Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The writing on the walls

The lecture course on New School history I teach with my friend J (called Who New?) started today! We're meeting in the same lecture hall where I taught the course on Job and the arts last semester, so it felt doubly familiar. We introduced the course, some of its issues - then sent the class on an assignment. Not all took it as seriously as some did, but the ensuing discussion confirmed the value of the participation of those who did, and our sincerity in soliciting it. Their insights matter!

The assignment was to "pair up in threes" and spend twenty minutes articulating a response to the site-specific commission "Comrades and Lovers" by Glenn Ligon (which happens to be next door to our lecture hall), and then walk up to the 5th floor to the Fifth AVenue-side staircase with its cascade of courses and find some class titles which resonated with the issues Ligon had suggested. Neither of these works gets much attention (in part a consequence of their placement), but each in its way relates to what we're up to in the class. What do you do with the somewhat disjointed history of The New School?

Inspired by my experience with the amazing final assignments for the Job and the Arts class, we're asking students to do a final project engaging New School's past, present and future - in the medium which means most to them, whether creative or academic. Perhaps we'll revisit today's sites for inspiration, or warning. Are words effective ways to convey the energy of this place? Colors? Spaces? Is any work engaging the past doomed to be overlooked by people focused on today's problems and tomorrow's possibilities?

(The above pictures are ones I took during the exercise then projected as the students returned to the classroom for discussion. Tech savvy!)

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