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Go see the Student Exhibition “Social Critique in the 21st Century” @Schouwburgstraat

24 May 2023

When?            Friday 29 May (afternoon) – Friday 9 June 2023
Where?           Schouwburgstraat ground floor

Painting, embroidery, poetry, experimental video, collage, installation, and a board game: during the first two weeks of June, you can admire the incredibly diverse creative projects that students created for the Thematic Seminar: Social Critique in the 21st Century (taught by Judith Naeff).

All participating students were required to read one book expressing social critique: books written as part of the struggle against racism, sexism, political repression, and environmental degradation. For their midterm project, students were asked to respond creatively to the book of their choice and to submit a written reflection clarifying their interpretation of the book, the formal choices for their creative project, and to relate it to a concept discussed in class.

The two main parts of the assignment - reading a book from cover to cover, and the creative project - are designed to interrupt or pause the disciplinary rhythm and rigid format of academic training. What do we gain from engaging with our research object in a non-academic way? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the creative projects open more affective and more imaginative relations to the topics of the course, than the academic texts we read. The topic of our course, social critique, is driven by feelings too: indignation, fear, anger, hope, love, disappointment. And the work of the imagination is indispensable for it: to show where we are heading and to insist that things could be otherwise.

The opportunity to activate creative parts of the brain and to work with the hands was liberating to some, but the continued pressures of student life also made it challenging to make time and headspace required for such a break.

After a first installment for a small audience, the creative projects will be on view on the ground floor of the Schouwburgstraat building for two weeks. Please come over after your exams to enjoy the fruits of the students’ intellectual and creative labour.

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