Leaping head first into the rabbit hole is an interesting experience, not knowing what lies ahead and what may show up. Somehow, not sure how now, I came across something called the School of Uncommon Knowledge. The name definitely intrigued me from the get-go. A rather bold statement. What is uncommon?
There is an infinite amount of knowledge in the world, yet only a small portion gets imparted in our schools. We see some people as being in the position to ‘teach’ while others can only passively be ‘taught’. In a society obsessed with grades and and the prestige of one’s school, education is frequently reduced to a means to an end.
The School of Uncommon Knowledge questions what we typically think “education” involves and is a platform for uncommon knowledge to be imparted by unexpected people.
School of Uncommon Knowledge
The Black Box at Substation in Singapore was converted into a by-barter learning space for November in 2016. A open call for “teachers” and ideas went out, seeding the scheduled 33 workshops. The “School” was looking to share life experience, to get people who may not consider themselves teachers, experts, or specialists to bring interesting ideas. It is about sharing. We are actually all experts at something; we just have to figure it out.
Back to the Future: A Manifesto Residency
The brainchild of artists Lai Yu Tong and Marcus Yee.
Their bios are short and sweet –
Lai Yu Tong is an artist interested in ideas of banality, exhaustion and velocity. He enjoys writing instructions, conducting durational exercises, and making music about mundane and ignored everyday phenomenon. His practice aims to propose new alternatives to everyday living.
Marcus Yee is an artist based in Singapore. His research interests revolve around urban phenomenology and new materialisms. For leisure, he writes about art on his blog: www.rightafters.tumblr.com.
Yu Tong and Marcus made available a good selection of manifestos, fodder for our discussions of what we felt was or was not a manifesto. For most people, a manifesto is likely a political statement like the Communist Manifesto. Check out this list for more manifestos.
Chris Guillebeau’s Art of Non-Conformity (part of his World Domination Manifesto):
The Art of Non-Conformity
- Set Your Own Rules
- Live the Life You Want
- Change the World
- You must be open to new ideas
- You must be dissatisfied with the Status Quo
- You must be willing to Take Personal Responsbility
- You must be willing to Work hard
The aim was for participants to write a Manifesto, which was a tall order, unless you already have a strong and clear vision. In the end, we created one out of two manifestos that we were especially drawn to.
As an example of a manifesto and one he likes, Yu Tong introduced Yvonne Rainer’s No Manifesto (1965) whose purpose was to reduce dance to its essential elements. Yu Tong agreed with it. I didn’t. So naturally my mashup was juxtaposing the No Manifesto and the Yes Manifesto.
No Manifesto by Yvonne Rainer (1965)
No to spectacle.
No to virtuosity.
No to transformations and magic and make-believe.
No to the glamour and transcendency of the star image.
No to the heroic.
No to the anti-heroic.
No to trash imagery.
No to involvement of performer or spectator.
No to style.
No to camp.
No to seduction of spectator by the wiles of the performer.
No to eccentricity.
No to moving or being moved.
Yes Manifesto by Mette Ingvartsen (2004)
Yes to redefining virtuosity
Yes to conceptualizing experience, affects, sensation
Yes to materiality/body practice
Yes to investment of performer and spectator
Yes to expression
Yes to excess
Yes to “invention” (however impossible)
Yes to un-naming, decoding and recoding expression
Yes to non-recognition, non-resemblance
Yes to non-sense/illogic
Yes to organizing principles rather than fixed logic systems
Yes to moving the “clear concept” behind the actual performance of
Yes to methodology and procedures
Yes to animation
Yes to style as a result of procedure and specificity of a proposal.
Yes to complexity
Naturally, I dedicated my Frankenstein manifesto to Yu Tong. Basically I picked a few of the No’s, followed by some of the Yes’, and ended with…
Yes. Yes, because lie is messy and humans are complicated.
Life is questions unfulfilled, poetry, disasters, surprised, broken relationships, shadows and darkness,
and life is about how we move through them,
Say Yes to life.
Say Yes because magic is afoot
and Anything is possible.