In the face of over 60 million people migrating today and given the current political situation in Europe with the rising of xenophobia and populist political movements, it becomes imperative to invent new means of bringing people together in a society, without however homogenising them or subjecting them to class hierarchies, social stereotypes and identity politics of all kind. In her essay "We Refugees," (1943) philosopher Hannah Arendt argues for the right of migrants to be politically active and to participate in social practices while acknowledging in them “the vanguard of their peoples.” When we see the migrant as “the political subject of the 21st century” we necessarily call into question established political principles while challenging notions such as global citizenship, democratic way of living and collective self-mastery. How are we all in Europe to learn and develop from this novel situation?
The exhibition is based on the belief that culture and education through shared knowledge are the best means to achieve this goal. With the present artistic research project, we want to create a practice- based model of a “community of teachers and learners" (universitas magistrorum et scolarium), to develop a new form of shared knowledge, which remembers its origin as a "community," the literal meaning of the word “Universitas". We want to set a new paradigm by developing a place of study and horizontal transmission of knowledge for the less privileged that demonstrates the cancellation of existing biopolitical exclusion of migrants. “Learning by doing" is what we aim for in the experiment, the means of which will be a collective writing of a history of the current situation.
The UNIVERSITAS exhibition follows a series of workshops offered by artists from Syrian, Greece and Germany in the Eleusis camp, the Skaramangas camp, the Chora community center in Exarxia and at the premises of Athens Biennale at Varvakeios and at Bageion.