The School is a conceptual artwork in the form of a school.
It is a progression from my CA$H 4 GUN$ project: a living art installation that bought guns off the street, in an attempt to bridge the divide between the libertarian value of individual freedom, and the irksome reality that gun control works. CA$H 4 GUN$ ran during the 2015 New Orleans Biennial and was set in the 8th Ward of New Orleans, in a functioning car wash / sweets shop in the heart of one of the highest gun-death neighbourhoods in the United States. By offering private money for guns, the project skirted Second Amendment issues, employing the libertarian values of private enterprise and the free market to establish a kind of ‘gun control’. Integral to the installation was a free recording studio called The Embassy, which is still in operation: a place where young people can lay tracks with platinum rap producer Mr Serv-On, of No Limit Records. The idea is for neighbourhood boys to trade killing for creativity—to get too busy rapping about it to actually do it.
The question that arose during the course of CA$H 4 GUN$ was: Why do libertarians love gun freedom? Besides loving freedom for the sake of freedom—why is gun freedom, in particular, so sacred? It is sacred because it is an amendment to the constitution, put in place by the founding fathers to protect the people. From what? The government. The people needed to be prepared to overthrow the government, should it turn despotic and act against them. The Second Amendment is the right to a militia, ensuring that the people have at all times the tools necessary to defend themselves against the potential injustices of government. This revolutionary zeal on behalf of the founding fathers is the reason the second amendment exists.
Considering this, two things came up.
1. Guns are no longer appropriate tools for overthrowing the government. The government has drones and bigger guns and telescope lenses stronger than the Hubble Space Telescope used to study galaxies—pointed directly towards Earth.
2. If guns don’t make a militia, what does? Hacking. Hacking is the new gun. Forget guns. Hacking is what the Second Amendment should protect for (along with encryption). Hacking is also far less dangerous to the quality of life of Americans than guns, particularly those in already disadvantaged (or as David likes to put it, rights-denied) neighbourhoods.
Hence The School.
The School is Mona’s school-as-art-installation in New Orleans’ 8th Ward. It is a community centre, but we refuse to apply that dorky, do-gooder term. It offers the best education in cyber security, astronomy, beauty, health and fitness (physics and physiques). It is Black Mountain College distilled (meaning it’s really cool. I LOVE the old Black Mountain College). The School is unmarked—it is a secret. From outside, the building blends seamlessly into the blighted fabric of the ghetto. A subtle biometric security reader activates a secret door: inside, the academy gleams. In extreme contrast to the street, it is slick, ultra-modern, perfectly symmetrical, and shockingly luxurious.
The School’s programs include:
Students learn to break the internet, bit by bit, in collaboration with Ivy League legends. Think world domination by way of code, makers’ workshops, active hacking and learning, theory, ethics / how to avoid jail, and systems thinking.
Rather than ‘degrees’, students meet peer-assessed milestones—just like in the real world. And, after only two years, they’ll possess the relevant skills to make some serious money.
The Makeup of the Universe
Students learn about the stars—Miss Universe and the universe—while earning a degree in beauty. Guest lecturers include Nobel Prize winner Brian P Schmidt who discovered that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. He’s the recipient of our inaugural makeover.
Where conceptual art meets exercise: students act out inner darkness and human archetypes in muscle building aerobic-style, inspired by Carl Jung. Accidental lols included.
Classes take place in open, outdoor spaces, as well as a gymnasium filled with equipment designed by artists and engineers.
24 Carrot Gardens
A kitchen garden program where local families learn to grow, prepare, eat and share fresh produce. Kids will learn small business skills via selling their yield in an on-site social enterprise stall / restaurant.
Trade killing for creativity: students lay tracks, produce records, write lyrics, and participate in delivery and recording workshops led by esteemed producers. * Mic drop. *
Where art meets biological building and research. Students learn the ethics of bioengineering (controversial terrain), create non-toxic nail polishes, designer genes (and jeans), and everything in between—including ways in which we could turn the entire building into a living organism. We’re of the opinion that technology is becoming biology: ‘it’ becomes ‘them’, and then it becomes ‘us’. So, what will it be? Or should that be ‘us’?