July 20, 2015

Hey! Teachers! Leave Them Kids Alone! Art Hopping at the UdK and Weissensee Kunsthochschule

First year students' show at UdK

I visited the art schools this weekend to see what is coming up. Saturday evening I was at Universität der Kunste where a few studios were closed as a protest against the university’s exploitation of guest professors with temporary contracts and low fees. No wonder, this has been going on for years in Germany. I once taught a seminar at the equally famous Humboldt University and got 800 Euros on my account after one semester. (26 hours of teaching, correcting the assignments and preparations not included). I was actually the lucky one because most lecturers don’t get paid at all in Germany. You would think it’s illegal but, apparently, it’s not. It’s the regime of economizing in a rich country, of “the belt being tightened” in education and culture. Strange anti-intellectualism also in a country where nothing is more important than having a title (that’s why a few in politics fake them, to get higher faster). 

First year students' show at UdK

But to return to the arts: I must say that I only liked the exhibitions of the first-year students. Somehow they were fresh, they had a certain dynamic and playfulness to it. I walked through it sensing that it had been fun, that first year. There was even a spirit of communication going on. All this seemed to die off when coming to the following years, where the imprint of the professor became much more obvious. Teaching isn't about making clones of yourself, is it? The set-up in these classes also lacked a certain flow between the art works, as if one was breathing in individualism. So it seems that those first-years better leave school before it’s too late... Or does that undermine my argument on the importance of education or is it rather the consequence of that educational cul-de-sac described above

Nice installation by first-year student Lisa Hoffmann

I visited also the show of the Meisterschüler of Weissensee Kunsthochschule. It took place in the Kühlhaus near Gleisdreieck - a great location and that’s, unfortunately, all there is to say. Looking at all this I wonder where the thinking is left behind. Yeah, remember, that thinking in art that makes a difference - that transformation of an idea into a form? Or what, at least, about some urgency? Or if that doesn’t work, what about some borrowed importance of things that matter in our society? Nothing of all that, I didn’t see it. Making a joke isn’t good enough, working with a material isn’t good enough either, and in the end it has to take on some form, people, some... you know... some beauty?

somehow mesmerising video/sound piece by first-year student Nicolas Spitzer

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