The video installation "About Academia II" presented in a virtual way. Photo: Reproduction of the website

Ainitially presented in 2011 and 2017, the two stages of the project About Academy, by the Spanish author Antoni Muntadas, expose a complex picture of the role of universities today, their functions and contradictions. Taking the North American case as a starting point, the artist presents, through video installations, a series of interviews with professors and academics (in About Academy I) and with students (in About Academia II), proposing a reflection on the relationship between public and private, tradition and contemporaneity, the place of art in the university, interdisciplinarity and the future of higher education institutions.

Originally exhibited in on-site exhibitions, the two works - which have already been mounted in several countries - arrive in Latin America for the first time in a virtual way, as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, from a partnership between the Permanent Forum, the Institute of Advanced Studies at USP (IEA) and the José e Guita Mindlin Brasiliana Library. The new version, with translations in Portuguese and Spanish, transports the environment of the facilities – each one made in three channels, with videos of the interviews, texts and images of the university campuses – to the computer screen. The work, accompanied by contextualizations, is available from this Friday, April 30th (click here).

The virtual environment displays “About Academia I”, on the left, and “About Academia II”, on the right. Photo: Reproduction of the website

“This project is an artifact, almost an anthropological artifact to be activated. It represents a particular context and examines issues that are relevant over a longer period of time and in a particular place. It is an instrument to open a discussion”, said Muntadas on the occasion of the inauguration of About Academia II, in 2017. For Martin Grossman, coordinator of the Permanent Forum, “Muntadas accurately identifies themes/concepts/situations that generate questions and estrangement, taking them out of the common place, from the comfort of what we consider as given, as established. (…) By problematizing the understanding of the academy, Muntadas exposes, lays bare the university, promoting debate and self-criticism”.     

As a way of deepening the discussion and broadening it from the Latin American context of the new exhibition, a roundtable with the participation of Muntadas himself will also be broadcast on the 30th, starting at 14 pm; the anthropologist, philosopher and professor at the IEA-USP Néstor Garcia Canclini (Mexico); the educator, socio-cultural activist and professor at the IEA-USP Eliana Sousa Silva; the educator and former State Secretary of MG Macaé Evaristo; philosopher, environmentalist and indigenous leader Ailton Krenak; and from Grossmann.

Spanish artist Antoni Muntadas. Photo: Andrea Nacach/ Publicity

On May 10, two more roundtables will bring together foreigners Nikki Moore (USA), David Gange (England), Julia Buenaventura (Colombia) and Mariko Murata (Japan) and Brazilians Naomar de Almeida Filho, Helena Nader, Guilherme Wisnik and Renato Janine Ribeiro. Somehow they expand the debate held in About Academy by important thinkers such as Noam Chomsky, David Harvey, Carol Becker and Ute Meta Bauer and by students from American colleges.

About Academia is a project originally presented at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, at the invitation of Harvard University, during Antoni Muntadas' last teaching period in the program in Art, Culture and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (ACT MIT), in 2011. Born in 1942 in Barcelona and based in New York since 1971, Muntadas is one of the pioneers in the use of video. Since the 1970s, his production has expanded to the use of various plastic languages, media and supports, with intervention in the public space being one of his forms of cultural criticism. Spanish also has a long history of dialogue with South America, especially Brazil, where he has held several exhibitions and taught courses in museums, biennials and institutions.

SERVICE: About Academia I-II, an online interpretation, 2011-2017 (2021)
Website access
From April 30th to October 31st, 2021

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