25 May 2018, Beijing

On a sunny day, together with a group of artists, academics, social activists, young scholars and Tsinghua undergraduate students, I participated in a three-day workshop in Beijing: Academy of Failure: Pedagogies for the Unsuccessful. The venue was a traditional Hutong courtyard in central Beijing. The interior space is casual and cozy for a group of thirty participants.
This workshop is initiated and organized by Jeroen de Kloet from the University of Amsterdam. He is also one of the principle investigators of the Humanities across Borders program.
This workshop aims to explore to possibilities and impossibilities of failure for three different domains: pedagogies, creativity and activism.
The first day started with a series of short talks sharing the participants’ artistic interventions across Asia and Europe. Most artists shared the experiences of their daily practices on the micro scale. As an observer, I am amazed to witness the impact that the “small” art interventions have on the neighborhood/community, as well as the public awareness they generate. One example was an artist from Hong Kong who started a so called “home shop” installation in a Beijing neighborhood. Instead of a physical shop to sell products in a traditional sense, this window front played as exciting “open space” to engage the local residents with the neighborhood. Unfortunately this art project lasted only for a limited time and it “failed” due to financial and organizational reasons.

Xiaolan Lin

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