We were a bit nervous. The rain put a damper on the day and everyone was trickling in, unnerved by train delays and soggy clothes. Once we began, all of our concerns dissipated, as students seemed to feel comfortable rather quickly, as if we had been working together for weeks already. Even before we began our introductions, they voiced their concerns about the future and the economy. They opened up quickly in the introductory performance exercises, and we immediately began having a nuanced conversation about the economy. Simple actions were already drawing out stories, observations, and memories. It was amazing at how informed, critical, and complex their perspectives already were! These are students that have already faced these issues in their daily lives, and immediately we could feel the urgency of the project in our present and future lives.
We began to confront issues like the alienating effects of labor and our alienation from people and objects around us. We told stories about our labor memories: one student was a stalwart defender of company brands while another student had to leave to work at a company that we had just discussed. The day seemed to be going too easily! They understood the concepts so quickly, the videos provoked such great discussion and the performances were bringing out such interesting new knowledge. We finally hit a bit of a speed bump (in a good way) when we began to talk about painting the walls. As concept met a material reality, we debated, drafted, and discussed. Though we wanted to finish painting today, the students felt rushed and pushed for more time to consider the task. We welcomed their agency and strong opinions.
Student Feedback on the Day:
I’ve always had this very vague idea that if we lived in a communist society there would probably be more order. Marx had a simple idea and it was to establish this kind of equality so there was no getting ahead and no one getting left behind, but as fascist capitalistic money hungry bastards we see this as the biggest sin of them all, because if I’m the creator of this corporation I want everything even if I don’t know how to make my goods and I think its better quality if I ship all my goods to a sweatshop in Asia. Communism is a good fit, we just need to work out the kinks, and I believe Marx is right though — I believe the capitalist system will soon fail.
- Evalise Salas
To see the readings, exercises and media used today, click here.