MDES 15 - Finals, 'What Art Can Do', and the Festivities Begin…

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What Art Can Do

It’s the end of our final week of this semester, and I’m trying to recount the events, but it’s such a blur that it’s proving quite difficult. A week of presentations and hand-ins later and I’m ready for hibernation, but before I retreat to my bed for the foreseeable future, I’ll round things off with the pre-holiday blog.

Monday began with thesis proposal presentations. As our thesis’ are the basis of our personal projects, and one of the only projects where we don’t work as a team, it was quite a daunting task to put our ideas out into the open to be assessed. We presented to our lovely MTNM (MA/MFA in Transdisciplinary New Media) PCA neighbors, as well as the panel of judges, and waited for the results. I have to say, I felt very proud of our little family that morning – I think you could feel the passion we each had for our individual projects:

SMarti: challenging the world of plastic with innovative food packagings
Rica: using technology to provide a platform for marginalised communities [focusing on Favelas in Brazil]
Hanna: using speculative design and social fiction to democratise imagination [centered around the theme of universal basic income, of course]
Amy: tackling the refugee crisis through sports integration [as a social business model]
Me: challenging the phenomenon of fast fashion by enhancing human connections to clothing

The Team

On Monday evening, as part of our French assessment, I presented a painting by one of my favourite artists Joan Eardley to my classmates. I hope SO hard that my French is improving, I’d really love to finish this year with good ability, but ugh, my accent. [this, to all French people, I sincerely apologise for]

On Tuesday morning we concluded our Leadership Skills course. As a group, we presented our learnings and feedback on the MakeSense community programs – MOOC – to Sabine, Linda and Solene [as well as Rachel and Elsa via Skype]. The response to this was up lifting, everyone seemed to appreciate the feedback, and – of course – our role play of suggestions [thank you Hanna]. Afterwards, we headed to PCA to meet Alistair and Khadija and finish off plans for the ‘What Art Can Do’ event, which was being held in 2 days time. In the evening, Hanna and I decided to treat ourselves to a guilt free pint [how did we manage that?] – I dragged Hanna to a bar I knew served BrewDog, Scottish beer that I love, so I could have a little taste of home. Ok yes, they sell BrewDog in Monoprix, but it tastes better in a pint glass, inside a cosy pub amidst conversation of the history of Paris and Berlin and various feminist chit chat.

By Wednesday the 24 hour countdown for the event was on, so it was a day of tying up loose ends. I worked from home to finish up on work for our Social Entrepreneurship class, and collected some supplies for WACD. I also did some cooking, and watched Cosmos for some relaxation time [the voice of Neil Degrasse Tyson will forever soothe my soul].

Thursday was the day of the big event! I made my way to kisskissbankbank [the venue] in the AM, and didn’t leave all day. However, this is not a complaint, I was really excited and happy to be there for the ‘odd jobs’. The day was a combination of venue and exhibition set up, artists and speakers prep, odd jobs – oh and printing, printing and more printing [thanks Alistair]. With a few minor incidents along the way we were ready to begin on time, and at 6PM the guests began to arrive. The venue quickly began to fill up – a wonderful feeling – and there seemed to be a buzz in the air. Of course, it was our first event so things weren’t perfect [they never are, especially when tech is involved], but – all in all – WACD seemed to go down well. The artist exhibition and embroidery workshop sparked much interest, the speakers were inspiring, and the manifesto a triumph. This was just the first instalment of our WACD events, so don’t worry if you missed it, just watch this space – and our Facebook page – for the next one!

Oh, Paris

Friday was a day where sheer exhaustion took hold. We visited Living Lab in the afternoon, a really exciting space [where Smarti will be showing her work next year, as spoken about in the previous blog] centered around co-creation, exploration, and experimentation. Unfortunately, at this point, zombie mode had taken over a few of us, but I’m sure by our next visit we’ll be back to our usual enthusiastic selves.

We then made our way to MakeSense for the 4th – and final – presentation of the week: a showcase of our journeys with the social entrepreneurs we have worked with over the semester:

SMarti: Champerché [developing eco-friendly and healthy agriculture methods through bioponics]
Rica and Hanna: Mytroc [a trading community platform challenging the current economic system]
Amy: Réseau des Exilés en France and Kabubu [both working in refugee integration]
Me: Clothparency [making the production of clothing more transparent to encourage responsible buying]

On Saturday, KABUBU, REF, and Amy had organised a football tournament for refugees and the public – a great way to break down language barriers and encourage integration. It was an amazing event, and it won’t be the last. So if you like to kick a ball around, or just spectate and cheerlead, then please join us at the next one! On Saturday evening, Hanna, Rica and I went to a dance performance at Centre Pompidou: ‘Bacchantes – prélude pour one purge’. It was by far one of the most unusual things I have ever seen, but completely fascinating, and I loved it. Think David Lynch meets Berghain – I cannot stop thinking about it.

Which brings me back to today, where my hibernation period commences. Thank you for following us on our journey, and Happy Holidays folks, we will be back in 2018! But for now, space croissant out…