1. Speech is silver, Silence is golden:

     First, I have to admit that my first reaction echoes that of Drs.
     Hoogeveen. Talking about the AKI brings one in a serious dilemma:
     Either one opens ones mouth and gets shot, or one is silent and is
     therefore also responsible for the shooting down of others.

     So let's try a little pragmatic logic: If I do not speak then I can
     not blame others if they do things I disagree with. If I am shot down
     then the shooters will have to survive without my assistance. Is it
     possible that even the shooters are beginning to realize this? Funny
     how in Holland its always the person I trap with their hand in my
     pocket, or in bed with my wife, who claims that bygones should be
     bygones and the past forgotten! How can the prisons ever be full in a
     land with such nice and innocent people?

     Nevertheless, it is an exiting scenario for book or film. Against the
     background of the sinking ship a few bodies reach the life boat. A
     motley crew; pirates, mutineers, card sharps, pickpockets and rogues
     plus a handful of terrified innocent passengers. Until the sinking
     it had been dog eat dog on board, a merciless rat race for individual
     survival. Suddenly the situation is radically changed. Nobody even
     knows if there is enough food and water on board, because nobody is
     really certain in which direction the nearest safe harbour lies, the
     direction of prevailing currents and winds, or even the weather
     forecast for the next few days (or should it be weeks or months?).
     There is no motor or sail and no instruments for navigation. People
     begin to suspect the only way to survive is to combine resources and
     skills. However, this is a gambol because there is no guarantee that
     everybody can survive the trip and until now cooperative discussion and
     decision making skills have been rejected in favour of individual
     power politics. Levels of trust are not very high, and yet honour among
     thieves should (must) be possible if some are to survive (but who, and
     under what conditions). In the meantime, the plots begin to hatch, the
     sharks begin to gather and in the distance enemy submarines are
     searching, probably with the intention of destroying survivors. Who is
     the enemy and who will survive?

 2. A Future for the AKI?

     Perhaps we should not ask HOW to preserve the AKI until we have
     answered WHY we should preserve the AKI. The WHY will then probably
     suggest the HOW.

     Is the AKI to be preserved to provide employment for its staff, or
     does it have some valuable role to fulfill?

     Without a philosophical basis, all discussion degenerates to personal
     infighting to preserve the personal position. Without a philosophical
     basis the AKI cannot survive and without a philosophical basis the
     AKI has no right to survive.

 3. Too Many Artists?

     First I would have to know what does one mean by an "Artist".

     From my own experience (based on my own definitions) I would say there
     are too few artists in the Netherlands. I have met many people who have
     complained that their income and their social status was too low. Many
     people have claimed that ART is of great social significance and yet
     few can tell what this significance is. Many are full of their own
     importance and yet few can impress with the depth and diligence of
     their artistic research. Many claim to have learned to express
     themselves and yet few express selves which would seem worth

     If artists are small business people selling whimsical decorations
     for street corners and living room walls then there probably are too
     many for the market to bear. If this is what we are training students
     for then perhaps the AKI cannot be small enough!

     If artists have something to do with the intelligent processing of
     information through material and sensory systems then perhaps they are
     socially relevant. If this is what we are helping students towards
     then perhaps the AKI cannot be too big!

     If teachers are not capable of defining themselves and their working
     relationship with others then they should not be teaching. If the
     art school cannot create itself then it cannot expect to teach others
     to create anything.

 4. The Emperor's New Cloths or A Survival System against Global Warming?

     I read in the first thinktank report that the famous AKI-philosophy
     never existed. Should we be pleased with this information?

     Does this mean that a period of Stalinistic terror based on the defence
     of a non-existent ideology has just ended? Are we now allowed to think
     and express ourselves freely, to formulate and explore new aims,
     theories and methodologies?

     Or does this mean that the age of idealism, of thought, philosophy and
     inspired creative research are now definitely behind us? That we must
     forget these meaningless ghosts and learn to accept the grey pragmatism
     of our brave new world, united in our conformity and our acceptance of
     Big Brother's infinite love.

 5. A Thematic Questionnaire as navigational Aid:

    a. Sense and Sensibility -The Aesthetics of Dialectics

          Are aesthetics still relevant in Art and Design?
          Are aesthetics relevant in Social and Political Practice?

          Theory and Practice  -Support or Conflict?
                               -The lie and the truth?
                               -What is thought without action or action
                                without thought?
                               -Is it better to think without seeing or
                                to see without thinking?
                               -Can one learn by doing without thinking?

          Idealism and Realism -Defining the potential or the existing?
                               -Exploring that which is flexible and
                                that which is fixed
                               -Is an artist an idealist or a realist?
                               -Is a designer a realist or an idealist?

          Is anything ever completely true?
                               -If no, how false is true and how true is
                               -If yes, what do we do with that which is
                                false or that which we do not agree with?
                               -In an ugly world is beauty not false?
                               -In a beautiful world is not ugliness the
                                mirror of beauty, proving its truth?
                               -can men then truly claim that beauty and
                                ugliness, or truth and falsity, are
                                symmetric and therefore equal?

          Can conflicts be resolved satisfactorily without aesthetics?
          Can there be aesthetics without dialectics?
          Can there be dialectics without identities or values?

     b. Borders, Values, Rules and Consequences -Mixed Media and Media Art:

          What is the value and meaning of disciplines (specialization)?
          What does it mean to preserve borders and what does it mean to
          dissolve them?

          How can one investigate the different possibilities if there
          are no differences?

          How can we express ourselves if we all use the same language
          and how can we communicate if we all use different languages?

          How can we communicate if we hide behind our borders but what is
          there to communicate if we do not preserve them?

          How can differences be used to enhance each other instead of
          destroying each other?

    c. Art and Design -Similarities and Differences:

          Are there fundamental differences between art and design?
                               -How autonomous is design and how
                                applied is art?

          How much do the basic educational needs of artists conflict or
          support those of designers, and vice versa?

          What is the position of the Artisan/Craftsman in relationship to the
          Artist and the Designer?

      d. The Aims of Art and/or Design Education:

          What kind of people is the education or training aiming to

          Which basic skills are required and how can they be developed?
          Which specialized skills are required and how can they be developed?

          What happens to students who fail to achieve the required
          standards and have they been helped towards developing skills
          potentially useful in other fields?

          What happens to students who achieve the required standards but
          fail to be economically independent? Have they been helped towards
          developing skills potentially useful for survival?

          How can one improve standards of quality if one does not specify
          what the aims and standards are?

     e. The Position of Art and/or Design Education:

          How much is an art college an institute for education, training,
          entertainment, (social, philosophical or psychological) therapy,
          recreation, or employment opportunities for artists?

          How much is being an Artist/Designer a profession, a calling
          or an infectious mental illness?

          Is visual art more related to visual design than it is to other
          non-visual art forms?

          Is design more related to art than it is to technology?

          Should Art and/or Design Education (together or apart) be part
          of a University (theoretical) education system, a HBO (practical)
          education system or an independent and separate system?

          Do we want a single location? With whom are we to share? Where
          do we build the walls and where should the windows, the doors,
          the corridors and the lifts be put?

          How important are the canteen, the cafe, the pub, the massage
          parlor, the city plaza, the baths, the pump, the village green
          or the garden of contemplation?

 6. A Government Health Warning!

       Enclosed is an article from the "Volkskrant" dated 10 May 1996 which
       if I understand it correctly says:

             a). The Ministry has for years had everybody running around
                 like crazy, apparently reorganizing the education system,
                 while in fact (for the pupils) it has been a waste of time
                 and effort.

             b). Nobody knows why some schools are better than others but
                 two main factors in bad schools are inefficient use of
                 resources (time) and lack of pedagogical philosophy.

             c). The quality of Management is most important. Good management
                 implies filtering (i.e. ignoring) the flow of garbage from
                 the government and molding it into intelligent practice.

       In other words: define yourself by molding your environment so that
       you both fit into each other. Perhaps, developing and transmitting
       skills that enable students to do this is a reasonable basis for
       art eduction. An art college which cannot do this for itself probably
       does not deserve to survive!

                                                        Trevor Batten
                                                      Amsterdam, May 1996