AFLYST: Tobias Dias: The University as a Work of Art
All are welcome to Aesthetic Seminar
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Kasernen, Langelandsgade 139, 8000 Aarhus C. Building 1584, Door B, Room 124
Working and living amidst the daily disasters of the neoliberal university, it is tempting to look at the history of artist-led university projects as emancipatory escape routes to the “edu-factory” of academic capitalism. From Joseph Beuys’ iconic Free International University in the 1970s to more recent cases such as Copenhagen Free University (2001-08) or The Silent University (2011-), artists have long experimented with constructing institutional infrastructures for free, collective, and creative education and research. This has been particularly manifest since contemporary art’s so-called “educational turn”. In this talk, I will revisit the history and present of alter-university projects. Why has the university remained a pivotal point of attraction for socially engaged artists? What does the university have that artists and activists want? And not least: to what extent can the artist-led universities be seen as models for a new or future university? Rather than simple utopian “solutions” or a kind of aesthetic Ersatzpolitik, I will discuss how some of the cases can be seen as contradictory “formal” refusals of the “prison house of knowledge”. In an age in which knowledge is primarily seen as a private and financial asset, sanctioned by the authority and infrastructure of the university, the history and present of artistic alter-universities delineate a living archive of practices distributing, propagating, and organizing knowledge otherwise.
Tobias Dias is a postdoctoral researcher in Art History at Aarhus University. He is currently working on the project A Nameless Science: Art, Expertise, and Infrastructure, funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. His writings have appeared in journals and magazines like e-flux journal, Art-Agenda, Texte zur Kunst, Periskop, ARKEN Bulletin, and in several anthologies. He is currently completing a book manuscript on the prehistory of “artistic research”. He is also a member of the extra-disciplinary collective Organ of the Autonomous Sciences.
Aesthetic Seminar F-2023 is organised by Bodil Marie Stavning Thomsen and Morten Kyndrup on behalf of School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University.