TALKING WITH GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES AT APPROACHING A WORKING STRUCTURE WHEN INDEPENDENT.
DO WE SEE STRUCTURE AS SOMETHING WHICH CREATES MOMENTUM AND CONTINUTITY AMONG PARTICIPATING INDIVIDUALS?
STRUCTURE AS SOMETHING WHICH IS LIMITING AND PRESCRIPTIVE BORROWED FROM OUT MODED INSTIUTIONAL MODELS?
Invited participants who also attended previous discussions:
Black Lab (facilitated by black dogs who began within an institution from a dissatisfaction with art school in 2004)
In 2010 Black Dogs initiated a three-month collaborative learning and artistic knowledge-exchange project in Leeds.
Strategies For a Free Education. Five artists across several cities with a shared sensibility linked closely to critical artistic practice, socio-political accountability and intellectual development.
From October 2010 and for an indefinite period of time they have beeen researching, developing, acting upon and disseminating strategies for free education.
Invited participants new to the space.
Islington Mill Art Academy. Started in 2007 by a group of art foundation students keen on exploring alternatives to University based education for artists. The Academy exists to experiment with what an education in art can be, where it can take place and how it can be paid for.
Leeds Salon. A discussion group founded in early 2009 with an aim of establishing a public forum for debate around contemporary political, cultural and scientific issues.
Alternative Art College, Lincoln. Recently established as a reaction to increased tuition fees, students who set this up considering it to be a form of protesting in a non-aggressive way and providing people a place where they can develop knowledge.
WAYS WE MIGHT INTERPRET STRUCTURE, DEVELOPED OUT OF PREVIOUS DISCUSSION:
( EDUCATION CUTS OR EMANCIPATIONS THURSDAY 24TH )
Café Scientifique,(in attendance also) having a fixed structure since its beginnings in 1998.(An individual is invited, 20 min presentation and then a discussion. That the discussion is crucial, where the learning happens)
This model has proved to be quite productive, so it is repeated.
No time is spent critiquing or reworking the structure, people engage with it if they think it works. The model has grown rapidly and can potentially be applied to many differnt subjects.
Participants from Black lab reflected on this in relation to how much time they spend thinking about and integrating the structure and methods they apply to there mutual learning,
That it is useful and sometimes necessary but questioning the amount of time it might detract from learning about these other things.
CHARLOTTE FROM STRATEGIES FOR A FREE EDUCATION
THAT STRUCTURE MUST HAVE TO COME INTO IT IN ANOTHER WAY AS THE GROUP DOES NOT ENGAGE WITH EACH OTHER IN ONE PHYSICAL LOCATION, (SUCH AS CAFE SCI) BEING SPREAD ACROSS SEVERAL CITIES.
Unsure about art education and financial limitations. Organised around monthly meetings, each participant understands the necessity to travel from the beginning,
Has been quite difficult, but allows them to connect with projects and people which they can combine with traveling to see one another.
Initially hoping to come up with a set of strategies that could be implemented elsewhere, but more of a platform to developing projects together and focus in on individual practices.
Strugged with taking on board formal structures of education and whether they wanted to resist or endorse them,
IS THE STRUCTURE IN THE IDEA?
CAN THAT BECOME ENOUGH OF A DRIVING FORCE FOR COLLECTIVE AND INDEPENDENT DEVELOPMENT?
ANOTHER LINE OF ENQUIRY THAT DEVELOPED OUT OF A PREVIOUS DISCUSSION
WOULD IT BE A STRUCTURE QUITE DIFFERENT TO THAT USED BY THE EDUCATION INSTIUTION? NON HIERARCHICAL, RECIPROCAL.
INDEPENDENT STRUCTURES THAT REPLICATE THE INSTITUTION COME UNDER CRITIQUE ( WITHIN WITHOUT DISCUSSION FRIDAY 18TH.)
WHY REPLICATE THE STRUCTURE OF AN INSTIUTION THEN WORK OUTSIDE OF IT?
Easy critique of autonomous projects is that it 'looks' the same of the thing it's fighting against. It is important to underline the different ethics.
Thinking about what they are doing through support structures that exsist already, such as peer learning, which can be intrinsic to artistic practice, but wanting to look at these peer structures in a more focused way.
Can’t plan ahead, its quite fluid. Didn’t want it to be a top down structure.
Potentially your peers are situated within this national discourse/ network of activiated individuals.
Does it allow other people to come in at other points? access these strategies.
Other people on the periphery - are they then part of this?
Is strategies for a free education just a body of research? Or, is it a structure that a new group can just adopt, maybe at the end they could produce something?
However it is not a generalised thing, quite specific to those individuals. Based on these network that already exsisted, so if other people were to formalise their networks, based on there situation, something quite different could arise.
Lead by the specfics of the group.
Is there a timeframe? when would you be able to produce these things? This could lead onto a bigger body of work, something collaborative.
If you are to become more open and let other people join, do you have to be more structured to accomodate that openess? Compromise on ideology? Then lead to hierarchy?
ISSLINGTON MILL Thoughts on how other people might enter into this structure:
Started from a whole line of questions; what are the things you need to know? what does it mean to be an artist?
Practical Solution to quite a bad situation. People are always coming in and out of it, with many different levels of engagement and bringing a diversity of backgrounds, each changing the dynamics.
They have found that there is no correct structure, it needs to be responsive to change.
Possible that the structure has changed every six weeks, A benefit of being a small group only accountable to yourself, in that you can be reactionary and change direction willfully.
Speaking about how they work with artists, it is considered that when you take yourself out of the system you run the risk of becoming quite isolated, so you need to be proactive.
Not something that is for everyone, having this organisation side to your practice is probally more representative of how you can sustain yourself as an artist.
Has this structuring and organising of the group/academy effected and determined the sorts of practices that the artists involved have produced such as collaboration?
People involved seem to experience quite a heavy dose of reality in doing so.
People interested in collaboration possibly drawn to this process, however many members had no prior interest in collaboration.
Question that carries forward a point from within without discussion on Friday 18th,
‘Shift to needing a PhD to teach and the possibility of this then applying to a particular type of practitioner which then filters down to students who begin to only engage with this model of practice.’
To think about if you have these alternatives structures of learning, do they start to determine the type of work thats made within this area.
Also to mention career expectations of participants. Teaching as a staple form of income for artists from previous generations, but if you are now looking at 8 or 9 years of study, is this a fair investment?
Idea of your peers being situated within this national discourse. Potentially you do enter into a particular style of working in an alternative but that this might be comparable to any time you enter into a network and this effecting your work, such as that of Goldsmiths or Glasgow. People practicing within a certain framework or certain values. Networks of people interested in collaboration, or engaging with projects for empowerment of indivduals and communities through self organisation. Quite at the heart of the choices you make.
SFFE. Does not see it as your practice becoming a certain kind of way but being influenced by a spectrum of individuals and groups.
Also believes that possibly even within these different institutions and groups there are a lot of similar questions being asked - a cross over.
ALTERNATIVE ART COLLEGE LINCOLN
Born out of a frustration while still within a education institution, Lack of freedom of education in general. Trying to break down heirachical structures through the variety of positions that people come to the AAC, being equalised through collaborativly bringing everything to the table.
It is supported by the university, the initial position was not that of an opposition to the education facility, it was through trying to find a way of accessing and improving the current system, Even though they position themselves as an alternative.
Yet, it wants to facilate bringing other people from outside the institution into AAC.
Supported and influenced by ideas in student as producer(follow link for more information) http://studentasproducer.lincoln.ac.uk/
Question about duration in comparison to the education institution, do they end, is this decided from the start?
It has to be very different for each group, some require one/a few individuals who act as a fixed point as other people come in and out, some groups are in constant dialogue about the duration of what they are building together, during these periods of time.
Its asserted that many of the groups who have attended Alternative Strategies have come through some sort of further or higher education structure- at what point do people think these alternatives could be be established?
A large part of the impetus for setting up Alternative Strategies was to unpick the role of the institution in the alternative, as often it does seem like many of these alternatives are born out of the institution whether as a reaction or a provocation. However, is that just subject to the fact the the whole part of lives up to the point, or at an age when we are coming into being ourselves, maybe specific to an art context we are coming to identify our relationship with art, we are in education. This is beyond our control, but when control is placed in our hands, we experience a lot of presures to be continuing in this way. Thus, it is hard to draw distinction and separation.
At one of the last discussions we were talking about how we might project into the future, because things are going to change, with fees increase etc. Could this create a space where alternative have more interest and hold more weight as a form of accredation and qualification?
How do we accredit these alternatives? Not through equivalencies, but about what you have actually developed from this?
In alternatives, the structure can be set up (maybe more so than on a degree) so that whatever you do for yourself you do for others also.
However it is asserted that there has to be forms of individual gain aswell for people to invest.
WOULD IT BE A STRUCTURE QUITE DIFFERENT TO THAT USED BY THE EDUCATION INSTIUTION? NON HEIRARCHICAL, RECIPROCAL?
Trying to create the right environment where these hierarchies can be broken down,
Problematising the framing of these alternatives, can be presented and interpreted as oppositional, which can be misleading
In some senses its a fetishisation of what the education structure offers, and can often be used to just fill a void that is left after an experience of education, to mimic that support structure.
There is clearly a sense that as people are asked to pay more money, what they get for that money becomes less and less, that is inevitably part of the context.
It is also people being intellectually enagaged with something and thinking that maybe there are better ways of doing something than the way we have been presented with, but holding onto that it is not just oppositional.
Alternative strategies bringing together smaller networks, which then can help create larger networks.
Oftern in these alternatives, there is a lot of peer network support happening, but not much education. As often these alternatives evolve out of close groups of people, and the need for thee support networks but sometimes they dont evolve beyond that, because they can be limited by the group of people they are. It is asserted that these things are crutial and essential; you can’t have education without peer support, but you can have peer support without education, we have to be sure that in these alternatives we are doing more than just making each other feel better about ourselves and what we are doing. Whether we can use the word structure here, or whether we are just talking about creating something which takes them beyond themselves,because that is education.
Important questions to be asked about what it takes to be an artist and the possible separation of this.
What we need to be looking at is the ways that these smaller networks of people begin to network with each other so that they can support one another and share areas of cross over as much as disagree and have ideological debates with one another, it is an evolutionary process.
It can often be about establishing your economic identity, when you become as consumer as a student, tied into the academic market.
Starting from that given position, with a series of questions that try to re-imagine that thing that you are dealing with, and then try to work out of that.
The nature of the education institution as something which you buy into is that you pay money to not have to think about that,part of an economy of convenience.
so when you dont buy into it inevitably you have to spend more time thinking about what your doing and what it is, and maybe thats more productive, this form of questioing the nauture of your enagegment, but also true to the time after a degree when you are practising as an artist.
IS STRUCTURE SOMETHING WHICH IS SIDE LINED IN ALTERNATIVES AS IT IS NOT BEING IMPOSED UPON THE GROUPS (AS IN DOMINANT EDUCATIONAL MODELS, WHERE THERE ARE CLEARLY DEFFINED END POINTS.)
BUT THAT IT COULD POSSIBLY BE FUNDAMENTAL TO A DEVELOPING ENGAGEMENT WITH EACH OTHER AND DEVELOPING INDIVIDUAL INTERESTS.
Groups which don’t position themselves anywhere with regards to the institution, Such as
LEEDS SALON AND CAFE SCIENTIFIQUE. (TAKING SOUNDINGS, ANOTHER LEEDS BASED GROUP UNABLE TO ATTEND)THINKING ABOUT THE NATURE OF THESE DISCUSSION FORUMS AS SOMETHING WHICH IS RESPONSIVE TO POLITICAL AND CULTURAL ISSUES OF THE MOMENT AND STIMULATING DEBATE ON CURRENT AFFAIRS.
These groups dont appear to spend so much time addressing there structure and seem to focus on the content.
Based on a history of auto didactic learning and the high ideal of education, which was set up so that people could give themselves and education that the elite were given.
Create a situation where they could invite experts in their fields,writers, thinkers, journalists, academics to put there ideas across to a lay audience in an accessable way but without compromising on content.
We are living in very depoliticised times what the relationship of this to why there is such a rise in debating societies.
‘politics are moribund and the idea of a liberal education and what this would be, is dead. so people are looking for other interesting means of educating themselves.’
It is important to have an idea of what education is about, as a starting point, critical analysis and the ability to work it out personally.
Idea of confronting the range of education enviroments, as appropriate to the situation, being experimental with that and analytical of what that creates. These all have there place.
Working from the basic of what works as positive leaning situation.
The use of Itunes U. accessing all lectures online. We do need structure, and we can operate by re-structuring exsisting structures,
Are we talking about alternatives to university structure? Let's use what we can out of that and run these alternatives as well.
If education takes you beyond yourself, can we do that without the institution, access to resources etc.
RESISTANCE TO ROUTINE OR STRUCTURE AS AN ACT WHICH PREVENTS EXPLOTATIVE CAPITALIST STRUCTURES AND ORGANISATIONS GETTING INVOLVED AND TAKING CONTROL.
CAN A LACK OF STRUCTURE BE LIBERATING?
BUT AT THE SAME TIME, DIFFICULT TO OPERATE WITHIN, ESPECIALLY WITH REGARDS TO COLLECTIVE ACTIVITY, BECAUSE AS MUCH AS YOU MIGHT EXCLUDE/ EVADE COERCIVE FORCES, YOU ALSO POTENTIALLY EXCLUDE OTHERS WITH SIMILAR DESIRES, AN INABILITY TO BE PINNED DOWN.
OPENNESS IN STRUCTURE:
CAN WE HAVE STRUCTURE WITHOUT COMPROMISING ON THE IDEOLOGICAL POSITION OF AN ALTERNATIVE, OR SOMETHING WHICH IS REACTIONARY.
ARE THERE STRUCTURES WHICH ARE RESPONSIVE TO ANALYSIS AND ACTION?