In establishing New World Academy (NWA),
artist Jonas Staal and
BAK conjoin their efforts to launch a new academy that invites political
organizations invested in the progressive political project to share with
artists and students their views on the role of art and culture in political
struggles. Together, they engage in critical thinking through concrete examples
of transformative politics and develop collaborative projects that question and
challenge the various frameworks of justice and existing models of
representation. NWA proposes new critical alliances between
art and progressive politics, so as to confront the democratic deficit in our
current politics, economy, and culture.
The first three sessions of NWA are
organized at BAK in collaboration with the cultural workers of the National
Democratic Movement of the Philippines, the collective of refugees We Are Here,
and the open-source advocates of the international Pirate Parties. Each
session is followed by collective public presentations, performances,
campaigns, and exhibitions.
The curriculum of NWA develops from
concrete case studies—models of cultural activism as both an imaginative and
practical force in shaping the democratic project—ranging from the educative
“protest puppetry” of the Maoist National Democratic Movement in the
Philippines and the cultural protests organized in the Netherlands by the
refugee group We Are Here, to the attempts by international Pirate Parties to
advance open-source models in favor of free, digital distribution of knowledge.
Demonstrating that the political and the cultural can indeed
cohabit the same plane, these examples propose an alternative collective
infrastructure to confront what Staal calls “democratism,” that is, “the
disastrous present of the world dominated by the condition of capitalist
democracy.” In recognizing the commonalities in the entangled discontents and
massive civil uprisings across the globe, NWA actively engages
the role of art within movements that challenge the maddeningly complex network
of contemporary power relations.