteska started by humorously mentioning all the things she would rather spend the money on, as all of those seemed more worth it than the skills named: bridging or remodelling or something equally abstract.

After this, she noticed that every university is constructed around false disciplinary partitions. “Self-education”, she said, “can tear down the false discourse, by structuring learning around notions. A notion can be butterfly, eye. A notion can be toilet, and all the notions can be tackled through a variety of disciplines.”… She also reminded the participants of a quotation of one of Sigmund Freud’s psychiatrists: “Theory is good but it doesn’t prevent things from being.” … The interesting quote was followed by laughter, while many of the participants noted it down.

Koteska, then, drew a parallel between knowledge and weapons.

“There isn’t a single movement which was created in the street”, she said. “Movements are made in classrooms before they go out in the streets.”

She mentioned numerous historical examples in support of the thesis and, after asking herself about the reason, she concluded that, regardless of the hierarchical structure, university framework offers more freedom to its students than they would have after they graduate and find the jobs in corporations and institutions.

She gave a detailed presentation about hierarchy, saying that it often contradicts logics and common sense, stating charming examples from her own university experience.

After her presentation, the discussion continued and the participants asked succinct and practical questions, but theoretical ones as well.

As it was initially stated, the working languages of the meeting are all the languages that all the participants can use and understand.

P.S.

The discussion finished informally, at the dinner in a restaurant which was especially chosen for the participants by the TkH organizational team. The atmosphere was cheerful, so here a few photos to illustrate it :)

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2 Responses

  1. skaltas says:

    Sve pocinje u srcu, da bi se zatim popelo u mozak i pokvari stvar

  2. skaltas says:

    „Pokreti nastaju u školi, pa zatim izlaze na ulice.“ Ne sekogas. Nekoi dvizenja nastanati na ulica, podocna se izucuvaat vo skolite.

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Deschooling Classroom

Deschooling Classroom is a project that addresses the contemporary independent cultural scenes in the region, researching and offering an alternative to the hierarchical models of education in the art and culture. Methodologically, the project moves away from the concepts of individual authorship and expertise, and advocates open collective educational structures where self-organised communities facilitate horizontal production, exchange and distribution of knowledge.