From the Students of the Faculty of Fine Arts at UdK Berlin, 22.07.2009
Each year, Open House Day at the Berlin University of Arts provides a glimpse of work and education inside Germany´s largest art school for about 10.000 people. But while the university chairman Martin Rennert was inaugurating this year's show on Jul 16th in the school courtyard, students blocked the main entrance with fences and banners. The students were protesting against an obscure appointment procedure for an open professorship in New Media at the Faculty of Fine Arts, demanding the recognition of the student vote as well as the implementation of the decision of the appointments committee for the internationally renown artist Hito Steyerl as professor.
While more than 25% of students actively support these claims, the outcome of the proceedings is unclear even after several rounds of voting in the faculty board. It remains to be seen whether the hitherto unrepresented area of film and video will be filled with a qualified professor.
The political situation at the UdK already fell under critical media scrutiny in 2006. Back then, the students boycotted Open Day with the campaign „Ausser Haus“ (Outdoors) to protest the resignation of professors Stan Douglas, Daniel Richter and Tony Cragg. Since then, nothing seems to have changed inside the faculty, which continues to ignore the students' input into their own education.
The former video class of Stan Douglas has been without a tenured professor for more than 3 years and is now campaigning alongside student representatives of the Fine Arts faculty and the autonomous student body Interflugs for the appointment of Hito Steyerl. Her work as filmmaker and author in the area of essay film, postcolonial theory, feminism and cultural globalisation addresses precisely those topics missing from the course offerings at UdK that the students want. Under the pretext of administrative proceedings, their interests have consistently been ignored.
Karoline Kreissl, speaker of the General Student Union comments:
"As long as the votes of different groups (professors, students and mid-level faculty) are distributed unequally within university panels, the appointment of professors can be blocked by factional squabbles among the faculty. The blame lies with the professors."
The blockade of Open House Day led to an appointment between the university chairman and students on Jul 24th. Now, Martin Rennert is called upon to mediate between the claims of students and the faculty board. If this does not produce binding results, the students are ready to pursue further actions.
Karoline Kreißl. AstA UdK: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vincent Grunwald, Tutor der Hito Steyerl Klasse: email@example.com