23 May 12

AND AND AND / Event 19 / Jakob Jakobsen / The Antiuniversity Research Project / London / January 1, 2012 - May 1, 2013

During the 100 days of dOCUMENTA (13), AND AND AND will be hosting and organizing an open and experimental public program with artists, activists, farmers, students, thinkers, residents, and visitors from Kassel and beyond. As stated by AND AND AND, this program will interweave “philosophical, poetical, political, practical, pedagogical, psychical, and physical zones of inquiry in one space/time. The program is grounded in a conviction that, today, all fields of human activity must critically re-examine the values, assumptions, and modalities of doing. How do contemporary distributions of roles and competencies reproduce, every day, systems which are creating immense harm, inequality, and destroying the common bases of life? How to instead produce cultures of the common(s)? What kinds of refusals and revocations are called for? What practices could engender and support non-capitalist life? All of the conversations, learn-ins, un-workshops, and other in-activities which take as their horizon these three notions—common(s), revocation, non-capitalist life—are informed and anchored by a series of interventions, situations, and occurrences which have been organized by various artists since 2010.”

A flyer from the Antiuniversity of London 1968 [image courtesy of the PETT Trust and Archive (2012)]

In advance of this program, for the nineteenth AND AND AND, Jakob Jakobsen writes the following introduction:

“The Antiuniversity Research Project is a project I organized in collaboration with Mayday Rooms in London. Mayday Rooms describes itself as ‘a safe house for vulnerable archives and historical material linked to social movements, experimental culture, and marginalised figures and groups. A site for gathering, holding, and animating documents and idioms of dissent which continue to offer a critically productive and emancipatory relation to the turbulent present.’

As one of the decentralised and affiliated projects within the AND AND AND network it has been going on for six months and will continue to May 2013.

The Antiuniversity of London was a self-organised institution founded in 1968 at 49 Rivington Street in East London. Research on this project has so far been relatively limited, and the activities, achievements and collapse of the Antiuniversity still lie very much in the dark. The project developed from the so-called anti-psychiatry movement, an experimental milieu that emerged in the UK and in Italy in the early 1960s. It sought to develop a critique of the ideological nature of the relationship between mental illness and normality, and to abolish the boundary between the institutionalised and the ‘normal.’

The London Antiuniversity is of interest today due to its mixture of radical politics, institutional critique, revolutionary art and emancipatory education. In the midst of a situation where these fields are increasingly being isolated in specialized enclaves and undergoing professionalisation and economization, it is of importance to get a closer understanding of the integration of these fields that the London Antiuniversity set out to achieve in praxis.

The London Antiuniversity opened its doors in February 1968 with an extensive prospectus, which included courses on everything from off-set printing to group therapy and experimental music. Yoko Ono, R.D. Laing, John Latham, Gustav Metzger, Alexander Trocchi and Carolee Schneeman were among the many who offered courses. R.D. Laing, for example, presented his course in this way: 'Psychology and religion - Exposition of some descriptions of 'inner' space in Greek, Christian and Egyptian mythologies. Two lectures: 10 May and 7 June 8.30pm.' Carolee Schneeman's course was described as follows: 'A happening - Will meet with people with a view to creating something that could be performed at the Anti-University itself. Intensive number of meetings for one month from June 24th.' And, the course of one of the founders of the Antiuniversity, Dr. Joseph Berke, was described thus: 'Anti-institutions research project - Theory and practice of anti-university, anti-hospital, anti-theater, anti-family (the commune) and the underground media. The meetings will be concerned with formulating and carrying out specific action projects of use in illuminating the development of a counter-society.'

As an anti-institution, hierarchies in the surrounding society were challenged and all the arrangements for teaching and daily life at Rivington Street were subject to lengthy discussions involving all those who participated in the project.

Likewise, the relationship between teacher and student became the subject of radical questioning. Students became teachers and in turn teachers took part in other courses as students. The aim was to obliterate the difference between teacher and students; their roles were constantly challenged - as when composer Cornelius Cardew refused to play for the students because he believed that students should produce their own music. Or, as in the case of John Latham, where everyone in the community had to take part in transforming the classroom into a large book sculpture.

During the course of 1968 the building on Rivington Street became a commune with students living in the classrooms fully in line with the project's initial experimental nature, but eventually the deinstitutionalisation of the Antiuniversity led to a lack of funding. Within six months, the Antiuniversity left the premises at Rivington Street, but continued as a decentralised and deinstitutionalised university with meetings in people's homes. The decentralised Antiuniversity lasted at least until 1971.

The method of the Antiuniversity Research Project will be socialised research based on the creation of events and the ongoing publication of material, catalysing further discussion and reflection.”

As a part of AND AND AND’s 100 day experimental common program, several Antiuniversity Teach-ins will also take place. The first one in the latter part of June. An educational newspaper will be available as well as the on-going antihistory-blog presenting material from the Antiuniversity in the shape of documents, films, interviews, etc.

For those interested in following and taking part in AND AND AND’s 100 day programs and un-workshops, you can subscribe to a special mailing list by clicking here.

Date: January 1, 2012 - May 1, 2013
City: London
Country: UK
Location: 51° 30' 50.70" N 0° 6' 20.32" W
Address: Mayday Rooms, 88 Fleet Street

dOCUMENTA (13) is not responsible for the views or factual claims expressed by the artists and artworks it presents.

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