Alternative Art College Questions Answered.

Hi Paul

Dear John
I recently contacted you about talking at the Alternative Art College event in May and now i am currently writing my MA diss on the ‘Autonomous education/learning space.I was wondering if you had time to answer briefly a few questions written below, It would be great to have your input.
The questions below are broad and provoking.
These questions require much longer answers than I can give. If you want to be involved with Higher Education Quality Assurance you must find a way to format these as multiple choice tick box questionnaires – only this kind of practice counts in the metrics-regime HE sector today.
I wish i had time to do this in person as it would have been a very
interesting conversation.Questions:

1. How do you feel you function within the institution? Is it possible  to function autonomously within an institution?

I joined the University system in order to maim it. OF course even this position is now totally in complicity with its afterlife – ie, a life after its already tragic-yet-welcomed demise.
2. When it comes to  the element of an art input do you feel it  enhances the production of ‘alternative’ learning or education
Art input is the path to complicity made palatable to those who think radical activity lies in the pretense of form and formlessness. The only thing radical in art is that it continually gets co-opted into Institutions, suggesting that there is perhaps – ever so maybe – something worth co-opting. This of course is its value, to capital, and it is a facade. No, worse, a charade. Perhaps a puppet show. Answer A.
3. If situated outside of the institution does it have a increased
autonomous position?
What is outside? Do you mean art? The autonomy of art is a faded inversion of its former subservience to power. Now it is mere decoration. The only radical artists are part time landscape gardeners working in the suburbs, never likely to be nominated for the Turner Prize. Is this what art can be. I think its best we have another look at Adorno’s great book ‘Aesthetic Theory’ – the question is still unresolved as to whether art remains the place of ‘a secret omnipresence of resistance’. Probably not.
4. In regards to the relationship an individual can have with the institution, it is possible to see
contradictions, I see this as positives as it is a corner stone of how to function when creating work in an art practice, do you feel the
role of the contradiction is important when creating ‘alternative’ learning spaces?
See Mao – On Contradiction. This is the essay that must be brought to class. Its not so much that there are contradictions to be understood, but there are only contradictions, to be managed – which is why the quality assurance people offer their inane questionnaires – they produce these things to justify their own contradictory non-practice as a malignant and parasitic growth that fosters bureaucracy within a zero-degree blast zone of what once was education and thinking.
5. DO you feel that there is a definitive model for which
education should proceed?
There is a definitive model of how to resist education. Education is not a social good insofar as it reproduces class hierarchy. This of course is not news. See chapter 16 of Capital.
6. when it comes to suggest that either are a blueprint for a ‘better’
HE structure do they then become what they once were opposing? or are
neither of them opposing the institution but merley reflection on its
current form?
When were they oppositional? The opposition here is an integrated structure. It thrives on complicity and the fiction that greater thinking and critique can have some autonomy outside of the very contradictions that make it possible. All else – and this is a very big else – is training for the alpha, beta and theta drones required by the market system. Tragically, the old university (heaven forbid if we were to save that battered carcass of privilege) is no longer even the preferred mode of preparation for the military-entertainment complex of contemporary capital. Hence McDonalds degrees for graduates of the McDonalds Olympics… etc…

Thank you again i hope these questions make senseBest Paul

* The Alternative Art College *


Yup, all good. Write well. J

What’s On in CCS

Summer – marking, writing, dissertation supervision, preparations for October, rethinking everything, changing nothing (well, you know that is not true – everything has happened before and will happen again, but that does not mean its anything like the same). Not so many school events in August besides the excellent film series, but keep looking here for more – some big name speakers already planned for September, and more films. The what’s on for CCS in general is here.

Creativity Elephant in the Room

So as to be able to post the photograph of the elephant (elephants are a subtheme of this blog, where others would have cats, though I also have cats – and other (political) animals… Elephants are political, cf India, from the Mahabharatha to contemporary Pandals and tourism).

Anyway, the point is to plug Mute and a James Heartfield review of Critique of Creativity:

Tommy Smith, Peter Norman and John Carlos.

Let the Olympiss games begin – remember Tommy Smith and John Carlos showing support for Muhammed Ali’s anti-Vietnam war stance, against poverty and lynching, for Black power, part of the Olympic Project for Human Rights – see – which also brings to light a little known factoid making it worth remembering that the white guy who came second in the 200 metres that day was a runner from Melbourne named Peter Norman. Norman supported the protest, citing Australia’s mistreatment of indigenous people, by ‘pinning an OPHR patch onto his chest to show his solidarity on the medal stand’.

I like this because solidarity is not showboating, its standing alongside in support. Smith, Norman, Carlos: 1,2,3.

Remember Peter Norman:

Suicide Without Fame, without Responsibility

I have mentioned before the Joy Devotion picture book out by Jennifer Otter (launched last week) – It is a study of the things left by Joy Division/Ian Curtis fans at Curtis’s graveside in Macclesfield. A year of trinkets:×240

Makes me think of the media frenzy over a the Batman deaths in Texas, and about having watched footage on Syria and Libya back to back with documentaries on Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain recently… What would the various Death devotions around Curtis and Cobain be if not the industrial remnants – turned trinket commodity detritus – of people spat out by the individualization machine, in which there are no longer actual individuals, only icon figurines of abjection that come to stand in their place – ie, stand in for actual expressive individuality. All the while mass death at the hands of the weapon system barely raises a murmur. This is trinketization, expressive if dysfunctional personality and creativity is turned into a mass produced semblance of a false individuality – and it must be embodied in a fallen idol who is then unable to remain alive inside this brutalizing system. The myopic fans (we?) cling on to this brutal departure because as fans/we are unable to find a way out ourselves – somehow both caught wanting to leave, but with no-where to actually go, because suicide without fame is nothing. This, sadly, also gives a hint as to why someone might style themselves the Joker and shoot a dozen people at a movie screening. Think Brievik in Norway too – these are also the people that the Curtis and Cobain cults create. Along the way distracting from NATO’s more gruesome wars, which are barely opposed by STW or anyone.

Kracauer’s Orpheus in Paris, 1937

Lists, of Paris nightlife attractions. How can this not be known as antecedent of Benjamin’s Arcades? It links boulevards and commune and trinkets and more, it goes on to interweave opera, mischief, music and revolutions, and Panto! Brilliant, overlooked book.


Then, the delight that presents itself to the stumbling pedestrian. Organ grinders (18th Brumaire) cannot be far from Ziggy’s mind here. Turks!


And now, even better, the arcades themselves described as a grotto. Underworld phantasmagoria – with an educational mission.