The Palestinian conflict rippling across Dutch art educational institutions

I guess it’s safe to say, in the case where statements have gone missing or advocate neutrality after teaching decolonial theory, that your institution isn’t woke, it’s just instrumentalizing you for street cred. It’s taking your hopes, your dreams, your aspirations, your country of origin as a marker for international reach, tolerance, and openness. And this used to be fine up until recently, up until spines started growing left and right within the art field. This used to be a symbiotic relationship. I scratch your back, you scratch mine. I give you my support, you give me yours. But let’s not make it political. You take my image, you bend it and fold it and turn me into a worthy product. I might get to earn because of you, or I might not, since the art and design field are flimsy and few make it to monetize their practices, nevertheless art educational institutions keep on churning diplomas in spite of it all, in spite of a pandemic, like clockwork, on time, right on the money. But at the moment the very thing that worked – the mutuality of this relationship – has broken down due to the fact that a new generation is discovering its political affiliations, or, rather than discovering them, making them more public. And that’s where institutional structures drew the line and started advocating neutrality. (…) But they also made clear why a true institutional statement is never really possible in an institution like the Sandberg – it basically boils down to the fact that “there is no society”. Sandberg Institute is not a unified institution, but a collection of freelance tutors that mostly work 2 hours a week and don’t even know their fellow tutors. Organizing, under this framework, would be a monumental task. Not impossible, mind you, but for sure time-consuming. Collective organizing among freelancers becomes then the ball and chain of why things are not moving. The outwardly projected image of the institution is very appealing, but its internal material conditions are actively working against solidarity and are fully embedded in a neoliberal framework. Within that framework, one can have progressive programs like “Disarming design”. But in practice this is ultimately a form of colonization of artists with a background that is deemed different from those coming from the global north, a type of background that needs to be “included” for “diversity” reasons, that needs to mine its own suffering over and over – at once reliving trauma and neutralizing it.

Alina Lupu in The Palestinian conflict rippling across Dutch art educational institutions (