I said, “Hey. When did we lose our way?”. The last of a series of lines spoken in various meetings over the course of 2019. The responses were as follows; Panel 1: Silence. Panel 2: Silence. Panel 3: Silence. Panel 4: Silence Panel 5: “That’s untenable”. Panel 6: “Can you just make them fit”. Panel 7: “They are the market” . Panel 8: “That’s a cop out”. Panel 9: Silence. Panel 10: Silence. Panels11 and12: Silence.
The agreed upon narrative is that everything is fine and that we are doing things well. But the reality often seems far removed.
One of my favourite articles of 2019 was written by Helena Ostrowicka and Lukasz Stankiewicz. The title was, ‘The truths of business and the lies of academia: the order of discourse on higher education’. The article is centred around a text written in 2012 by Andrzej Klesyk (the President of the one of the largest financial institutions in Poland – ‘Polish Insurance Company’) about universities and their graduates. I contained criticism of universities, whose graduates were supposedly unprepared to enter the job market and lacked competencies looked for my employers. His text became a reference point for 1. A heavy debate on the quality of academic education and 2. A new discourse concerning universities, which described them as the ‘factories of the unemployed’.
The future form of the system is supposed to avoid the mistakes of the past. But you have to have the stomach to acknowledge those mistakes first. To do otherwise is to perpetuate an illusion.
There are some references in my lines. It would be un-academic of me to not reference Seth Godin for the term, ‘remarkable / remarkability’. There is a point there.
The line in Panel 4, “we need thinkers not those who memorise keys to the tests” is me paraphrasing of Klesyk’s original desire, “We are looking for those who think independently and not for those who are able to memorise the keys and formats of the tests”.
The line in Panel 8, “no one shows up or studies anymore” is me paraphrasing A. Pezda’s stance, “We engage in mutually deceptive practices. We are saving our positions, and students are not studying anymore because they have noticed that they do not need to”.
And the phrase in Panel 10, “factories of the unemployed” is direct reference to the new discourse that emerged as a result of Klesyk’s text – a discourse that involved entrepreneurs, academic authorities, ordinary academics, students, and journalists – and that described universities in this fashion.
The art itself is a nod to Ashleigh Watson for opening my eyes to the liberating power of mixed-methods research – to Alison Piepmeier for proving to me that the weirdness and embodied and esoteric nature of ‘zines matter’ – to Adam Busby and Mitch Reyes from Shillington Graphic Design College for teaching me about typography and grids and alignment and the power of keeping shit simple – to Chris Ashworth who asks, “Where is the human in the work?”, made me wonder if I can make paper look edgy and cool by simply driving over it in my car, and for amping me up with his deconstructed all human middle finger design style of Swiss Grit.
I could give credit for idea that it is perfectly fine to stand up and say, “Hey this is not ok” to many people and many things but on this occasion in addition to Klesyk, Pezda, and the Gazeta Wyborcza I will add the Nantucket Project with it’s 2014 focus, ‘Seek the Truth and endure the Consequences’ and one of my favourite spoken word poets Lemm Sissay for the following lines from his 2014 speech, ‘Poetry is the Voice at the Back of the Mind’, “I brought a new narrative to a family that already thought they had their narrative sorted. We’re all ok with the story aren’t we. We know what are are not talking about. We know what we are talking about. And everything is ok as long as we do that”.
It is ok to destroy a narrative that is not real.
Those who seek the truth and deal with the consequences
148m x 210mm (A5) Portrait
Mixed Media. Manipulated paper. Manual print transfer. Graphite. Charcoal
Godin 2013; Ostrowicka & Stankiewicz 2019 ; Klesyk 2012; Pezda 2013; Gazeta Wyborca 2012; Watson 2019; Piepmeier 2008; Sissay 2014