CFU /// The abz of the copenhagen free university
Black Mountain College, New Experimental College,
Drakabygget, the Spontaneous University, New York Free
University, London Anti-University, Berlin Kriticher Universität,
Detroit Artists’ Workshops.
A motor running in the background.
They never mentioned that learning could be a matter of a
‘desire to’ or a ‘desire for’. No. They left it so that we did not
know what our desires could be until it was to late, until we
desired the job and became emotionally attached to it.
Become one, become many. I and I.
With the Copenhagen Free University we have opened a
discussion about who and what define knowledge today and
the relationship between knowledge and life. Our work is
based on the understanding, that knowledge is social and that
all forms of human activity carries a level of knowledge. As
Antonio Gramsci wrote in his prison diaries from 1932: “All are
intellectuals […] but not all have the function of the intellectual in
Strike and disappear.
The Copenhagen Free University is a sphere of interest arising
from the material life we experience and will always already
be politicised before any citizenship. Our scope is both local
and global, looking for fellow travellers around the corner and
around the world.
Tuesday November the 20th 2001 a general election took
place in Denmark and what materialised was the natural
consequence of a decade of commonly accepted xenophobia
and racism in the Danish society: a government based on the
support of the far right is now a reality. This mess is raising
even more demands to the development of independent
institutions and new forms of political language in culture.
The effort to spend time outside capitalist production – by
running up the down escalator, by walking aimlessly around the
neighbourhood, by sleeping through the day, by daydreaming,
etc. etc. This is not leisure – leisure is part of the cycle of
productive behaviour – this is glorious waste.
‘And I will do’ is almost a fully functioning distribution network
for women making videos in Europe. It is a correspondence
video project, like an envoy from another city. If you are a
woman video maker, who would like to show your work to
other women video makers in Europe and the U.S.A. and see
the work of other women video makers, you can. If you can
send me a good copy of your video, I will transfer it onto a
compilation tape, with 10 other videos. Everybody on the tape
will receive a copy. Url: www.andiwilldo.net.
All Power to the smell of burnt money.
Let’s open a ski slope between passion and logic.
The crucial struggle is the struggle in the wilderness. There
is no direct route; directions will come as we go through the
wilderness of confused mornings, of neurotic social relations, of
opaque bureaucracy, of mental dead weight, of lack of money
at the supermarket check-out. As Marx wrote: “The revolution,
which finds here not its end, but its organisational beginning, is
no shortlived revolution.”
The decision to open a university was made because we would
like to get involved with the social processes which deals with
the valorisation of knowledge in a society. A university works
like a bank; both guarantee a system of value. The Copenhagen
Free University guarantees a wide array of personal, improvised
and politicised forms of knowledge embedded in social
practises around us – forms of knowledge we would like to make
explicitly social and create communities around.
The evolution of art has never been results of art critique or
any selection based on quality, but of quantitative abundance.
Therefore is all artistic selection, no matter how fine it might be,
repressive for the evolution of art.
(Listen to a Bob Collins groove)
All power to translucent concrete.
The Free University is an artist run institution dedicated to
the production of critical consciousness and poetic language.
We do not accept the so-called new knowledge economy
as the framing understanding of knowledge. We work with
forms of knowledge that are fleeting, fluid, schizophrenic,
uncompromising subjective, uneconomic, acapitalist, produced
in the kitchen, produced when asleep or arisen on a social
excursion – collectively.
We are both sitting at the table, with our hands under our legs,
waiting for the food to arrive. I am not sure if I should speak,
anyway she starts talking and pointing at things on the shelf,
but I don’t know if it is an expression, or a word. I try to copy
what it is she is saying, but it is hard to keep up. I do say a
couple of things, but later I realise that it was a question, not a
name. I imagine what it would be like if I learnt to speak Danish
from her, and then I imagine how disappointing I must be, as an
adult that cannot answer her questions. I am not sure that she
would be interested in teaching me, if I was not able to have an
exchange with her at this point in time, when she was willing to.
Dear Copenhagen Free University
Saw your exhibition in Vienna and was in sympathy with the
project you outline on your leaflets. Keep up the good work! I’m
doing a thesis on Sartre and am arguing, amongst other things,
for the potentially radically emancipatory nature of his literary
writings. It’s important that left aesthetic theory and production
get beyond simply seeing art as an expression of bourgeois
ideology (and hence capitalism). It has to be seen as having
intrinsically emancipatory qualities.
What do you people feel about modern jazz?
Best wishes Sam.
Our work is usually closely connected to the daily life we
live. The Copenhagen Free University is, in fact, situated
and functions within the framework of our flat and household
economy. The Free University has not got any marble columns
or any spectacular architecture, but has all the mess and
irregularities of a place where people live.
What if you don’t feel like a sensible citizen? What if your
language is not making sense in the public sphere?
The active refusal of the present social relations of capitalism,
an evacuation of it’s means of support and the construction
of an alternative. Not a direct opposition or negation, but the
The model of The Free University is one we have taken up andreworked, and is based on a direct unmediated exchange of
knowledge between people as vehicle of social change. It is
our hope that you instead of dreaming of the Copenhagen Free
University or London Anti-University or the Free University of
New York or the Spontaneous University, go where you live and
establish your own university drawing on the knowledge in your
The language of madness is the perpetual slipping over of
words into acts until the moment when the word is pure act.
In a biography of the Swedish artist Karin Larsson (1859-
1928), it is mentioned, along with a review of her works in a
traditional sense, that she used to place the saucepan in which
the potatoes were boiled directly onto the table! That is, she
did not pour the potatoes into a bowl, but rather let them stay
in the saucepan. It was one of the Larsson family’s maids who
had told this to the author of the biography, and for the maid it
was a noteworthy act. How entirely practical, thus reducing the
number of dishes that needed to be washed. And not only that:
the potatoes also retained their warmth, which they do not when
you pour them into a cold bowl – you could of course choose to
warm the bowl first, but that would also demand extra effort. In
a jiffy, the saucepan is placed on the table, and suddenly a work
process is simplified. One small jiffy for the Larssons – one giant
jiffy for (wo)mankind. Well, maybe it had been seen before, but
obviously not so often as to prevent this from arousing surprise
in a small Swedish village.
Our life within language is like a journey within polluted air.
Living at the Copenhagen Free University – an account from a
My room is built in such a way, that it has both a door that leads
directly to the outside, the stairs, and another sliding door which
is the entrance to the home. You could be here, but feel quite
separate from the rest of the household. You could also come
and go without the others knowing (not that I have done that)
I prefer to keep the sliding door open, then I get to hear more
of the rest of the house and smell the cooking. It is hard to tell
how much I spill out, but there is definitely a place where we all
combine, and I like it when somebody pops their head around
It was a solely social act to say “Let us open a university” and
as we opened the Copenhagen Free University right away lots
of discursive forces came in motion in and around this selfinstitution.
Today there are loads of manifestos being produced promoting
all sorts of ready-made subjectivities wanting to become
government. Our intention was to produce a power that refuses
to become government.
Ordinary house dust is a mixture of dead insect parts, flakes of
human skin, shreds of fabric, minerals, seeds, pollen, feather,
hair, blood, excrement and many other materials.
The Copenhagen Free University is a temporary self-institution
that for a period of time gather and formalise a community
of individuals and groups around a certain struggle. Sooner
or later the CFU will abolish itself with the intention of the
formation of more informal networks and a redistribution of
power. This strategy of temporary formation and subsequent
abolition of autonomous institutions has been called the
Thanks to Emma Hedditch, Anthony Davies, Ian Trowell,
Howard Slater, Johnny Spencer, Asger Jorn and David Cooper.
Henriette Heise and Jakob Jakobsen, 2002 –