Archive for September 2011
Last week we discussed selections from Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Boltanski and Chiapello’s The New Spirit of Capitalism and from Wallerstein’s After Liberalism. Since the weather was fitting, and since we guessed that summer is coming to a close, we decided to have some self-referential fun and get out on a pontoon boat at Lake McBride here in Eastern Iowa. HR and JH made a lovely flag that we flew on the vessel.
(Photos by KD and CP.)
Amongst ourselves and with friends we have been processing a few of these terms, or concepts, or maybe feelings. We’ve been doing our best to consider what this project might mean beyond surface understandings of a reading group, and instead attempting to develop our understanding of the project—its possibilities, its realities, its limitations—starting with a few preliminary thoughts on the terms below. I suspect we’ll find our understandings of them changing, becoming textured, and developing as we proceed.
Autonomy—For us autonomy means both a corporeal and ontological separation / independence from the University, from the normative paradigms of art production, from the marketization and professionalization of cultural practices and knowledge production. For us both the university and art-as-Discipline are entangled in a support network of capitalism, so we are experimenting with ways in which we might disrupt this rhythm.
Collaboration / Friendship / Collectivity—We’re interested in strengthening our bonds as friends, as collaborators, as well as exploring how our interests and knowledges intersect and inform one another’s interests and work.
Institutional Critique—There are several scales we feel we must articulate a critique of as well as push against. The neoliberal university, the university of Iowa, our respective programs (Intermedia, Sculpture, and others), the workshop/critique setting, as well as Art as a disciplinary and professional paradigm. We’re exploring both a rhetorical and theoretical critique of these respective ‘institutions’ but also experimenting with the possibility of producing new bodies and knowledges through an experiment of self-organized seminar. We have found we need a different educational experience to produce the knowledge we desire, and we no longer look to the University. In this sense, autonomy an institutional critique are strongly related for us.
Expectations of production—We find it important to push against the expectations of us in an MFA program is structured to produce academics and professional artists (while the vast majority of us will prove to be neither). For us part of our interest in doing this experimental self-organized seminar is an insistence that a different kind of work / labor is necessary, as well as disrupt the notions that we should produce work quickly, materially, and within the confines of acceptable academic / marketable trends.
Time & Speed—We refer to ‘time and speed’ both in terms of production—what we are expected to product as student-artists—but also in terms of expectations of the ways in which we are disciplined to participate in learning. Everything is accelerated and geared toward efficiency. We want to slow down our movements, our production, our thought processes, our learning, and our collaborations. We see this slow-down as a political gesture, among other things.
Self-Care—We, like most, are tired, frustrated, anxious, always struggling, etc, etc. For us the self-organized seminar is also a chance to maintain strong friendships and support systems, and do our best to pull away from the stressors that are immanent inside the MFA process and expectations of us as students, workers, and would-be professional artists.