The first week was spent at a conference for PhD students on visual methodologies at Aarhus University in Denmark. About 20 students from all over and doing very different PhDs came together to discuss the manner in which we choose to study visuality, and how traditional approaches can be remixed to fit the individual topics. The course was led by three wonderful women whose insight and ways of navigating academia was inspiring and ultimately it was more than I had hoped it would be. When I came to Germany, I expected students from various backgrounds and engaged lecturers wanting to discuss canonical works, as well as debating current trends and developments. It is a course in culture, language and media, but somehow it feels as though we stagnated for 18 months and are all feeling rather over it.
|The beach near my AirBnb|
Before Flensburg, I thought I had found my way. Academia would be where I wanted to spend my time, where I could learn and teach, where knowledge and interaction and working together would be valued, because that is how the department I was in worked (despite administrative bickerings). But the system at this university and the lecturers' attitude of simply not giving a fuck chipped away slowly at the desire to go into the same field. What if everyone, everywhere was like this? Would I want to spend my time surrounded by people who, outwardly at least, have no passion for their jobs, no wish to talk with the students, no desire to work with instead of against others. I am being unjust to this city, because it does have its beautiful moments and I do value the time spent, the wonderful apartment and the new friends made. And yet it took a little of an optimism that previously would not yield to mumblings of having to choose differently. Now I hear the whispers, ingest the insecurities, constantly overthink whether I can do this. Whereas I looked forward to whatever happens next, this place made me fear it.
Aarhus gave back a sliver of reassurance since I could see and talk to others who had struggled with the same thoughts. Aarhus also gave me music, a saviour in all cases.
|Ginger magic Jack Garratt.|
|Bruschetta Burger. Fancy.|
|Little tarts. Fancy #2.|
Sunday I decided that just chilling with the others was enough, so we grabbed some beers, stood in a queue for an hour to get a tshirt printed, saw the marvellous man that is Ben Howard and danced a bit to the final act of the festival: the Black Keys.
The next two days we used our research to formulate concrete findings and suggestions before presenting these before a panel from the festival and ReThink2017, a group charged with making Aarhus a cultural capital in the coming year.
I travelled back to Flensburg, chucked my dirty clothes on the floor, packed new ones, slept a little and went off on the next adventure.