Many thanks to all the participants in our symposium on Friday, both the speakers – John Beck, David Blacker, Matthew Cornford and Nina Power – and the audience. David first spoke on ‘the education horror show’, arguing how a coming shift from ‘exploitation’ to ‘elimination’ will come to impact upon the population, work and the needs of and for education. John Beck and Matthew Cornford offered a compelling and affecting slideshow of the ruined or abandoned spaces of old local art schools, which charted not only a narrative of decline and elimination but, often in close proximity, massive (and sometimes massively wasteful) investment in contemporary public galleries, in which the public is invited no longer to practice but consume. Nina concluded with a reconstruction of the figure of the student, calling into question assumptions not only about increasingly passivity but also the inevitability and even possibility of eliminationism in its educational and vocational contexts. Questions from the audience, a large number of whom had attended the art schools pictured and been involved in the protests described, encouraged a broad-ranging discussion of the changing nature of art education, the fate of art educators, and the subjectivity of the art student, as well as debate and disagreement about the character of the shifts in contemporary capitalism (post-exploitation? post-industrial? immaterial, creative and cultural?) and their implications for the future of art schools and universities in and outside of London.
There is a chance to question David further about The Falling Rate of Learning at our next HEAT reading group on Tuesday 11th November (details here). Those who would like to continue the theoretical discussion about higher education are encouraged to join or collaborate the HEAT network at the University of Westminster: all ideas and suggestions for future events welcome.