Imagine we could found a new (art) college. Who would we learn from and exchange knowledge with? What perspectives and topics would we talk about during classes and who would impart that knowledge? In which periods of our life would we study and how much time would we spend studying? How would we care for one another in these learning spaces? How would we make decisions? Would an (art) college even be an institution? These questions accompanied the week-long summer school A New School, A Summer School – (Re)imagining Learning Environments, organised by Destina Atasayar, Katharina Brenner, Lu Herbst, Lucie Jo Knilli, Charlotte Perka and Lioba Wachtel, that took place in August of 2023 at the M.1 (Arthur-Boskamp-Stiftung, Hohenlockstedt). The summer school was also part of the Studium Generale program from the University of the Arts Berlin. As a group of 25 people with different (academic) backgrounds in Germany and Austria we exchanged ideas about alternative learning spaces and made an effort to put these into practice during the week. We tried to enable and celebrate a space in which one can experiment and make mistakes as part of a learning process instead of being slowed down by a fear of failure or other reasons for hesitation. With the summer school we wanted to dream political dreams and lure the future further into the present until it's settled and wants to stay. We wanted to take detours and embrace absurd ideas, read passages of text three times, pick lemons, rearrange, think big and small thoughts and eventually take naps on the picnic blanket.
As students and graduates of various (art) universities the motivation for organising the summer school is based on experiencing how structural exclusions and power hierarchies work within our colleges and universities. Sometimes we were angry and sometimes tired. We held discussions, organised student seminars, planned actions, encountered resistance and found accomplices. Through these encounters we realized that we are not alone. On the contrary: We learned how many people want to make a change and are working in different ways on making art schools more open, diverse and solidarity-based place. We also noticed that, although we find institutional criticism very important, confrontations with problematic structures were draining longterm. This lead us to wanting to develop own ideas based on existing alternative learning utopias.
At the beginning of the summer school, we gathered our collective knowledge, exchanged experiences and discussed burning questions. The reader we developed and designed to accompany the summer school was an important basis for this. Essential for the reader was that it could be continuously and collectively edited and supplemented. Similarly we also expanded our collection of knowledge with insights into existing initiatives, past projects and pedagogical theories. There were inputs and workshops from Loom e.V. (anti-discrimination workshop), Organisierte Halbbildung (audio walk discussing neoliberal universities), Ren Loren Britton (Access Rider workshop), Mio Kojima (workshop-lecture The What, How, Where, When, and Who: Micropolitics of Design Education) and Roni Katz (performance workshop). We experimented, dreamed, asserted, paused, reformulated, supported each other and payed attention to each other – in short: learned with and from each other. And at the end of the week we celebrated and shared ideas with the public over a curated harvest dinner.
You can find more information on newschool-summerschool.org. Lea Kirstein also writes about the summer school in the article Access is a never-ending process (pages 77 – 81) published in the 68th edition of the Lerchenfeld magazine.