Warsaw Summit

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Working Group Facilitators: Metod Blejec and Marsha Bradfield
Working Group Members: Metod Blejec, Marsha Bradfield, Karem Ibrahim

Description - sourced from Kuba's draft sent by email on October 12, 2010:

Creative industries and factories of knowledge – analysis and resistance. In search of a way out from the decay of the public sphere in neoliberal societies. This year’s Congress of the Free / Slow University of Warsaw is devoted to the debate on the ongoing and disturbing transformations of the mechanisms of culture and knowledge creation. Various attempts at “reforming” academic and cultural activity consist in implementing neoliberal principles of social life organisation through privatisation, commodification, commercialisation, managerisation as well as focus on competitiveness and short-term effectiveness. As a project of hegemonic nature, such formatting occurs also in other domains: health care, education, transport, social insurance system etc.

Art and science are subjected to models that function on the basis of short-sighted economic calculation, with an exclusive aim of profit maximisation for a narrow circle of capitalists. Institutions of culture are to function like creative industries, NGOs like effective profit-oriented enterprises and universities are to convert into knowledge factories that produce flexible and mobile workforce.

The side effect of these processes comes in the form of a progressive decay of the public sphere. Ensuring access to culture and education was traditionally perceived not only as a mission but also as a necessary condition for universal democracy. Now, art and science are to establish an “enterprise-friendly” environment, or even, in the best-case scenario, transform autonomous institutions into capitalist companies. Instead of a public good, they are to generate nothing else than artifacts and expertise of doubtful quality, whose task is not in the least disseminating critical civic consciousness, but increasing profit rate.
Yet, we are under no delusion. We are interested neither in a return to the bygone era of enlightened dictatorship and state control nor in the march towards the bright future of common poverty, to which the neoliberal project will inevitably lead us. Therefore, we have no intention whatsoever of defending public bureaucracy against free-market managerism and the reverse. We treat both forms of management as a threat to the existence of universally favourable as well as accessible culture and academic knowledge. In our opinion, today both these spheres demand genuine grassrooting, network-based administration and universalisation of access. Merging reflection in the two domains – culture and science – in which many of us are concurrently engaged, we stand a better chance of making a right diagnosis, developing mechanisms of resistance and finding alternative models to neoliberal projects.
Mechanism of action Three-day seminar of the Free / Slow University of Warsaw is devoted to a lively debate on specific case-studies developed by a group of curators, artists, theorists and activists from the entire Europe. Study of the problem is merged with a critical analysis of its system-related conditions in a comparative perspective – among various countries and fields of art and science. The recurring theme of the entire seminar is the exchange of practical experience, search for alternatives and mapping resistance mechanisms. Participation in the seminar is possible exclusively upon prior enrolment, number of participants is strictly limited due to intensive character of work. Therefore we recommend attending every day of the Congress.
Programme of the Congress also includes afternoon open meetings during which seminar participants will present the course of debates to a broader audience. Reports from the Congress will appear at www.wuw2010.pl on an ongoing basis.

A few points of consideration (Marsha's thoughts on October 24, 2010)

  • Do we really have the time/energy/focus to do this either individually or as a group?
  • Is it really feasible to work via email between Madrid/London/Budapest?
  • Can we work to the deadline? To submit a 1000 - 1500 "paper of what we're presenting in Gdansk, we need at least a week to write the bad boy, which means the deadline for aggregating themes/foci is November 3, 2010. Please don't send these via email - put them on the wiki. (Karem, I'm sure Metod will show you how to use it.)
  • Kuba's remark: deadlines are: 10th of November - sending the aggregated theme and description of planned action, by 1st of December - sending 1000 - 1500 words text and visuals presenting case study
  • Can we distribute the labour equitably? What should we do if we can't?

Aggregate themes here - Deadline is November 3, 2010

Metod's Thoughts on Themes (Friday 29.10. 1.30am)

  • (1) Self-education (if I remember correctly this was one of the possible topics of Parade in the early stages?!?) and/or;
  • (2) Collective-education > open source, creative commons and free information/knowledge exchange
  • Eradication of self-institutionalization (a while ago I wrote a short text on this topic. You can find it on my site: metodblejec.net > Writing > Solo > Why Self-institutionalization is not artist's future. Link here [1])
  • Critical Practice as a strategy on future development (I always loved this statement from Alan C. Kay who said: "the best way to predict the future is to invent it". Full text on Predicting the Future here [2])

Our presentation considers the organizational ethos of Critical Practice (CP) as an interdisciplinary community of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991). CP brings together artists, designers and/or researchers based in London and beyond to explore what it means to co-create knowledge about culture in common, i.e. culture that is not only shared, distributed and publically accessible but also investigates the sharing, distribution and accessibility of culture more generally. After elaborating CP’s ethos in relation to this interest, we go on to analyze the interplay between the community’s working methods and its stated aims and objectives. Key flows and tensions in CP’s self-governance are identified with the view of opening up discussion around their broader significance: what they may indicate about the limits and/or potential of communities of practice intent on simultaneously investigating and enacting culture in common.


The Second Summit of the Free/Slow University of Warsaw will be devoted to reflection on the transformations in the field of science and art. The three-day meeting will gather educators, artists, activists and culture theorists from the entire Europe. During the Congress we will work on studies of specific problems pertaining to a critical analysis of system-related conditions in a comparative perspective. This year’s FSUW Congress is to serve the purpose of mapping mechanisms of resistance and searching for alternatives to the transformation of independent institutions of culture and universities into effective and profit-oriented enterprises.

The proceedings of the Summit will be accompanied by afternoon events open for the public: Jan Simon’s exhibition “Four Pata-economic Undertakings”, presenting the principles of alternative economics, and the premiere of the new translation of the notorious book by Ivan Illich Deschooling Society. Jan Simon’s exhibition will feature, among others, “Zollskulptur” – sculpture made of smuggled cigarettes, part of the project “A Survey of Lotto Systems. Mind’s Struggle with the World” and the work “Lagos Transfer” on display at the Museum of Art in Łódź. Participants of the debate accompanying the premiere of the new translation of Illich’s Deschooling Society: Jan Sowa, Przemysław Czapliński and Piotr Laskowski.

There will be a live coverage of the Summit available at: www.wuw2010.pl

CREATIVE INDUSTRIES AND KNOWLEDGE FACTORIES: ANALYSIS AND RESISTANCE time: 7-9.12.2010, Tuesday-Thursday, 11-17.00 venue: Solec, 44 Solec St., Warsaw / www.solec.waw.pl applications: szymon[at]funbec.eu working language: English hosted by: Janek Sowa, Kuba Szreder participants, among others: Matteo Pasquinelli (Berlin), Critical Practice (London), Microsillions (Geneva), Carrot Workers Collective (London), Radical Education Collective (Ljubljana), Heath Bunting (Bristol), Krystian Szadkowski (Brussels/Poznan), Tomasz Szkudlarek (Gdansk), Kuba Mikurda (Krakow), Kaja Pawełek (Warszawa), Magdalena Rek – Wożniak (Lodz), Piotr Kowzan (Poznan)

COLLATERAL EVENTS: JAN SIMON: FOUR PATA-ECONOMIC UNDERTAKINGS exhibition opening: 7.12.2010, Tuesday, 19.00 time: 7-19.12.2010 venue: Bęc Zmiana, 65/7 Mokotowska St., Warsaw

IVAN ILLICH: DESCHOOLING SOCIETY publication premiere: 8.12.2010, Wednesday, 19.30 debate: Jan Sowa, Przemysław Czapliński, Piotr Laskowski venue: Solec, 44 Solec St., Warsaw / www.solec.waw.pl

This year, the FSUW Summitwill adopt a half-open form – seminars are free to attend, but we ask all participants for a prior enrolment. Number of participants limited. Please send applications (including a bio and a short explanation note on why you are interested in the subject of the seminar) to the address: szymon[at]funbec.eu

The programme of the Summit includes the following seminars, among others:

Matteo Pasquinelli (Berlin): On the ruins of creative city. Krystian Szadkowski (Brussels/Poznan): Regaining education – conclusions from global students and workers; struggles 2006-2010. Tomasz Szkudlarek (Gdańsk): Knowledge society and its workers. The Carrot Workers Collective (London): The carrot and the stick regulate our present: from student loans to mortgages and the imperative to creatively and flexibly self-actualise. Kaja Pawełek (Warszawa): When vocation becomes profession. Piotr Kowzan (Poznan): Pedagogy of debt: from migration to institutional changes Critical Practice (London): Critical Practice: A case study of a culture in common Heath Bunting (Bristol): A fortune of $1,000,000 begins with a single transaction Microsillons (Geneva): The fly in fly out workshop Kuba Mikurda (Krakow): Analysis of the National Programme for the Development of Humanities. Radical Education Collective (Ljubljana): Beyond the factories of knowledge: for a world without capitalist exploitation Magdalena Rek-Woźniak (Lodz): Picnic for hobos? On institutionalised culture and social exclusion in post-industrial city.

FSUW Curator: Kuba Szreder | FSUW Organiser: Bęc Zmiana Foundation

The FSUW 2010 project is financed with support of the City of Warsaw.

Partner: Solec / www.solec.waw.pl

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The interior of the Palace of Culture in Warsaw. The F/S University Warsaw Summit did not take place here.

photo source