Copenhagen: How to do Things with Academia

Symposium, June 16-18, 2011

Engaging in a dialogue with two previous symposiums, Humanities Unplugged (Berlin,
2010) and Collective Futures (London, 2011), the aim of this symposium is to extract a
set of collaborative, academic practices, which can be utilized, enacted, and transformed
by collective endeavors within and beyond academia.

The symposium is particularly concerned with three perspectives: practices of
knowledge production, collective performativity, and the boundaries of academia. These
issues have already been scrutinized in the previous symposiums through workshops,
presentations, games, and discussions, which sought to open up the personal to the
collective, the theoretical to the practical, the rational to the affective, and the academic
to what is not academia.

In an attempt to think reflectively on these practices, the Copenhagen symposium will
engage with the format of the manual. The manual usually operates as an instructional
assistance for assemblage or usage and is supplied with most consumer products.
Ideally, the manual offers an intelligible step-by-step account of ‘how to…’ enabling the
user to acquire and utilize new knowledge for practical purposes.

The Copenhagen symposium intends to take the manual beyond its confined scope and
instead – learning from numerous artistic practices, e.g. Conceptual art and Fluxus or
more recently the publication Do it edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist – to inhabit the format
differently. Not by usurping the stagnant format that self-confidently claims to have the
only correct solution to our problems, but rather to use the manual as a format, which
enables a reflection on a practice: The manual as being preoccupied with how to do a
specific thing and intended for the sharing of this knowledge. We wish to sound out the
potential of the manual to make change by our own means in the context of academia
today. In this spirit we propose to create a provisional collection of manuals on how we
can redo academia.

We invite people to submit manuals for collective practices of knowledge
1) Work individually or collectively, the latter is encouraged
2) Decide on an action you would like to develop further at the symposium
3) Create a preliminary manual that includes a short description of how to do the action
4) Consider including visual illustrations
5) Reflect on theoretical perspectives of the action
6) Are you a professor? The above goes for you as well
7) Do not follow this manual when not suited for your action

The manuals will be collectively discussed, transformed, developed, and enacted at the
symposium and eventually distributed publicly.

Participation in the previous symposiums is not necessary and new participants are very welcome to propose manuals (academic background is not required)

We welcome manuals on different actions:
• Manuals on being present
• Manuals on being undisciplined
• Manuals on designing critical experiences
• Manuals on participation
• Manuals on repairing situations
• Manuals on being a general public
• Manuals on affective mapping
• Manuals on engaging with public spaces and the people who inhabit them
• Manuals on being a good / bad academic
• Manuals on academic self-help
• Manuals on living and thinking about the limits of academia, disciplines and
• Manuals on none of the above

please send your manual to:
Expected ECTS credits: 4

Due to a tight budget and for planning, please let us know a.s.a.p. if you prefer a single
hotel room, or if you are willing to share with another person (of own choice).
For further information on the previous symposiums, see

As an add-on to the Copenhagen symposium, we will be conducting a post-symposium field trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde (20 minutes by train from Copenhagen) on Sunday, June 19.

At this time, the museum has just opened an exhibition called ‘Trauma 1-11 – Tales on The Copenhagen Free University and the surrounding society in the last 10 years’. The Free University was a self-organized institution established in 2001 by Danish artists Henriette Heise and Jakob Jakobsen in their own apartment in Copenhagen.

We are still in the midst of planning the visit, but we do expect that both artists and the museum director will be around to introduce the exhibition and perhaps facilitate a discussion.

As we are offering to cover your accommodation until Sunday anyway, we hope that a lot of you will be able to join us on the trip. We will forward more information later, for now just consider to book your return flight from Copenhagen late Sunday evening. We expect the symposium to start around 2 pm on Thursday, June 16.

1 Response to Copenhagen: How to do Things with Academia

  1. Pingback: A manual on how to scrabble-a-manual | SYNTHETICA

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