09.04.2018 - 03.05.2018, Postcards mailed to Hanover Project gallery, University of Central Lancashire, Preston.
Fifty years ago, during the occupation of Hornsey College of Art an anonymous postcard was delivered through the door of the college, addressed ‘To the Stupid Students’. It aggressively and contemptuously instructed the ‘useless’ students to stop bothering the decent citizens of the country and, presumably, sink back into a pattern of docility and conformity. The rhetoric of this postcard is not simply evidence of the self-regulatory power of what Foucault would call Disciplinary Society, but also a measure of the degree of societal alienation in modern capitalist society. That this degree of entrenched alienation causes the proletarian class seeks to draw battlelines between its own ranks, rather than the capitalist boss class is depressing and damning evidence of the latter’s hegemony. The most important aspect of the struggle of the students in ‘68 was to recognised as part of the proletariat, as intellectual and creative labourers. That this claim to equality fell on deaf ears was due largely to the a priori stratification of what the philosopher Jacques Rancière has called the ‘society of contempt’.
As a hauntology, but also as corrective, this artistic intervention seeks to rebalance the violence of the anonymous postcard delivered to Hornsey in 1968. A single postcard will be delivered to the gallery on each day of the exhibition. These postcards will be second hand images of Preston institutions founded by the Victorian philanthropist Edmund Robert Harris, including the Harris Institute, site of Preston’s first art school (1846-9), which until 2009 remained connected to art education, and the still extant Harris library, art gallery, and museum. Recently, the art school in Preston has been moved to more modern facilities at UCLAN, and the Harris Institute has fallen into the hands of private capital, and subsequently disuse and disrepair. This postcard intervention is therefore an attempt to reconnect the current students of UCLAN to their pedagogic and civic history, and also highlight the relationship between art education and the flows of capital. As second hand found objects, many of these postcards will have been sent through the mail previously, carrying convivialities and correspondences between the general public. No attempt will be made to disguise these previous traces of conviviality, which hopefully will help in some way to re-socialise the modern day students of UCLAN with the history, memory, and mythology of Preston. Text will be added to the found postcards from Raoul Vaneigem’s ‘The Revolution of Everyday Life’; a text which inspired the soixante-huitards fifty years previously due to its emphasis on creative spontaneity and everyday non-compliance as revolutionary method. By recycling critical theory through the medium of cut-up and collage, this work shares a methodological affinity with two of @.ac’s previous works, ‘Cut-Up Curriculum’ (2017) and ‘Conjuring Art & Language’ (2017), and should be considered as an extension of that investigation.
In contradistinction to the postcard of Hornsey 1968, the messages of these postcards will emphasise solidarity, positivity, collectivity and the possibility of creating a ‘community of equals’ in the face of a ‘society of contempt’.