THE ABZ OF THE COPENHAGEN FREE UNIVERSITY
Black Mountain College, New
Experimental College, Drakabygget, the Spontaneous University, New York
Free University, London Anti-University, Berlin Kriticher Universität,
Detroit Artists' Workshops.
A motor running in the background.
They never mentioned that learning could be a matter of a 'desire to' or a 'desire for'. No. They left it so that we did not know what our desires could be until it was to late, until we desired the job and became emotionally attached to it.
Become one, become many. I
With the Copenhagen Free University
we have opened a discussion about who and what define knowledge today
and the relationship between knowledge and life. Our work is based on
the understanding, that knowledge is social and that all forms of human
activity carries a level of knowledge. As Antonio Gramsci wrote in his
prison diaries from 1932: "All are intellectuals [...] but not all
have the function of the intellectual in society".
Strike and disappear.
The Copenhagen Free University
is a sphere of interest arising from the material life we experience and
will always already be politicised before any citizenship. Our scope is
both local and global, looking for fellow travellers around the corner
and around the world.
Tuesday November the 20th 2001
a general election took place in Denmark and what materialised was the
natural consequence of a decade of commonly accepted xenophobia and racism
in the Danish society: a government based on the support of the far right
is now a reality. This mess is raising even more demands to the development
of independent institutions and new forms of political language in culture.
The effort to spend time outside
capitalist production - by running up the down escalator, by walking aimlessly
around the neighbourhood, by sleeping through the day, by daydreaming,
etc. etc. This is not leisure - leisure is part of the cycle of productive
behaviour - this is glorious waste.
'And I will do' is almost a
fully functioning distribution network for women making videos in Europe.
It is a correspondence video project, like an envoy from another city.
If you are a woman video maker, who would like to show your work to other
women video makers in Europe and the U.S.A. and see the work of other
women video makers, you can. If you can send me a good copy of your video,
I will transfer it onto a compilation tape, with 10 other videos. Everybody
on the tape will receive a copy. Url: www.andiwilldo.net.
All Power to the smell of burnt
Let's open a ski slope between
passion and logic.
The crucial struggle is the
struggle in the wilderness. There is no direct route; directions will
come as we go through the wilderness of confused mornings, of neurotic
social relations, of opaque bureaucracy, of mental dead weight, of lack
of money at the supermarket check-out. As Marx wrote: "The revolution,
which finds here not its end, but its organisational beginning, is no
The decision to open a university
was made because we would like to get involved with the social processes
which deals with the valorisation of knowledge in a society. A university
works like a bank; both guarantee a system of value. The Copenhagen Free
University guarantees a wide array of personal, improvised and politicised
forms of knowledge embedded in social practises around us - forms of knowledge
we would like to make explicitly social and create communities around.
The evolution of art has never
been results of art critique or any selection based on quality, but of
quantitative abundance. Therefore is all artistic selection, no matter
how fine it might be, repressive for the evolution of art.
All power to translucent concrete.
The Free University is an artist
run institution dedicated to the production of critical consciousness
and poetic language. We do not accept the so-called new knowledge economy
as the framing understanding of knowledge. We work with forms of knowledge
that are fleeting, fluid, schizophrenic, uncompromising subjective, uneconomic,
acapitalist, produced in the kitchen, produced when asleep or arisen on
a social excursion - collectively.
We are both sitting at the
table, with our hands under our legs, waiting for the food to arrive.
I am not sure if I should speak, anyway she starts talking and pointing
at things on the shelf, but I don't know if it is an expression, or a
word. I try to copy what it is she is saying, but it is hard to keep up.
I do say a couple of things, but later I realise that it was a question,
not a name. I imagine what it would be like if I learnt to speak Danish
from her, and then I imagine how disappointing I must be, as an adult
that cannot answer her questions. I am not sure that she would be interested
in teaching me, if I was not able to have an exchange with her at this
point in time, when she was willing to.
Dear Copenhagen Free University
Saw your exhibition in Vienna and was in sympathy with the project you outline on your leaflets. Keep up the good work! I'm doing a thesis on Sartre and am arguing, amongst other things, for the potentially radically emancipatory nature of his literary writings. It's important that left aesthetic theory and production get beyond simply seeing art as an expression of bourgeois ideology (and hence capitalism). It has to be seen as having intrinsically emancipatory qualities.
What do you people feel about modern jazz?
Best wishes Sam.
Our work is usually closely
connected to the daily life we live. The Copenhagen Free University is,
in fact, situated and functions within the framework of our flat and household
economy. The Free University has not got any marble columns or any spectacular
architecture, but has all the mess and irregularities of a place where
What if you don't feel like
a sensible citizen? What if your language is not making sense in the public
The active refusal of the present
social relations of capitalism, an evacuation of it's means of support
and the construction of an alternative. Not a direct opposition or negation,
but the immediate evacuation.
The model of The Free University
is one we have taken up and reworked, and is based on a direct unmediated
exchange of knowledge between people as vehicle of social change. It is
our hope that you instead of dreaming of the Copenhagen Free University
or London Anti-University or the Free University of New York or the Spontaneous
University, go where you live and establish your own university drawing
on the knowledge in your networks.
The language of madness is
the perpetual slipping over of words into acts until the moment when the
word is pure act.
In a biography of the Swedish
artist Karin Larsson (1859-1928), it is mentioned, along with a review
of her works in a traditional sense, that she used to place the saucepan
in which the potatoes were boiled directly onto the table! That is, she
did not pour the potatoes into a bowl, but rather let them stay in the
saucepan. It was one of the Larsson family's maids who had told this to
the author of the biography, and for the maid it was a noteworthy act.
How entirely practical, thus reducing the number of dishes that needed
to be washed. And not only that: the potatoes also retained their warmth,
which they do not when you pour them into a cold bowl - you could of course
choose to warm the bowl first, but that would also demand extra effort.
In a jiffy, the saucepan is placed on the table, and suddenly a work process
is simplified. One small jiffy for the Larssons - one giant jiffy for
(wo)mankind. Well, maybe it had been seen before, but obviously not so
often as to prevent this from arousing surprise in a small Swedish village.
Our life within language
is like a journey within polluted air.
Living at the Copenhagen Free University - an account from a guest:
My room is built in such a
way, that it has both a door that leads directly to the outside, the stairs,
and another sliding door which is the entrance to the home. You could
be here, but feel quite separate from the rest of the household. You could
also come and go without the others knowing (not that I have done that)
I prefer to keep the sliding door open, then I get to hear more of the
rest of the house and smell the cooking. It is hard to tell how much I
spill out, but there is definitely a place where we all combine, and I
like it when somebody pops their head around the door.
It was a solely social act
to say "Let us open a university" and as we opened the Copenhagen
Free University right away lots of discursive forces came in motion in
and around this self-institution.
Today there are loads of manifestos being produced promoting all sorts of ready-made subjectivities wanting to become government. Our intention was to produce a power that refuses to become government.
Ordinary house dust is a mixture of dead insect parts, fl akes of human skin, shreds of fabric, minerals, seeds, pollen, feather, hair, blood, excrement and many other materials.
The Copenhagen Free University is a temporary self-institution that for a period of time gather and formalise a community of individuals and groups around a certain struggle. Sooner or later the CFU will abolish itself with the intention of the formation of more informal networks and a redistribution of power. This strategy of temporary formation and subsequent abolition of autonomous institutions has been called the starburst strategy.
Thanks to Emma Hedditch, Anthony Davies, Ian Trowell, Howard Slater, Johnny Spencer, Asger Jorn and David Cooper, Henriette Heise and Jakob Jakobsen.
Last update: Oct 2003