On JOY

Proposal by Ryan O'Shea and Mar Esteban Martin

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


Abstract: The act of learning is a privilege and as our minds get filled with more knowledge, we should also acknowledge that expanding the mind can (and should be) a joyous experience.

Part thoughts, part poetry, part survival guide, part photographic images, ‘On JOY’ will be a series of notes and thoughts on how to find joy while studying inside an academic programme. These range from practical advice like chiselling out time in a schedule for a beverage with a friend to more abstract notes on losing yourself in thoughts while cycling.


On JOY

Transfuturing the University

Proposal by Ryan O’Shea and Mar Esteban Martin

July 18, 2022

Introduction and Motivations

‘On JOY’ will be a series of notes and thoughts on how to find joy while studying inside an academic programme.

It will work from the four pillars of: 

Where to find joy in life

Where stress finds us in life

Where to find joy in academia

Where stress finds us within academia

Our purpose is to bring to the surface specific practices that make us feel uncomfortable, stressed, or anxious in order to break them down and reconsider them using the smell, taste, and touch of JOY. We aim to transform our experience and the context where it occurs ‘from within.’

We approach the act of learning as a privilege and, as our minds get filled with more knowledge, we should also acknowledge that expanding the mind can (and should be) a joyous experience.

Some related questions:

What does joy look like?

Which everyday activities make us feel joy?

Where do we feel joy?

Which is the embodied experience of joy?

Present:

As students of an M.A. programme, we opened a conversation about what causes us anxiety inside the institution. We discussed the differences between pressure, anxiety and stress and how these embodied feelings are also part of our psychophysical mechanism that keep us active and energised.

As arts students, we join academia to open up, to question, to play and to be part of an enriching environment.

We trust in dismantling the traditional binary between playing and learning.

Future:

1) Life as a holistic experience. We want to dissolve the boundaries between life and academia and question effort, stress and anxiety as fundamental pillars of a learning experience in academia.

2) We believe in the possibility of finding, experiencing and getting joy in every activity that takes place inside of an academic context.

3) Joy not as a cure but as an antidote.

Our aim is not only to promote joyful experiences of leisure outside the institution that could help us to deal with systemic anxiety. We also want to tackle the embodiment of joy in order to bring and place it inside the classroom and in each of our practices as members of a school of arts. Through this proposal, students, professors and members of the staff can gain agency to transform from within. 

We want to unravel the mechanisms of joyous experiences by giving value to this feeling and naming the everyday actions that make us feel JOY. How can JOY flourish by using awareness and making small (maybe absurd) changes in our daily practices inside academia?

Practical Proposal

Using these first thoughts as a basis, a workshop was created that took these pillars and invited participants to play with their connections. This is the resulting residue of that workshop—imaginations, thoughts and questions.

A JOYous twister 

Score

  1. Landing in the space of joy and self-awareness:

Scan the QR code, find a comfortable place and follow the guidance.

  1. Slowly start moving your body, acknowledging the space and people around you. Walk and move freely across the space.
  2. Continue thinking about those things that make you experience joy. Be precise and define them as much as you can.

Who is involved there? Where are you? Which action are you enacting? How is your body placed? When is it happening? Do you have any material?

  1. Writing activity: now it is time to put these activities or actions into words and separate them into four categories. Write one action/piece of paper. Take time and write as much as you can until you (or/and the members of the group) cover the floor.

Follow this colour code:

Joy in life

Stress in life

Joy in academia

Stress in academia

  1. Compose a collage-carpet with the pieces of paper, organising them randomly. Try to combine the colours. Stick them on the floor using wide tape
  1. Time to play TWISTER. Follow this link or QR code and spin the roulette.

https://wheelofnames.com/byh-5qu

First, play all together and enjoy moving your body on the carpet!

  1. Collectively, try to combine two different boxes, linking joy with stress and finding joyful, absurd, ridiculous, bizarre, impossible, non-sensical connections. Don’t be afraid and free your imagination!

Write down all the ideas and create a manifesto.

 

First prototype in the context of Wild Bodies, July 2022

(Home of Performance Practices—ArtEZ University of the Arts)

Collective Manifesto: Propositions on How to Bring JOY Inside the University

-The fissure or Gab’s work: breaking the triad capitalism, colonialism, white supremacy

-To prioritise the craft or whatever you love

– To perform the expectations as student or professor

– To make expectations fit your destination

– Fuck the deadlines, let’s eat ice-cream

– Make space for ice-cream in your everyday life

– Wild dance inside of academia

– Stream of cooking and improvisation of recipes 

– To share a simple recipe.  Simplicity is the new mantra

– To break ocular regime using a fog machine

– To write the lyrics of songs instead of essays

– Collaboration

– Slow time together. Destabilising the running of time

Ryan O'Shea

Ryan O’Shea is a queer theatre maker based in Arnhem, Netherlands. Mixing iconography and small-scale spectacle, his projects are multi-layered, aesthetically sharp and physically driven, and often set in ambiguous, abstract worlds permeated with a feeling of otherness. He is part of Anglo-Belgian theatre collective Reckless Sleepers and regularly works as a technician, dramaturg, performer and deviser. He cut his teeth at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Contemporary Theatre and Performance degree and is currently studying an M.A. degree at Home of Performance Practices at ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem.