Saturday, November 11, 2006

NAS vs COFA part 5

Cruising the blogworld - I found this GREAT posting about one woman and one gorrillas attempt to end the closures/mergers/crap about art schools in sydney.

Nasty rumours say that under the merger COFA will lose their fine arts departments: painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics and move/merge the whole lot with NAS - meanwhile becoming a purely 'design' school.

Maybe this explains the relative lack of action by NAS students - and the firey support that COFA students gave to the gorilla girl....... anyway - decide fer yerselves.......

The Performance Protest: called "Sleeping with The Enemy" will be re-enacted THIS SATURDAY NOVEMBER 18th from 6-8pm at "Glint Gallery", Level 1, 226 Union street South Newtown.

this is not just a chance to sip goon while gawking at a whacky art student in a wedding veil pretending to fuck a gorilla - but COULD actually be a good opportunity for a discussion and exchange of ideas about the current art school closures in sydney that goes beyond the fatuous partisan name calling that has been occuring in the press of late.

OVER THE SUMMER, SYDNEY WILL LOSE HALF OF ITS DEGREE BASED ART SCHOOLS. (there are still 4 TAFEs offering diploma or certificate courses.... but for how long?)

"I turned up on the NAS campus with my bed, my mini-kilt and my fluffy white gorilla, Manilla, who's a vanilla dyke, and we started performing dutifully.

At that point, some members of the staff came to me with soft smiles and asked me if I was going to stay there long, that maybe I could move, hum, before the Honours Degree Show opens at 6pm? Please? And why not right now? No?

This is a rock, a peak, a peninsula! (to quote Cyrano de Bergerac) Un comble, puisqu'il faut parler frog! I tried to contact these people during a week for them to tell me what would bean appropriate time for my perf to take place, and no-one told me THAT? Ouh là là là là là là........

Never mind, ça ne fait rien. I went on and tried to engage with students and passers-by, to try and raise questions, statements of opinion, et coetera. I got a few amused encouragements, a lot of indifference, and giggles galore. No-one seemed to take the matter seriously. ARe we so used to the masks and screens that we ignore the faces and real world behind? Are NAS people so blasés about my humour?

You want my word? I think the whole Caca thing is way out of their cognitive field because they believe in good taste, les c...s.

So off I went, je suis allée me faire voir ailleurs, namely at COFA. Believe me, pushing a hospital bed on Oxford Street at peak hour is fun. Now I've got the six packs and each time I laugh, my abds hurt as hell! Thank you RTA for the bus lane. But not for the hole in the bitumen each five meters.

At COFA, which is to some NAS people what Saddam is to George, I had a better welcoming. Not only did the students there cheer me and engage seriously with me, but the head of the marketing department and the dean himself insisted on dialoging with me. I don't think they got the Caca humour either, but well, as Gertrude Stein said, "There is, was and always will be the official art, and the art." And heads usually are on the official art side. Nevertheless, the dean invited a few students and myself to have an impromptu conference in his office, during which he exposed his vision of the future if COFA takes over NAS.
As a matter of fact, he was speaking about it in the indicative future, giving us the impression the merging had already happened. Maybe it's just like the cross city tunnel, it HAS already happened but we don't know it yet, we'll wake up one morning and there'll be twins towers instead of the good old chapel. He looked really confident and radiated with good will.
But he was still heralding the disappearance of one more art school in Sydney and finding it would be a good thing, R.I.P. National Art School.

Manilla started sobbing and I got scared she'd get upset, so we shook hands and ended the dialog."


Skanky Jane said...

"ARe we so used to the masks and screens that we ignore the faces and real world behind?"

Good question. The different repsonses from students of the two schools is curious.

The widespread apathy and political disengagement of university students at my home campus was an eyeopener.

The majority of the non arts students didn't even know if they were enrolled to vote or not and the arts students were too cool, doubtful, cynical and generally "postmodern" to act. (Observed during student union campaigns in the lead up to a Federal election and at a time when significant changes were being made to higher education).

(Obviously this apathy and disengagement is not the case at COFA and UWS).

"Maybe it's just like the cross city tunnel, it HAS already happened but we don't know it yet,"

Oh, I strongly suspect this is the case and not only in this instance. Manoeuvres such as these are always highly orchestrated with outcomes on the table (at least) from the outset.

Not that I'm suggesting it isn't worth making a hullabaloo - in fact all the more reason to do so IMHO.

SJ xx

Anonymous said...

Your protest was for an institution that is diametrically opposed to your art form, being performance art. The NAS stands for conservative artistic values and this limits students educational posibilites.
Check out my blog

mayhem said...

I really appreciate your comments - but I think it's easy to confuse an institution - with the 'dominant line' of some of it's teaching staff. when i was at the NAS - I DID performance art - as part of my painting - and it was recognised. OK it was more tolerated that recognised - but I certainly didn't feel that the institutions, or my teachers or my fellow students were 'diametrically opposed' to what I was doing - and I got some good feedback and support and stimulation that has kept me going ever since.

I DO aproeciate the timeliness of your BLOG -because now the NAS is apparently safe/ or under review - its a good time to really challenge the neoconservative shit that has been used to defend it... so keep on firing!