Wax and Gold - Knowledge as we don't know it, 7,5 credits (Summer course 2021)

Course leader: Professor Loulou Cherinet

"Wax and Gold" (from the Amharic expression "Sem ena Werq") is an Ethiopian literary tradition and discourse that plays with double entendre and ambiguity. As literary genre it can be divided into a dozen different styles, or ways in which meaning is distributed over multiple semantic layers. In the course Wax and Gold, Knowledge as we don't know it attention is focused on perspectives and practices of ambiguity, uncertainty and indeterminacy, on the ways in which art hold information both for and from us and how a certain disdain for the known concur and disagree with global anticolonial struggle or the Black Radical Tradition.

Course content
The course will develop around a series of lectures and talks with Ethiopian artists, poets, scholars, journalists, filmmakers, musicians, art curators and playwriters – based in Ethiopia and elsewhere in its diaspora – that seek to trace the notion of Wax and Gold beyond its historical definitions and source its contemporary practice and possible foundation for critical hermeneutics and epistemology.

Through reading, responding writing assignments, group discussions and time for individual artistic work the course also provide opportunity for a subsequent study of how the presented perspectives and practices inform:
a) the students own artistic practice and output
b) ideas regarding the nature of knowledge
c) the act of interpretation

In this way, the course will also introduce concepts such as "epistemic violence", "cognitive justice" or "epistemicide" and probe what it means to establish a connection between what is known and unknown in the contexts of art and culture, critical studies and epistemologies of the Global South.

Learning process
This course set out to develop knowledge and enrich students' artistic approaches through improvisation and a collective practice of "rotary perception" around Wax and Gold as an imagined beat. In his autobiography Beneath the Underdog jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus writes about his concept of "rotary perception";

"People used to think the notes had to fall on the centre of the beats in the bar at intervals like a metronome, with three or four men in the rhythm section accenting the same pulse. That's like parade music or dance music. But imagine a circle surrounding each beat — each guy can play his notes anywhere in that circle and it gives him a feeling he has more space. The notes fall anywhere inside the circle, but the original feeling for the beat isn't changed. If one in the group loses confidence, somebody hits the beat again. The pulse is inside you. When you're playing with musicians who think this way, you can do anything."

Guest speakers and interlocutors
A preliminary list of invited guest speakers and interlocutors will be published on this website in March and regularly updated in the spring as participants are confirmed.

The course is a 10 week summer course with activities planned in four parts:

June week 24-25: Introductory lectures and responding writing assignments
This part will take place online with live streamed lectures and discussions with invited international guest speakers.

July week 26-30: Individual artistic practice and reading groups
One programmed individual tutorial, otherwise not teacher-led independent work with texts and assignments. Self-organised group study.

August week 31-32: In-depth lectures, studio visits and artist talks
This part of the course will again take place online but this time Loulou Cherinet will organise live streamed and/or pre-recorded programme from Addis Ababa.

August week 33: Final seminar and student presentations with collegial response
Two days online final event.

Intended learning outcomes

After completing the course, the student is should be able to;

 – briefly describe the styles of the Wax and Gold tradition and exemplify how it has informed contemporary art and literature, popular culture and philosophy in Ethiopia
– exercise multiple tropes of ambiguity, double entendre, indeterminacy and uncertainty in a work of art or literary composition
– identify how epistemologies situated in Ethiopia and Sweden diverge 
– explain and discuss concepts such as epistemic violence, cognitive justice, epistemicide and epistemic oppression
– discuss and evaluate contemporary attempts to decolonize art institutions, artistic practice and knowledge production

Entry requirements
60 credits within the field of Fine Art (including curating art), or within the field of Literary Composition (including both Creative Fiction and Nonfiction), or equivalent  experience.
And, proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish upper secondary school course English 6 / English B.

The selection between eligible applicants is based on applicants' letter of motivation and portfolio.

Course period: 14 June - 22 August 2021
Study pace:
50% of full time studies
Course syllabus in English
Course syllabus in Swedish
The course is taught in English
Maximum amount of participants: 15


How to apply!

Apply at universityadmissions.se (antagning.se for Swedish speaking applicants):

When applying to Konstfack you submit an online application to the Swedish central application website www.universityadmissions.se, and upload supporting documents.
(antagning.se for Swedish speaking applicants)

- upload/submit qualifications to support the entry requirements
60 credits within the field of Fine Art (including curating art), or within the field of Literary Composition (including both Creative Fiction and Nonfiction), or equivalent professional experience within Fine Art and Literary Composition.

And, proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish upper secondary school course English 6 / English B.

- upload letter of motivation and portfolio as two (2) PDF files:

1) Letter of motivation (MAX 1 page): Please present yourself, your academic background, ongoing artistic practice, related work experience and your reasons for applying for the course.

2) Portfolio (MAX 6 pages): Please share compiled documentation of relevant working experience and artistic output.

Technical specifications
File format: PDF
The PDF documents must not be password protected.

Name your files accordingly: Last name_Letter and Last name_Portfolio