Evaluating the AAC and others, What is our context?
…The AAC mainly functions as a blog to discuss and disseminate education critiques as its original physicality no longer exists. The AAC was created to discuss how to resist the consumerist style towards knowledge production. What gives pertinence to the AAC’s existence is its original functionality and how it spoke from both within and outside the institution. It was created as an Art practice whilst I completed my Undergraduate degree at the University of Lincoln. The purpose was to communicate personal frustration whilst being inside the institution alongside a process of using an art practice for educational experiment. The AAC functioned from the living rooms of multiple student houses (figure 7) for 3 months offering lectures, seminars workshops with artists, professors and students (figure 8 and figure 9). This process of holding all events outside of the institution was a conscious decision to see if finding a neutralised space would directly affect the learning process. The AAC’s main success came from not the actual happening of the events but the positioning it had within the institution. As mentioned before once something is accepted or recouped by the institution its ability to function politically is dissolved but in this instance the recouping never happened, it was accepted merely as an art product thus allowing it to continue to function in its original state. As it was labelled as an art practice, a student art practice, it developed a different form of legitimacy.
What the art element has allowed is the creation of a forum for discussion which can contradict and purposefully position itself differently dependent on its current space. As mentioned above, the original process was to hold all events outside of the institution whereas the last event in May 2012 took place within the walls of Goldsmiths. This is a massive contradiction in terms of the AAC’s definition of inside and outside, from one that says change only happens on the outside followed by the latter suggesting there is no outside. This is due to the positioning of the AAC, as an art practice it has the ability to mould to the surroundings it is situated in. The creation of it directly as an art practice was to function as a political catalyst to provoke reaction and conversation. The AAC’s arrival, which suggests there is no outside, mirror’s Professor Neary’s position regarding autonomous functionality both inside and outside of the institution.
Within the institution subversion works, it is not by confrontation but taking the content of the main stream and using it against themselves. I think there are no autonomous spaces as we are all part of the process; it is an imminent critique. It is from being inside the process to undermine the process.
For the AAC there is only an importance to define an inside or an outside if it is relevant to the context. In short the AAC functions neither on the inside or the outside but in whatever form is appropriate to its present moment.
The CFU locates itself in an art space that is nearly identical to the AAC, the principle difference being that it does not suggest it is an art practice. Both the CFU and the AAC formed in near exact scenarios as both initiated their discussions from the living rooms of private houses. What this offers is a clear example of a context that runs parallel in educational critiques from different scenarios, it suggests that even though the spaces when formed were unaware of each other there social and political surroundings created visible similarities. Looking back at Raunig’s interpretation of the new phase of institutional critique, this similarity is not a coincidence but simply due to the similar activist and artistic approaches taken by the two entities.
The CFU was formed by Henriette Heise and Jakob Jakobsen in May 2001 and ‘existed’ until 2007.
The university was in a way based on the fact that the economy is nowadays very often described as a knowledge economy […] if we’re living in a knowledge economy we would like to open a university which could valorise other kinds of knowledge that wouldn’t fit into that system.
In 2010 the CFU received a letter from the Danish government legislating that the term university was no longer applicable in their context as it legislated for only universities registered by the state. This automatically puts a question mark over the term ‘university’,
We were told that this was to protect ‘the students from being disappointed’. As we know numerous people who are disappointed by the structural changes to the educational sector in recent years, we have decided to contest this new clampdown by opening a new free university in Copenhagen. This forms part of our insistence that the emancipatory perspective of education should still be on the map.
The CFU produced a series of events, lectures and residencies that all had an imperative focus on the emancipation of education and knowledge from the suggested slavery of the institution. From this they developed debates around the conditions of the current knowledge economy and how aesthetics are treated as a social practice only for the public health.
The CFU’s focus was not to directly attack the HE sector but use its processes to create an anti-institution that functioned from their home. The private space became a haven for knowledge and learning that was not deemed economically sustainable specifically in Denmark. The CFU’s production of knowledge was never recuperated by an institution (HE, gallery and museum) if anything it was rejected. The Danish government abolished the CFU’s name because of its form and focus, it was not deemed a university because it did not offer the same physical and social norms offered by the instiutions that already function as a university. This eradication is not directly negative as the CFU had created something that challenged the Government to question its position what the word university represented and what learning processes are.
So what is the importance of the creation of an ‘acronym’? Is the importance to conceptualise a challenge of the present rather than something to stagnate like the present ?