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For some time (years) myself and colleague Martin Parker have been pondering the possibility of working on a project together.  We pondered this because in our individual insanities we’re quite similar: he writes random stuff about angels, skyscrapers, shipping containers, art galleries and stuff and pretends it’s ‘Management’.  I write random stuff on islands, devils, lines, photography, performance art and stuff and pretend it’s….well, whatever discipline it is I’m ostensibly doing at the time.  Neither of us has much truck with ‘normal’ academia.  We happened to be pondering this recently and for the umpteenth time resolved to DO something about it, when by chance I followed a link to the all new Open School East.

And so we are finally going to actually do something together….

Open School East was immediately appealing because it deliberately sets out to break the ‘rules’.  It is an art school that is not an art school, because it has little or no institutional structure, has no formal accreditation and few, if any, full time staff.  But it offers a year’s studio space to aspiring artists not for fees (let alone £9,000 fees!), but in exchange for a commitment to work with the project’s other elements – community enterprises and outreach schemes into one of London’s poorest boroughs.  The 13 ‘associates’ chosen each year to get the studio space will get a form of education, one delivered by some of the best in the business from the UK and around Europe – artists, curators, performers, writers, all sorts.  This suggests to me at least, a mode of education that is engaged and engaging without being overly curricular or prescriptive.  (I have ranted my views on Higher Education teaching recently).  And without government (or press) inspired audits breathing down their collective necks, it could be, should be, an exciting experience for those fortunate enought to take part (the 13 this coming year were chosen from over 120 candidates).

It was only when I scrolled fully through the website – having already decided that this would be an ideal organisation for us to study – that I noticed that one of the organisers is curator Anna Colin who I have collaborated with in the past on various art-related things and whose judgement I have huge respect for.

Anyway, we’re getting ready for our first vist to OSE next week and looking forward to working with a really fascinating project over the next 12 months.  We haven’t quite figured out how we’ll do that – we need to meet everyone and discuss it with them first – but we hope this is the beginning of something both important and enduring.

More to follow as things unfold….

PS – The pretentious title, producing the even more pretentious acronym – WAVE,  was my doing. Martin suggested exchanging the last two words for ‘New Knowledge’, but on balance we decided to stick to the original, however pretentious….

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