Cum hoc ergo cum hoc
We often fall into the rhetorical trap of constantly referring to the political constellations that oppress us, ultimately reducing ourselves to them, if not being totally merged with the confrontation and the fight we have ourselves initiated. And so we fail to build this “other world” where we want to live, with other priorities and other valuation regimes. More than a utopia (or the idea of an idealized freedom), AALTO MULTIVERSITY suggests a place whose parameters and rules are exposed. It is perhaps a very pragmatic exercise, performed in a transparent and revealing way: knowing the rules of the game is to know that we’re playing it, and this makes it less absolute. In the essay “The Tyranny of Structurelessness”, feminist author Jo Freeman supports the idea that there are no systems without structures, but only systems where the structures are not explicit to all its participants. If the parameters are not visible, the structure becomes absolute, and not negotiable. The policies inherent to the construction of a meta-academy (by the means of irony and fiction) are therefore of utmost importance; they are its dramaturgy. AALTO MULTIVERSITY (dark-)mirrors Aalto University. It is an alternate version of a university-to-be. A non-existent, invisible university. Or a university that could/should have been. It presents a discursive system that is non-hierarchical, non-quantitative, non-capitalist and non-entrepreneurial, where students are not clients and education is not a business. A utopian counter-model aimed to reconcile the current academic paradigm with its proto-academic roots (universitas magistrorum et scholarium), by re-constructing and confronting its narrative with other ontologies, marginalised, silenced, hidden or invisible (queer, feminist, anti-racist, anti-patriarchal, anti-(hetero-)normative), the ones that have been either totally obliterated or explored by an hegemonic white/male/central-European academic discourse that usually thrives in a clear antagonism to the “place of speech”. While discussing the contemporary rituals of academic commemoration (the university of numbers and rankings, the “university of excellence”, as criticized by Bill Readings), AALTO MULTIVERSITY proposes an actualization based on a “de-masculinization” of the contemporary university’s system of representation, thus reacting to the ethics of individualization and the intrinsically “male” entrepeneurial self-empowerment behind Helvetica-induced motivational phrasings like “you make your own path”, “you create your career”, “you can be a game-changer”. As a critical opposition to that, AALTO MULTIVERSITY presents itself as a Queer University, a trans-versal, trans-national and trans-gender university. A retro-futuristic apology to the precariousness, the ugliness and the failure. The unhealthy, the promiscuous and the defeated. A trial for an anti-institution embedded in a queer invisibility. A fight against the politics of “success”, the ideology of “the best country in the world according to studies”. An apology to the ones that don’t play the “game-changing” game. A crack in the system, a para-historical friction.
Santiago Sierra, Removal of a museum’s glass windows, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, 2004. Photo © Guy Braeckman
Sierra took all the artworks out of the museum Dhondt-Dhaenens and then removed all the glass from the outer windows and doors. The building was completely dismantled, stripped and reduced to a gaunt structure in which wind, rain and vandals had free rein.
“(…) in a very literal sense, Kantian university is a fictional institution. Reason can only be institutionalized as far as institution itself can remain a fiction, if it can only work ‘as if’ it was not an institution. When the institution becomes real, reason turns away.”
Bill Readings, The University In Ruins, 1996
Non-Hierarchical Narratives, Museums of Alter-Modern Art, Proto-Academic History, Heterotopic Geography, Rhizomatic Gastronomy, Low-Brow Architecture, Horizontal Mathematics, Infinite Literature, Ontological Anthologies, Meta-Academic Studies, Queer’ating, Pedagogical Pedagogy, Trans-Gender Interdisciplinarity, Anti-Specialization, Post-Territoriality, Identity Crisis, Places-To-Be, Exoticology, Remote Controls, Possession, Progressive Nomadism, Mind-Specificity, Uncreative Writing, Cultural Disappropriations, Copywrong, Quantum Philosophy, Lo-fi-sophy, Science-Based Science, Art-Based Art, Cyber-Terrorism, aPOPcalyptical Studies, Epistemology of Teaching, Unlearning Methodologies, Post-Human Spirituality, Non-Human Creativity, Contemporary Fraud, Fast-Food Education, Eco-Fascism, Classroom’s Design, Instruction Manuals, Idiocracy, Natural Archives, Conference-Based Conferences, Unavoidable TEDx Talks, Meta-Metaphysics, Megalopsychia, the Politics of Listing, Kopimism, Finlandization, National Embarrassments, Trance-Genic Music, Post-Capitalist Readymades, Lame Speech, Laziness