Day five was the final day of what felt like a real beginning. The group spent the morning feverishly reading, writing and adding to our shared, constantly evolving “Pirate Pad.” “Pirate Pad” served as the site from which our collective scholarship sprung. During the second half of the day, decisions regarding the layout and presentation of our text were made. The group reached consensus on book title, chapter names, and the order in which the books various ingredients would appear. We considered academic scholarship, interviews, reflections, illustrated works and negotiated where they would be situated in relation to each other. Finally, members of the Book Sprint reflected on the 5-day workshop: our process, challenges, roadblocks, and solutions for future collective actions.
I believe we left the space feeling challenged, inspired and eagerly anticipating the next step. With Hannah Arendt in our hearts, and minds filled with more questions than when we arrived, each member of the Book Sprint returned to their everyday praxis, continuing to work and reflect on the book that was born at The New School.
On day four, participants mediated thinking groups based on shared interests. A discussion on “work” explored its meaning and evaluation. The conversation on “Fashion education” challenged the role of the institution in education and in making/praxis. Throughout all five days, there was much talk about thinking versus making, theory versus practice, and how to transform the “versus” of these formulations into a synthesizing force, such as a “while” or an “and.”
“If you want to innovate, you need to create the right setting for it. The only thing that makes innovation is chance, and what creates chance is chaos.”
Day Three consisted of breaking out into pairings and interviewing one another. The “six questions” that evolved from the Book Sprint were formulated not only for the purposes of interviewing persons abroad, but also for better understanding the context, research interests, praxis and methodology of each person in attendance.
Our six questions, evolving out of much debate and consideration, are:
- Why is fashion powerful today?
- Who makes fashion?
- Where does fashion exist?
- What makes fashion political?
- When did you personally experience the power of fashion?
- What can fashion do?
We created ink drawings and collages on this day, illustrating some of the questions, challenges and points of entry that characterized the workshop.
The feat of the day was in generating interview questions. The group debated how we might create a series of questions that were specific to the theme of Fashion and Politics, but that also allowed a point of entry for people of all disciplines. We hoped to keep the questions open but specific, accessible and concise. We also wanted to create a space in which interviewees might also share pieces of their own personal narrative(s), without feeling pressured or manipulated by the questions posed.
Transparency and a sincere desire to respect the multiplicity of ideologies and vantage points were at the heart of our aims. Emerging from day two was a clear desire to create a dialogue that did not shy away from the hard questions, but that propelled our inquiries even further, opening the dialogue up to any persons not in attendance.