Modelling (2) GSA MFA

Tutor Sarah Tripp's text-based group discussion, Bearing Witness:
On my visit, “Bearing Witness” gathered eleven students to the JD Kelly’s “crit space” to discuss the text “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real: On the Risk of Bearing Witness and the Art of Affective Labour” by the Berlin-based writer and critic Jan Verwoert. Prior to the two-hour session, students were instructed to read and annotate the text, and “choose a quotation which opposes, critiques or extends a section from the Verwoert essay.” They were also asked to choose an artwork that responded to the piece and prepare a short statement describing what the work “witnesses” and how. “Participation by everyone is built into the [discussion’s] structure,” Tripp explained. Seated around two pulled-together tables in the small but high-ceilinged, whitewashed room, most of the students expressed frustration with the text due to its roving, circuitous style. The artworks selected in response to Verwoert’s essay were as diverse as the students: a video of Trisha Brown’s A Man Walking Down the Side of a Building, a scene from Peter Greenaway’s film The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, works by Pierre Huyghe and Michel Houellebecq. After a tentative start, a wide-ranging conversation around the nature and role of contemporary art in a broader sense and the notion of art-making as affective labor developed, and accents from around the world filled the room. At the discussion’s end, Tripp invited the students to email her with suggestions of texts for future meetings.
On justification: 
Graham Ramsay has witnessed many changes and developments in the program, first as a student from 1995–97 when he was taught by Sam Ainsley and Calcutt, and then as a tutor. He stresses the need for the students to be able to “contextualize their work in a way that’s appropriate to their practice. None of us would be happy with vague talk about intuition; we want them to be able to identify what’s peculiar to their practice in as precise terms as possible. We are relatively analytic and forensic in wanting them to clarify in terms that are important to them.”

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