27 May 2018, Beijing

Today was the last day of the Academy of Failure workshop in Beijing. As on the first day, we started with five short presentations by the artists. They shared their positive experiences of dealing with failure in daily life.

In the afternoon, the participants began to brainstorm a ‘Book of Failure’ as the outcome of this workshop. The group, consisting of artists, academics, social activists, and young scholars from Tsinghua University, gathered some ideas to produce this book, which is intended to be used as teaching material outside of the classroom. Again, it was emphasized that this book is not to be viewed as a ‘successful’ and ‘traditional’ peer-reviewed academic publication. The plan is to publish online and also in hard copy in China.

After two inspiring days, each participant spoke out with their idea for this book, with each contribution representing a failure in their own thought.  Here I list some of their ideas:

  • Jeroen de Kloet (University of Amsterdam): A visual diary of Ernie, failure to perform normativity, boredom. Happy performance
  • Giselinde Kuipers (University of Amsterdam): A failed textbook, first-year course of sociology, doesn’t lead anywhere, full of QR codes, loops, self-referential
  • Sandy: A diary of failure, suffering from the emotions brought on by failure
  • Xiaolan Lin (International Institute for Asian Studies): To visualize/ document the failure workshop through photos, highlighting the ‘positive’ details in each selected photo
  • Eric Feng Fan (Tsinghua University): Freedom to take breaks, class of failure, open-ended classes, projects, working out a pedagogy right away
  • Daisy Tam (Hong Kong Baptist University): Soliciting joker cards, excluded personality, layout design, short paragraph

As a program observer, I was honored to be invited to join the workshop, and I was glad to be in a place where I’m familiar with the cultural context.  The artistic aspect of the presentations opened up a new dimension and gave me a fresh pair of eyes, allowing me to observe the world differently. Also, I really enjoyed getting to know a group of very warm and creative people in Beijing.

Xiaolan Lin

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