Guerilla artists hope to create an open 24-hour space
Published: Monday, May 3, 2010
Updated: Monday, May 3, 2010 07:05
Students from the Experimental College (ExCollege) Guerilla Performance Art and Politics class are for their final project creating a 24-hour open space owned by students in the hopes of building a second culture on campus.
Lecturer Milan Kohout teaches the class, which is about the fusion of art, politics and life.
"The artist would completely disconnected from the main culture so that they would not be part of the main culture in any way … It was the creation of a completely separate entity from the main culture," Kohout said. "This class is trying to teach this technique, and one of the techniques was performance art … which you can incorporate within a public space at any time."
Kohout explained that for their final project, students in the class are embarking on a collaborative attempt to create a second culture within the university through the creation of a 24-hour open space for students.
"Many of [the students] felt there is no permanent space for Tufts students to socialize, which would really be owned by them … and which would employ the rules created by them," Kohout said. "So they decided to find and locate some space in the university grounds where they will be starting to build that space by guerilla means."
Will Ramsdell, a junior in the class, explained that they are going to use the empty space next to Metcalf Hall and over the three days of reading period will have students discuss topics of interest to them.
"We'd like to have a new school, something called the Tufts New School," Ramsdell said. "For the most part … we're liberal arts students. We sit around talking about stuff we know and care about from class, but it doesn't happen nearly as much as it ought to. So we'd like to take the coolest readings and topics we've studied and give them more attention."
Maya Grodman, a freshman in the class, added that students hope to promote interaction.
"One of the main problems in our society is how people seem closed off and comfortable in their own lives — that makes them form closed-off social walls," Grodman said. "We're creating our own 24-hour space on campus where people can meet other students and break down the social walls we've created."
Another goal is to creatively merge art into the performance project.
"This can be considered as an art project but yet also a serious part of the life of the student body at Tufts … There are no borders between art, life and politics," Kohout said.
"Another mission is to have art be part of everything that happens there," Ramsdell said. "From the constructing itself to the way we decorate it will be art. We're using crafts center resources and resources around campus."
Ramsdell noted the possibility that the class' actions could draw the attention of officials.
"Our plan is to go out to this spot, sleep there, do art there, for three days straight during reading period," Ramsdell said. "There's a fairly legitimate concern that we may be arrested. I would be ashamed if that did not happen to me once before I graduated."
The class has put together a petition calling for support for opening up a space for students to "define and operate."
The petition explains the motivation behind the class' act, saying that "As Tufts students, we have no SPACE to call our own. That which Tufts provides … is over-regulated and fails to address many of the needs and desires of its students and faculty."
Ramsdell feels that the administration has too much control over the university, which manifests in rules concerning the usage of university space, including common rooms.
"It's not a university by the students and faculty but a university run by the administrative individual," Ramsdell said. "Every single space on campus has a closing time, an administrative official running it and policies restricting what kind of activities can happen there."
While the space is starting out as a temporary construct, class members hope that it will eventually lead to a permanent structure for students to use.
"While this space is going to be temporary, what we want people to know is that what we're asking for eventually is a real space for students," Ramsdell said. "We've been telling people to watch out; there will be this new building on campus. We're hoping that [this location] becomes a visible shock that we need this."
Jenny White contributed reporting to this article.