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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.

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7 comments Log in to Comment

Anonymous
Mon May 17 2010 07:50
"If you feel happy with the culture at Tufts as is, then I feel sorry for you"

uh, you're a self-centered ass.

Jumbolaya
Sat May 15 2010 14:55
“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.”

Thing is, the very nature of the space you're creating creates walls you may not be aware of. If it feels completely Bohemian, and if people smell pot every time they pass by, it sends a strong signal that only certain types should hang around there, even if in principle nobody part of the project would themselves reject anyone.

Anonymous
Fri May 7 2010 11:42
an alternative culture is something everyone should participate in to make it their own, so if you feel that pot, music and having an extension cord is deplorable, then maybe you should define your own culture rather than just inheriting the rules and regulations from your ra's. now if youre down with those rules though, maybe you should walk outside of your second floor, talk with the performers and voice your concerns.

If you feel happy with the culture at Tufts as is, then I feel sorry for you. The culture amounts to nodding complacently, just hoping the graduate on time. the only time the culture stands up for itself is when it drinks itself to escapism every thursday friday and saturday night in their dorm rooms, hiding from ras.

If your going to break rules at least be doing it for a reason. If your going to judge other people trying to define their own world, at least voice your opinions in a way other than just declaring something ridiculous.

Anonymous
Fri May 7 2010 10:26
While I agree that taking being arrested as a goal rather than a necessary by-product is immature, consider also that: there's a fairly legitimate concern that may become a society of overly-regulated law-abiding obedient little consumers of whatever products (including info-tainment products) are fed to us. Being arrested, particularly for doing something that doesn't really harm others, can be a very educational experience. Want to find out what cops -- the concrete expression of the powers that be -- are really like? Get arrested for doing something innocuous.
Anonymous
Thu May 6 2010 12:41
They're doing this outside my dorm, Metcalf. Like right on top of our dorm. By "alternative culture," they mean running extension cords through someone's room, blasting awful music deep into the night, and smoking so much pot that some of the dorm rooms on the 2nd floor are starting to smell. Seriously, this is ridiculous.
Anonymous
Wed May 5 2010 16:00
“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.”
You would be ashamed if you didn't get arrested at least once before you graduate? So what your really saying is "Hey everyone, look at me! I'm important! Pay attention to me! Look at me look at me look at me! I need attention!"
Grow up
Anonymous
Mon May 3 2010 15:13
“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,”

because students have a history of poorly managing such things, which inevitably fall prey to vandalism and other crime. how long have you been around this campus that you think that you can have anything open 24 hrs? it's a chronic staffing and security issue.

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