Experimental Graduate-Level Education for Women

The Anhoek School is an educational experiment. It investigates alternatives to traditional American education at a moment in time when many experimental schools have closed (Black Mountain School and Antioch College) or ceased to develop inventive and/or radical methodologies.

In short, The Anhoek School is an experimental all-women's graduate school located in Brooklyn, New York. The curriculum is based on cultural production (political, aesthetic, and theoretical). Classes are small (5 to 7 people). Tuition costs are mediated by a barter system; that is students labor for the school in exchange for classes.

SEE http://anhoekschool.org FOR CORE DATA

The 'mother site' (http://anhoekschool.org) contains:

0 Mission Statement
0 Course Descriptions
0 Campus Locations
0 Exchange Economy/ Tuition
0 Samples of Student Work
0 Student Podcasts

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Anhoek School-Marfa: Like Mark Twain?

On one of the first days of the Marfa course, "Stealing Horses: The Invention of Possession", class begins at the cemetery on the west side of town.

On one half lies a dirt plot studded with homemade cement headstones and the stick remains of rotted wooden markers, and a broken down shed with several empty beer cans resting on their side at the threshold of miles of ranch lands. The other half of the cemetery is markedly different; well-maintained store-bought headstones rest amongst grass and trees. The surnames on the broken and barren side are primarily Spanish, while the surnames on the other are primarily Anglo. Pronghorn antelope come to graze, wandering through either side. When they are ready to return to the plains they do not leap over the barbed wire fences but slide under the lowest wire; coyotes sometimes lie in wait at these thresholds, attacking their prey as they lay midway between one space and the next.

The class employs an old archaeological surveying technique, arranging themselves in an even line with roughly ten feet between each student. They slowly traverse the deserted graveyard, calling out any detail of interest: "Broken cross." "Plastic flower." "Homemade Grave." "Wire." "Wire. again." And so on. A cadence begins to take hold. It describes its institutional neglect, its makeshift graves, its desolation. Later, a friend in town tells me she cannot find her relatives' graves because the wooden markers have rotted and the burial map has been lost. I had requested the students to select a grave for themselves and draw it. I asked them to go through several writing exercises. Five months later, I am questioning whether these investigations, at the very least, recognized this fraught space as something to respectfully be made record of or if these interventions are as blasphemous as say... Mark Twain's riding of his horse through Hawaiian burial grounds. Twain's casual description is brazen; I forget, was he on his way to the ocean?