The Copycat Academy

June 9-15, 2014

The Theatre Centre

Toronto, Canada

Gabriel von Max ............................................................General Idea

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The Copycat Academy
is comissioned by Luminato festival
Evan Webber, Associate Producer
Sarah Lewis, research Berlin

>> Participants


“We started the first Mobile Academy in 1999 in Bochum, the last academy project was in 2006 in Warsaw as there were suddenly so many clever academy projects around, that we decided to move somewhere else. But the opportunity to create again an Academy with Luminato in 2014 was interesting. Luminato seems to be a festival that likes to polish the aura of the artist, if I may say so. I therefore thought it would be fun to work our Copycat Academy in at the opposite side and hijack this situation. And of course, General Idea is the perfect subject for this with their fictions, their pageantry, and their practice of taking over formats and reactivating them with new content. Above all of this, they have already told everything about themselves a long time ago.”
HH, January, 2014


The Copycat Academy
A weeklong master class with an absent master

A project by Hannah Hurtzig
Commissioned and produced by the Luminato Festival

Date: June 9-15, 2014
Place: The Theatre Centre, Toronto, Canada

The Copycat Academy takes the work and biography of an artist as the model for its curriculum. Over a one-week, intensive learning experience an artist's method of production will be hijacked and subjected to a temporary parasitic inhabitation. The 2014 pilot will start with one of the most influential artist collectives of the late 20th century, Toronto based General Idea. This is meant to be idolatry and cult. Or more precisely an act of mimicry. Or more accurately it is a critical test of thought and practice, a laboratory where 20 participants can observe the emergence of meaning while they occupy and replicate themselves in the host. It's a master class without a master. For the next edition we will choose another master.

Declaring the life and work of an artist to be the model of the curriculum does not mean becoming too personal however; feelings and thoughts are of the same interest as companions, working conditions, political events, technological tools, atelier furnishings, and weather patterns. After all, the sprung floor made modern dance, the crossfader made the DJ, and the felt and fat in the wreckage of a plane crash saved Joseph Beuys and made German art. The Copycat Academy needs to be imagined as a stage upon which a play is to be performed that bears the name of the artist. Actors enter the stage and improvise a play with the themes, people, and objects which define his/her life. There is no director, no script, and no audience, for all are actively involved.

The program/curriculum

On each day of this weeklong experience, participants in the The Copycat Academy will examine a different facet of our curriculum's work and thinking. The practical and theoretical investigations, studio visits and discussions will be led by artists, teachers and facilitators connected to General Idea: former comrades, critics, and theoreticians, as well as contemporary artists—both those building on General Idea's experiments and who have nothing to do with the collective's art practice but whose research follows a recursive path. The evening program will feature talks that will be open to the general public.

Copycat Talks:

June 12th | 8PM - 11.45PM
Kendell Geers: Following the Blind Man (Marcel Duchamp and the Voodoun Connection)
Kendell Geers is a conceptual and installation artist who was born in May, 1968 in Johannesburg, South Africa – he changed his name and birthdate officially as a political act of self-creation. In the late 1980s, he went into exile and only returned to South Africa after the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners. He lives in Brussels and has worked globally since 1993.

Kendell Geers, Photos Claudia Còrdova

June 13th | 8PM-10.15PM
Mårten Spångberg: Hijacking as Proactive Strategy
Mårten Spångberg is performance related artist living and working in Stockholm. His interests concern choreography in an expanded field. He approaches this through experimental practices in a multiplicity of expressions ranging from choreography to writing, teaching, the convention of networks, and by performing as a dancer himself.

Mårten Spångberg, Photo Claudia Còrdova

June 10th | 8PM-9PM
Jennifer Doyle: The Politics of Emotion in Contemporary Art
Jennifer Doyle is a Professor of English and Co-Chair of the LGBIT Studies Minor at University of California, Riverside, where she directs Queer Lab. Her newest book, Hold it Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art (2013), explores some of contemporary art’s most contentious works. Doyle shows how controversy in art is used to question our assumptions about identity, intimacy, and expression; and, she considers emotion as an artist's medium in the works of such artists as Ron Athey, Carrie Mae Weems, and David Wojnarowicz.

Photo Claudia Còrdova

June 10-13 | every day 12:30–1PM
Philip Monk speaks on Death, Glamour,Perversion,Plagiarism,and Collectifity in the work of "General Idea"
Philip Monk has been curator at The Power Plant in Toronto, curator of contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and is currently the director of the Art Gallery of York University. His most recent book is Glamour is Theft: A User's Guide to General Idea 1969-1978. The books mimics General Idea's practice, pretending to be written during the period of the works' production.

Philip Monk