The cross-disciplinary alliance We Cannot Work Like This: Decolonial Practices and Degrowth brings together several departments of academies and universities in the region in Belgium, France, England, and Hong Kong, and enables that students work together in each of their schools on a proposal for sustainable, decolonial and inclusive practices in relation to, on one hand, cultural institutions, and on the other, their own professions (artistic, architectural, design or research-related). The students are invited to look at sustainability through the self-reflexive, intersectional feminist, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist lens. The participating professors prepare a joint curriculum and discuss it with the students in each of their schools. The aim of this alliance is that it stirs interest in the creation of a legal document or charter that would promote sustainable and decolonial practices for the institutions and for the practitioners themselves.
Members of the Transnational Alliance are HISK (Ghent), Department of Architecture, Hong Kong University (Hong Kong), St. Lucas School of Arts (Antwerp), School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art (London), Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Antwerpen), Thomas More University (Mechelen), Ecole de recherche graphique (Brussels), Ecole européenne supérieure d’art de Bretagne (Rennes), Open Design for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, KASK (Ghent).
The Open design Course for refugees and asylum seekers is an educational platform based on peer to peer learning and co-creation taking place at KASK, Ghent. The 2018 generation of participants invite you to a speculative presentation of the course, as well as to imagine a post O.D.C future. Taking the next step, the POST COLLECTIVE grew out of the 2018 version of the course. It continues to try to develop possibilities for co-learning and co-working directed towards the building of a sustainable and collaborative environment for its participants, regardless of their legal status. The handout provided today explains some of the goals and aspirations of The Post Collective.
The Open Design Course began in 2016 by the initiative of Bram Crevits. This initiative was approached as a way of trying to formulate an answer to some urgent needs: but mainly as a way to offer support for an unseen influx of people fleeing war and seeking refuge in Europe. Due to regulations of higher education it was (and still is) almost impossible for most of these refugees to start or to continue their studies as ‘regular students’ within the Belgian education system. The ODC initiative is intended to create a space within KASK, where it is possible to bypass the technical/administrative restrictions, to welcome refugees and asylum seekers, and provide them with a high-quality learning context.
As well as being a specific initiative taken for refugees and asylum seekers the course reflects the broader project of rethinking education and which is something that the ODC team is working towards and actively involved. The perspectives and motives that were behind the setting up of ODC are closely intertwined forms of dissatisfaction with education / or higher education. For it was felt that higher education is mainly organized to further sustain and reproduce this system, by mainly focusing on ‘innovation’; in order to further support a logic of endless economic growth. This is not only about pedagogy and content, but also the way higher education is governed and financed. In the same way, art education (and even art in general) is not immune to this logic of reproducing a failing system. But here some hope is possible – as a way of offering unique opportunities to fight or overcome such failings. Bram Crevits and the team that continues now ODC believes that there was an urgent need for a type of education that brings together different voices from different fields and that might be used towards activating change within society generally. Bram Crevits wrote about the origins of ODC: “It was thought that a school can and should be an open tool for society. Schools should resist by all means to reproduce the system we feel trapped in, i.e. by what they focus on and by the way they organize themselves.” Bram also stated “But as long as we can overcome our fixation on the identity of the artist, and on what art has been or should be, institutes of higher art education could be the ideal context for this -combining theory and practice. Critique and creativity. Creation and reflection. Art education should challenge itself and urgently needs to re-invent itself.
To activate as much as possible what art education is good at being a place of creation, of imagination, of constructive experimentation… but at the same time a place of resistance and of dialogue. To further activate art as the collective conscience of our society. And what is needed now is not a silent conscience, but a highly engaged conscience ….”