By writing a fictional story about a place called I want to take the opportunity to question the role of utopian thinking within self-organised, (non-)institutional art education. The suggestions on how art can be taught best easily blur the line between reality and fantasy and enables a different realm of understanding and existence. It enables us to enter a non-space, a space of emplacement, the utopian space.

I will take the reader on a guided tour through the imagined structure of The Department Of A Playful Beginning, The Department Of Social Dreamers and The Department Of Conflict. These departments are explored throughout the stories of several students and their reflection on topics such as play, collectivity and plea for conflict.



Currently, you find yourself present at .

In your hand, you should find a copy of this handout and a tiny mirror.

We invite you to look into this mirror. While you are holding the mirror, the place you are in could be a mirror as well. It’s a reflection of yourself or of others. It’s a place in which you can position yourself. It could be an unreal, virtual space, that opens up behind the surface; an impossible place, yet you can see yourself there. But you are not there, and your absence from this place invites you to see where you are not. The mirror is your shadow, your personal view within the space you are in, or at least could be in.

You can choose which mirror to look at... The tiny one you’re holding in your hands, or the bigger one, the one you are now standing in.

Welcome, we invite you to join your space.


The department of a playful beginning

Chapter one—Anni

As she came out of the toilet she had to climb over a little bench in order to meet John. Obstacles could be found everywhere, the felt like one big playground. John was waiting for her on the other side of the hallway, on a little bench in the corner. He seemed like a nice guy; very energetic, a bit too much even. He took her hand and dragged her through the hallway.

She felt like she just started some sort of game in which they had to see the most places in the least time. John was almost running and hard to keep track off after just arriving at the academy from a long way of travelling. They passed a few doors with signs on them; one said Copy Only, another one Silent Room and another one Place in the… she wasn’t able to read the last sign on the door as they passed. John was so energised; before she knew it they found themselves outside of the building. He pointed to the lake in front of them and told her the floating courtyard could be found in there. The days were short and it was already getting a bit darker which made it too hard to see what John was pointing at. She could vaguely see a round building at the centre of the lake. She had heard about the floating courtyard before, in order to get there, you have to balance over small wooden panels. She didn’t have enough time to figure out more; John wanted to show her some other places on campus. He took her hand and they walked towards a small tipi next to a tree.

“This here, this is The Place Where You Can Call Your Mum!”. The tipi was quite small but almost as high as the tree next to it, covering the top of the tipi with its branches. As they walked around it she noticed a small plastic window that gave her a chance to peek inside. In the middle of the tent was a small, red pillow, underneath the stick that supported the tent. She could vaguely see the interior fabric, which seemed to be covered fully with doodles and notes. Next to the pillow laid an iPhone. She walked to the front of the tipi and as she pushed the fabric aside she stepped into it. It smelt like an old dishcloth, she shivered and tried to hold her breath. The doodles on the fabrics were still no easier to read from the inside; the whole tent was covered with small notes layer upon each other. As she took a closer look at the phone next to the pillow she noticed something engraved on it: ‘enchanting ideology’. She wanted to pick the phone up but it seemed to be stuck to the wooden panel. She couldn’t pick it up.

John entered the tipi behind her and laughed:

“Just unlock the phone, it’s glued onto the panels”.

Annie pushed the home button and unlocked the iPhone. She saw a white background and two applications: the camera function and its corresponding library. She clicked on the library and opened the album ‘free time’. Photos of people running around in a park, playing with dogs and children, being on holiday, watching a movie with friends or having a barbecue in a garden were displayed. She was confused and tried to find her own answers for the tipi, the doodles, the phone and the pictures. She wondered if she needed an answer and if she did, what kind of question she should ask to get one.

“Am I only allowed to call my mum in this place?”, she asked John. He stood up and walked around her and laughed.

“You know, he said, while taking her hand to support her getting up, “sometimes you don’t need to be given certain instructions. Think about it! Don’t take it so seriously. Look around, where are you, Anni?”

She was still confused, but couldn’t find the right words for it. He didn’t wait for an answer, maybe he didn’t expect to get one, she realised, as he took her hand and dragged her along. Away from the tipi she wanted to explore furthermore.

Chapter two—John
John finds himself on the outskirts of the . He feels tired and looks at his watch, he ran for almost fifty minutes. While catching his breath John looks around and realises that he ran a long way from campus. Instead of going left at the Place Where You Can Call Your Mom Tipi he went right, ran around the floating courtyard and passed the gallery, which he never passes normally. It’s his first time here. It’s the first time, actually, that he sees the border of the campus. It looks rather depressing. John is surrounded by broken containers and some discarded metal sculptures that are piled up next to a tree. He wants to enjoy the view, sit back and listen to the wind passing the forgotten sculptures, but his thoughts are distracting him.

As he sits down he thinks about Sekula’s class. He looks around.

“Maybe Sekula didn’t talk about a factory far away”, he thinks.

“Maybe I am the one that’s been asked to make a perfect fabrication.” Now, on the edge of campus, of the so-called ‘no man factory’ Sekula described, he can’t stop thinking about escape. He doesn’t want to be a factory worker. He didn’t come here to become an automatised being. John looks at his hands and with his right thumb, he follows the lines on his left hand. The thick line in the middle, the second from left, slightly curved. He likes the curve, it resembles him. This is the route he wants to follow. This is how his life is going to be. His thumb stops at the end. This is where the route splits, the point where you can go either left or right. Which one should he pick? Where should he go? He only knows he is sure of one thing; these hands are not made to do automatic work with.

He stands up and walks to the pile with the broken and forgotten sculptures. As he picks up a piece in front of the pile he wonders what it could’ve looked like. It’s unclear what the piece used to be before it was thrown on the pile in front of him. He looks at it for a few minutes, notices the forms creating a human shape as two bent sticks are dangling on a rake in the middle. He recognises human ribs in this rake. Furthermore, he recognises something that might have been an arm. While looking around, he tries to look for answers and if he can possibly find a head laying around, but there’s is no head to be found. He throws the sculpture back on the pile and realises that his imagination can be wrong. The fact that he finds this sculpture, here, thrown on a pile, reminds him that he could’ve been wrong all the time.

He takes the broken piece with him, sits down on a bent tree and takes the handout, given to him a few years ago, out of his pocket. He wants to reread the handout and notices an underlined sentence: 'But you are not there, and your absence from this place invites you to see where you are not...' When he looks up after reading the handout he sees that it’s getting darker. He takes out his notebook, tries to imagine what the forgotten sculpture in front of him must’ve looked like and starts sketching. Next, he takes out his knife from his small travel bag. He looks around to find a perfect tree to engrave his thoughts in.

“I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art”, he engraves.

“I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art”, h⁠e keeps engraving the same sentences over and over until it becomes too dark to continue.


The department of Social Dreaming

Chapter one—Cedric
“Is this a lecture or performance?” Nelly asks Cedric.

“I think we should just wait for it to end.”, Cedric replies while drinking from his coffee.

“When are you going to change your shirt?" Nelly added. Cedric was wearing his 'Goodbye, Utopia shirt for over a week now. He mumbled that he would change his shirt if she finally would stop looking at her bellybutton. She recently pierced her belly button just to have a realisesson to look at it.

“But you know I want to, it’s cute.” Cedric looks at her while she is trying to look into the tiny mirror which is hanging from her belly button ring.

“You’re so weird", he says.

They watch Sekula entering the Copy Room walking to the front where he installs himself on a big chair in-between two printers. With both arms he leans on top of them. The two copy machines have a sign on them saying ‘this machine is defect’.

“Welcome,” he says. Cedric notices that the room is too packed and unsuited for this many students that came to see the lecture.

“I want to tell you something about a factory.”, Sekula continues.

“There used to be a factory called the No Men factory. It was located somewhere south of here, some time ago. In this factory people weren’t people, they were machines. They were taught to make something perfect together. Something perfect according to the supervisor. What was this perfect fabrication? Every year the machines made something together they found the most perfect. The supervisor didn’t agree. It was never perfect enough. After five years the unspecified demand of a perfect fabrication was still not delivered. And after ten years of suggesting, trying, adjusting to the supervisor’s demand, nothing even close to perfect was produced.”

Sekula interrupts his own story, turns around and starts pressing the print button on the copy machines behind him. First the left one, then the right one. He keeps on repeating this action. The copy machine starts printing something. Cedric can’t figure out what’s being printed. The pages seem almost blank, although it looks like there’s a small text in the corner. As Cedric tries to get a glimpse of what’s on the paper Sekula starts pressing both buttons at the same time now. The copy machine is running high and spitting out papers.

“What’s happening?”, Nelly asks Cedric.

“I really don’t know.”

Sekula seems not to be bothered by wondering faces and ignorantly keeps pushing the buttons of the copy machine in front of him.

Nothing happens for a while now. As the printer keeps printing, Cedric and Nelly look at each other confused. Then, suddenly, Sekula turns around and starts screaming at the audience:


No one replies, no one can figure out what is happening. Sekula stops pushing the buttons and with his back still turned to the audience he whispers,"everybody should stop copying", as the printer blows out its last breath.

Nelly stands up and walks towards Sekula. She takes out the pile of paper from the tray and reads out loud:

“Are you serving your own interests?” She chuckles.

“Well, are you?” Nelly looks at Sekula while throwing away all the papers from the tray. The papers spread all over the room, falling on people, some even fly out of the windows. Cedric notices that Sekula didn’t expect someone like Nelly to be in the class today.

Cedric could feel a tension, a misunderstanding and somehow fear in the copy room. The same room in which he is always just copying something. He never thought the room could be something else. The room shifted, it shifted into becoming the factory Sekula just described.

People start mumbling and asking each other questions of what just happened. Was this all part of one big lecture? Cedric realises that he is the one that should save Nelly, still standing uncomfortably in front of Sekula, possibly doubting her impulsive action and asks:

“Sekula, is this a lecture or a performance?”

“Sometimes, you should find your own answers, think for yourself.”, he answers on which Nelly turns around to the class and adds:

“Well guys, I think it’s a performance.” She sits down and starts looking at her belly button again.

“Or just get a tiny mirror like this one, hanging on your belly button”, she whispers and looks up at Cedric.

Chapter two—Marina
She lit her joint while she wandered around; they were late. Every week they would meet up here, smoke a joint and then take the boat to the floating gardens where they would talk about their projects until they figured them out. Marina grew her own weed in one of the gardens in the , so she had enough to share with everyone and enough to come up with ideas.

Her lighter was almost empty; she had to keep shaking it in order to get it to produce even the smallest of flames. When it finally worked, she puffed and looked at the water. The moon was reflected in the lake and the trees on the other side were waving at her. She smiled and thought it was cute that the trees were waving at her. She waved back, but this only emphasised her feeling of being alone. Where could the others be?

She fell down on her back in the grass and looked at the stars. She could design the stars, she thought. She could scan them with her brains right now, one by one, and then with the help of her own memory replace them in Photoshop. She could then remake the stars in whatever way she wanted them to look. They could even be a different shape. Maybe not the traditional shape of a star; do stars actually look star-shaped from close-up?

“Why are we always drawing stars in this pointy way?”, she wondered and realised; if the stars could be pointy in people’s imagination, she could be also different than expected. She could be any shape she wanted to be; a designer, a dreamer, a speaker or writer and maybe even a dancer as well.

She remembered the little mirror she got when entering the and which she carried around, on a necklace. She took it out of her shirt and looked inside. It was too dark to see herself. She searched for some stars in the reflection. The stars seemed shinier in the mirror. She realised that if the stars can be more shiny and pointy in people’s drawings or in her mirror, she could be that too. She felt she could be everything here, in . That was the beautify of this place, she could be a square; or even a circle. She could be every shape floating in the universe among all the others. She realised she would rather be a circle than a square; she would rather be a shiny star than a pointy one.

While sitting up straight she wondered what time it was. She never knew the time, she didn’t think it was important. Time was an abstract thing here, some people still used it, others looked at the moon or the stars, like her. Some of them were always annoyed at her for being late. But today she was early, she knew she left exactly on time. Wandering over the lake, quickly waving at the same tree again, her eyes captured the little dock on the left. It was empty, the boat already left. She laid back down in the grass and took out her phone to check the time. Of course. They weren’t late. She was.


The Department of Conflict

Chapter one—Chantal
Chantal was laying on the floor in the hallway of the department. It was chilly, especially on the cool stone tiles of the floor.

The class was taught by Kate and Stefan. When she started studying and teaching here in she arrived at the campus with both of them. He gave her a picture of a small boat. They talked for hours about how they arrived here. Apparently, it took them forever to paddle to their so-called ‘new world’. They wanted to find this new world throughout their practice, they told her. A new world in which no one will have nightmares any longer. They were hoping to find it here, in this place.

She thought it was rather funny. Mostly because she didn’t feel like she found her place yet, even after all those years. She was still hoping for the best to come.

Kate and Stefan asked them to repeatedly say:

“I’m an object.” She took a breath, trying to become more focused and serious about the class, but wasn’t really able to do so.

After a few minutes, they were asked to name certain objects that popped up in their minds. Objects they could be, here, in this place, in our academy, now in this time and environment. Everybody started mumbling all kinds of different objects. Most objects you could find around in the space they were in. The hallway was full of unfinished projects, 3D prints, a big roll of toilet paper, some parts of a Finnish sauna, broken glasses in an empty hot tub, beer cans next to it and so on.

People started mumblingwords as ‘emergency sign’, ‘rusty kettle’, ‘old cookie’. Everything else they could see around them. She thought the class was failing. Again, she was incredibly bored. Not only because she didn’t feel connected to the method but more because she felt everyone was just following orders, without any creative output.

‘I’m a box full of chocolates!’, the girl next to her said. She had to laugh.

They were told to listen to their breathing. As Kate walked by she touched everyone’s forehead for a moment. When she came over to Chantal she did the same.

“Just let go, you can do everything you want here.” She couldn’t take it seriously, she began to laugh even louder. She had to laugh about the whole situation she kept putting herself in. Trying to provoke herself, by challenging herself into lame classes that didn’t bring her anywhere.

She wanted to get angry at the stupid nothingness box girl, she wanted to provoke her and hurt her feelings. She wanted to feel fear. She wanted to feel less free in order to feel free again. She couldn’t stop laughing.

After a few minutes, she realised she was free to go wherever. She didn’t see the purpose in this course, so why follow it? She left the room. She left the room unhealed nor as a box full of chocolates.

Chapter two—Sheila
Sheila was wearing her mom’s dress. A silky dark blue one, just long enough to cover her ass. She was about to go to the fancy dress party in the which was inside the gallery, behind the floating courtyard. She heard someone saying there would be an after party too.

She opened her laptop to send her essay on time and closed it again after pressing send and looked into her mirror. Maybe she needed some make-up, she thought and opened her make-up box. She barely opened this box her sister had given to her last Christmas. She never really understood makeup and why she should use it but also really didn’t know how to. She opened her laptop again to watch a tutorial called ‘FULL COVERAGE GLAM MAKEUP TUTORIAL’ and followed the instructions. Her skin looked surprisingly more smooth and after applying some glitter to top it off she felt stunning and ready to leave. She jumped into her black leather boots and put on her coat.

She wasn’t fashionably late, fortunately, she wasn’t unfashionably early either. She put her coat on a pile next to the door at the entrance of the and looked for the drinks table. First a beer, she thought. Then she turned around she walked into John and two friends. He hugged her and introduced her to his friend Cedric and Fritz.

“Hey guys, I hope you can get along, we need to call the dealer now.” He and Cedric turned around and left her alone with Fritz.

Fritz was wearing a shirt that said Goodbye, utopia. He was holding a mug on which ‘I’m never going to dance again’ was written.

“Why aren’t you ever going to dance again?“, she asked him.

“Well, it’s the end of the story, you know”, he answered.

She wanted to tell him that she didn’t know, she didn’t understand what story he was talking about, but he interrupted her:

“Want to get some beer?” She nodded and they walked towards the beer table in the corner.

Several hours later, and several drinks into the night, Sheila asked Fritz about his shirt and mug again. He had made them both in collaboration with Cedric for a project about synergy; he wanted to stimulate collaboration. According to them, there was too much individual focus; collaboration was failing, yet it was the answer to it all. He told Sheila he was working on a project with Cedric to make the school a better place and to suggest a new system. He wasn’t going to dance until the project was realised. By protesting the one and only thing he really loved to do, dancing, he wanted everyone to realize how he felt: too much of an individual.

A girl started dancing and Sheila noticed Fritz getting distracted. There was nothing to blame him for: she was beautiful; she was completely covered in silver glitter, no wonder why he had a thing for her.

“You won’t even dance with her?” She asked him.

Fritz looked at the girl, “Oh you mean Tania.” Without answering her question he put his hand in his pocket and took out some pills. The pills were all different colours. Some of them were imprinted with small logos of cats and dogs. He handed Sheila an orange one with a cat on it, swallowed his green imprinted dog pill with some beer and then laughed. He looked at the girl next to them again. After thirty minutes of shallow, distracted conversation Fritz told Sheila he needed to go. He said goodbye and walked over to the girl next to them. She started to dance around him. He stood there, still, not moving a bone. Sheila walked over to the table to get a new beer, swallowed her pill and turned around again. There she saw him; it didn’t take Fritz long to start dancing again.


In my last dream, I dreamed about an art academy. For an uncertain amount of time, I studied in this rather vague structure. As I was walking around with a poster in my hand I noticed that there were no walls. There were no walls to hang my poster on. The building was an open structure, people were openly discussing, talking and making. A woman walked towards me and asked the question: “Are you singing your own melody?”. I couldn’t sing, I couldn’t even speak. Words were kept in my mouth because my lips felt glued together. I wanted to scream for help, but I couldn’t even move my lips. As the woman stood there waiting for her answer, I turned around. I walked away from her, from the building without walls. I kept walking and the further I went the more my mouth began to relax. I felt my lips softening and opening again. I continued walking away from the building without the walls and as I did, I sang my melodies.

The utopian space is open for interpretation, imagination and reflection in which we can create our own ideology. To think in a utopian way is a political act. It involves a refusal to be limited by our current preoccupation with the here and now, in this case, art education, in order to focus on society as it could and maybe should be.

Structures such as art schools are shaped by these utopian ideas; places where a potential community can form and freedom can be glimpsed, like subcultures. Glimpses of these utopian ideas can be found in every image and aesthetic around us like architecture, art, advertising and social media. The striking characteristic of these non-places can be described partially by words and text like objects such as maps, guides, warnings, signs, screens and posters: we are informed of what we are missing. And while being aware of this we play and question the intertwining idea of this utopia or dystopia, shifting from one to the other.

In art school, designers and artists are being educated in becoming aware of these ideologies by constantly looking in the mirror, the place in which you can position yourself in but in which you are not. We are reflective of the society we’re in and this can result in utopian projects about beautification, escapism and enchantment.

Therefore we also need to remind ourselves not to only look inside our mirror, but also outside of it. The place in which we are now. Ideology is simply a reflection of the structure we find ourselves in and can only create other ideologies.

This brings us back to questioning the role of utopian thinking in the design of art education. Whether the structure will be institutionalised, self-organised or funded, the ideology will never question itself and in all cases, we will still be inside a given structure.

In other words, instead of creating the other space, outside of the current one, we can take in the one in which we are now. Instead of creating an alternative, enchanted ideological education system, outside of the institutional one, we can stay here: The Art Academy. We must first delve into every problematic aspect of art education and practice in order to counteract them.

Eventually, by taking a closer look, we create a new space. We create a new perspective and position in the space we were already in. And by taking out our mirrors, by looking in and outside of the mirror we’re holding we find a space in which rules could be different, tangled and then made clear as contradictions.

and the enchantment of the tiny mirror.
Thesis by Esther Vane
2019, The Hague, The Netherlands

Thank you:
Dirk Vis, Merel Boers, Jan Robert Leegte, Silvio Lorusso, Benjamin Earl, Jack Bardwell and Lukas Engelhardt.

Anni Albers was a textile and printmaker questioning and blurring the lines between traditional arts and craft. Anni studied at the most influential art academies of western history: The Bauhaus (1919) and it focuses on teaching through engagement and understanding of materials and crafts. Followed up by here studies at the Black Mountain College, in North Carolina (1933) questioning its learning process and what an art school or social life rather shouldn’t be. There was no certain answer to it, though to question this, with a set of ideas, could be the answer itself. In the college curriculum, degrees, hierarchy and diploma’s were being questioned. Anni and her husband moved together to the Black Mountain College were Anni continued her abstract weavings. In 1941, Anni wrote a text in which she argued that art should have a ‘playful beginning, unresponsive to any demand of usefulness, an enjoyment of colours, forms and surface contrasts and harmonies – a tactile sensuousness’.

Anni Albers was a textile and printmaker questioning and blurring the lines between traditional arts and craft. She studied at the most influential art academies of western history: The Bauhaus (1919) and it focuses on teaching through engagement and understanding of materials and crafts. Followed up by here studies at the Black Mountain College, in North Carolina (1933) questioning its learning process and what an art school or social life rather shouldn’t be. There was no certain answer to it, though to question this, with a set of ideas, could be the answer itself. In the college curriculum, degrees, hierarchy and diploma’s were being questioned. Anni and her husband moved together to the Black Mountain College were Anni continued her abstract weavings. In 1941, Anni wrote a text in which she argued that art should have a "playful beginning, unresponsive to any demand of usefulness, an enjoyment of colours, forms and surface contrasts and harmonies – a tactile sensuousness".

John Baldessari works with pre-existing images, distorts them, collaging or cropping, blocking out faces with coloured dots; all to question what an image actually is. Once, John wasn’t able to travel to his class in the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Canada because there wasn’t enough money. He proposed to the students to write “I’ll Not Make Any More Boring Art"on the walls of the gallery. Imitating punishment in schools by writing down the same sentence over and over again to realize your mistake. Giving instructions to students from far away, not able to be present, he enables the situation to raise questions about the role of the artists, autonomy, and authorship but also the role of a teacher.

In his essay about heterotopias, about the other space, Foucault talks about a ship. Floating on the sea constantly moving and changing locations. The ship, a reference to connect, trade and globalisation can also be an embodiment of our student position: we experience this exchange, the internationality and moving structure. The structure in which we study characterises the standardisation we experience. For example, in 1999 the Bologna Declaration was signed and consisted of how we know the education system now: three cycles of higher-education qualifications within a basic framework of ECTS credit points. This enabled, among positive effects like the introduction of being able to do internships or exchanges to other schools (like Erasmus Scholarships), the more questionable system of the ECTS' credit points. Higher education in Europe was, from then on, valued by a system consisting of these ECTS' credit points.

Cedric Price was an English architect and philosopher who developed the Fun Palace project in 1961, sounds fun, right? It actually didn’t develop in reality, though it was sketched out like a blueprint. Designed as a flexible framework into which programmable spaced can be plugged, the structure had the possibility of change. The never-realised project was a place for people to come together and celebrate the arts, science and culture. The manifesto, which Cedric Price wrote to John Littlewood in 1961 reads: “We believe in the genius in everyone, in everyone an artist and everyone a scientist, and that creativity in a community can change the world for the better. We believe we can do this together, locally, with radical fun – and that anyone, anywhere, can make a Fun Palace.”

In 1978 the photographer and teacher Allan Sekula expressed his concerns about the school system in an installation at a Community College in Southern California. It featured 10 framed photographs showing drawings of money, factories and school buildings as well as a 1916 quote by the educator Elwood Cubberly: “Our schools are, in a sense, factories in which the raw materials are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life. The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of the twentieth-century civilization, and it is the business of the school to build its pupils to the specifications laid down.”

Nelly Ben Hayoun is the director of the University of the Underground, a new postgraduate course created by dreamers of the day founded in 2017. They want to form critical thinkers through the use of creative, experiential and radical design that, according to the university, our world needs these days. The University of the Underground is one out of many experiments in alternative education among other schools such as Frits Haeg’s Sundown Schoolhouse and the Parallel School (later more). The UUG is planning on running the university for 100 years, tuition-free, emphasising free will, manufacturing counterculture and public engagement. Ideally, 80 percent of the tuition fees are subsidised by charities and donations, the remaining 20 per cent by state funding. Currently, the Dutch government supports up to 50 per cent of the university. The UUG provides a two-year MA program (MA Design of Experiences) in collaboration with the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. A group of Sandberg students responded to this collaboration with an open letter concerning the issue of the funded free education developing in “direct privatisation”, the accompanying branding and the lack of transparency regarding the role of Sandberg’s critical reputation. The letter concerned the lack of student representation unofficial decision making, such as hosting a course emerged with the UUG which has intentions to spread it’s model worldwide (and therefore dispatching total state defunding of art education). But also concerning the use of language which is too powerful and consists of radical terminology. Using the term ‘Underground’ as a counterculture is misleading since the UUG is funded by multiple corporations via charity. Using the term Philanthropist for companies such as WeTransfer are according to the students also a misleading and false term to use. “In this particular case, these concerns need addressing with the course directors, but moving forward we would like to prevent any similar problems arising.”

Marina Abramovic is a video and performance artist who recently (2015) started her own non-profit institute: the MAI (Marina Abramovic Institute). Focussing on spreading her unconditional knowledge she wants to guide students because according to her it’s important for students to have a great teacher and spiritual leader, like herself. The institute is founded to cultivate new kinds of performance while functioning as a living archive. Abramovic raised a lot of money for the project, which she cancelled in 2017, raising the question: what happened with the supporting funds donated by thousands of people on Kickstarter. She will sell the building now. She has accepted that an institute for immaterial art can itself be immaterial: “Whenever institution invites us (to exhibit), we do the work (there),” she said. “Don’t come to us, we’ll come to you.” The ongoing workshop called ‘Cleaning the House’ that Abramovic set up in Greece but is not attending nor teaching herself, is a workshop which people have to refrain from eating and speaking: an artist should look deep inside himself, so the more universal he becomes.

Stefan Ruitenbeek and Kate Sinha are Dutch artists that are performing art criticism on their Youtube Channel KIRAC (Keeping it Real Art Critics). Sinha’s argument in the Post Online on Zanele Muholi’s exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: “The visitor was expected to be interested in the sloppiness of this spoiled brat, just because she is from South-Africa, lesbian and black.” Next, Sinha explained her view upon the #MeToo discussion in which she stated that there’s a connection between attraction and the fear of violence. This caused some discussion, especially after Stefan and Kate were invited to give a talk at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Many students e-mailed the academy in which they asked to cancel the talk. The board of the academy stated they wanted to keep the academy a safe place for everyone and cancelled the talk; this caused a big discussion about censorship in the art academy. The couple announced that they would come and visit the academy to hold a discussion, which they did. Eventually, an open discussion was held in the academy.

Chantal Mouffe is a political theorist who pleas for conflict. She claims that institutional critique is best accomplished from within. Only by engaging within institutions it is possible to express disagreement and so come up with alternative solutions. She promotes the idea of the agonistic spaces based on her concept of conflict and agonistic pluralism. According to her, conflict is the very basics for decision-making in politics. Active hostility is not an obstacle: it ultimately brings people together. Based on her theory the Parallel School (a free education model based on the simple principle of "each one, teach one", has flatter hierarchies and more experimentation in Lausanne, Leipzig, Cali, Brno and Berlin) came up with a workshop on these agonistic spaces. The Parallel School created awareness by creating a new space within the Glasgow School of Art to question the current education system and look for possible alternatives. They occupied the school by putting up barriers and other obstacles, came together and through this conflict they created a discussion.

Sheila Levrant de Bretteville is a graphic designer who has fought for feminist voices in graphic design and was an important influential teacher in the CalArts Academy. Sheila focussed on equality within the design field and in 1973 she and Arlene Raven named their newly established program the Feminist Studio Workshop (FSW): the first independent school for women artists, which later became the Woman’s Building in downtown Los Angeles, CalArts. Sheila guided her students through the teaching pedagogy of educator and philosopher Paulo Freire; teaching could be a horizontal exchange of information.⁠

For almost twenty years Fritz Haeg has been organising a series of projects called Sundown Salons in which he would organise informal meet-ups, dance and yoga sessions, artists talks in his geodesic dome in Los Angeles with the aim to realise a space in which everyone has a voice and can gather. “We may be irritants, activists, problem solvers, catalysts, poets, or simply witnesses. We want to look head-on as our natural and urban environments gradually deteriorate around us. We want to invert the power structure as design and the arts are co-opted as tools for marketing.” In 2006 the Sundown Schoolhouse shifted its focus to the meaningfulness of physical connection: Haeg invites the urban inhabitant to join the natural environments and to teach them about the interconnectivity of people and their environment.

Tania Brugera, who is a Cuban performance and installation artist who started the Catedra Arta de Conducta in Havana (English: the school of behaviour arts) in 2002. It’s a play on words, referring to one of Tania’s first jobs in a behaviour unit in which criminal teenagers would do art activities lead by her. She wanted to create something permanent, something for active citizens. According to her, every artist should be an active citizen. In her family home, Havana centre, she hosted the school, curated in such a way that each week’s speaker would contradict the previous one. Through this, she was hoping to shift the school’s perspective on a weekly basis. “I wanted to create a space for freedom in Cuba, where I could start a discussion about how art can be political. To all of this, I wanted to make sure it was understood as a school.”