OMMMMMM!

How do we transfuture the university? How do we combat the anxiety we have and feel as students, tutors, professors and staff members?

Transfuturing: a neologism made from transforming and future.

In the coming months students from the MA Home of Performance Practices, want to address the Future of the Art University based on their experience and observation of a high level of anxiety with students, professors and tutors within education. 

With this Open Call we reach out to individuals who have experienced anxiety in education and aim to collect their thoughts and proposals that encourage people to doubt and design ‘better’ futures.

This project is a collaboration with ArtEZ studium generale (Future Art School), ArtEZ Press and the Professorship for Art education as Critical Tactics at ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem.

The following text is one of the contributions to the project Transfuturing the University. Find more info here


In order to avoid the anxiety that comes with the many references in long texts, I decided to create a visual book with notes and graphic material.

PAST

In the past, I had to read so many books simultaneously that I couldn’t even focus on the content. I felt that I just had to read them, not understand or memorise them. However, I also had the feeling that the more the personal the texts were, the easier they could be understood. When I was editing my first M.A. thesis, my tutor commented in bold capital letters with a yellow background: I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. WRITE PROPERLY.

During the whole creative process, this woman displayed very abusive behaviour, adding more aggressive comments to my thesis. One day, while seeing her speaking impolitely to other students, I realised that this behaviour is accepted because of a power dynamic—the distorted idea we have of how a wise person should act and behave because they hold the knowledge and power. Students had to obey because they will have to act similarly subservient in the job market.

PRESENT

In my current M.A. in Performance Practices at ArtEZ, I witness a need for change. Professors are ready to open conversations about controversial topics, reflecting on important theories of the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries. It seems that the course is designed to keep the students’ thought processes active and alive, inviting their opinions, doubts and new ideas. However (and this small detail is the reason why I decided to coordinate a whole book about anxiety), even in the moments of reflection, there is a need to defend the wisdom of the theorist introducing a new idea.

As far back as I can remember to being a child at school, I’ve felt that there is not enough space for doubt or comments during class. Doubting a theorist means doubting the tutor. Doubting these ideas means doubting someone’s whole body of work. One day I realised that if I say that I don’t feel connected to an artist’s work that someone else in class likes, we understand that to mean that I also don’t like the person, not just the artist. Some students were practically attacking others because they disagreed with an artist’s practice! What are we really defending? Where does this panic come from? I feel it comes from the fact that we are not used to discussing, doubting and commenting openly in class.

However, this M.A. is one of the most productive experiences in my life because the programme allows you to truly reflect on everything that is being taught. We analyse the learning process, doubting, challenging and changing it to propose something new through the process of studying. And here we are now.

FUTURE

You will be able to scan the Q.R. code and listen to a fifteen-minute meditation exercise in Spanish. You will be able to listen together with your fellow students before each class. What I am proposing with this audio is to create a separation between the outside and the inside world, where the class will be done by almost whispering to each other. You can keep speaking in class, the way I speak in the audio.

I also attach a big blank page in the book on which readers can answer questions and send them to my e-mail address. Your answers will be included in the following issue of the book.

Put your feelings here:

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Put your experience here:

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Put your proposal here:

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Thomas Diafas

Thomas Diafas is a queer Greek-Dominican multidisciplinary performance artist and educator. Through his background in education, cinema, linguistics and performing arts, he has created a hybrid that challenges the mainstream idea of what art and arts education can be. He calls his practice ‘Performing the Real’ because it is willing to create a new conversation between performance art and everyday life and questions the relationship in a between the two personally and politically.