As a product of traditional academia, I found the Spannocchia experience not short of revolutionary. I experienced unparalleled and welcome access to world-renowned visiting faculty, as well as the IDSVA faculty and staff. The artist and Renaissance man David Driskell conducted an intensive two-day seminar and dined with us en famille, confirming IDSVA’s commitment to guiding considered scholarship. Dr. Driskell literally illustrated the power of creativity in response to various environments and their specific atmospheres. Spannocchia began to prepare me for scholarship that is beyond responsibility by impelling contributions to the arts, art history, art theory, art criticism, aesthetics and philosophy: scholarship that offers truth as qualitative and not truth as an established, prescriptive, and selective code.
Living and working together in a functional, eco-tourist castello offered the perfect counterpoint to the rigors of study. While our residency fostered libertarian values, the castello, a beautiful medieval haven for meditative study, was an insistent reminder that society should ever foment change and not calcification by canonical values. Enter philosopher and feminist Howard Caygill, with whom I made sure to dine and breakfast during his two-day seminar. Dr. Caygill convinced me that IDSVA was not simply an academic factory but a way of life. There are scholars world-wide intent on supporting what Henri Bergson would term a Creative Evolution–the transcendence of immediacy and resultant misinformed observations and actions to hyper-perception–to hyperaesthesia. Hyperaesthesia requires force to focus: it is the difference between a dialectical tension that ever is open to creative activity and (re)interpretation versus mere superficial, attention.
The creative process of Sarah Sze, installed in the American Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, was illuminated by none other than Holly Block. Ms. Block personally guided us through her curation, sharing insights into the nature of the Biennale, the challenges of the pavilion and Sze’s cumulative response to Venice in her work. IDSVA’s commitment to substantive learning moments was confirmed also by Ms. Block’s closing of the pavilion for her lecture that early Venetian morning.
As if life could not get any better–in Venice, no less,–the one and only Dr. Hal Foster spent a lengthy afternoon with us, confirming the rhizomic and necessary power of creativity in his lecture titled “Critical Geneologies.” Foster asserted, in a lecture hall steps away from the Lido, “Critique is driven by a will to power and is not reflexive about its truth … once we know about a thing it doesn’t need to change.” This is a salient point as ossified communities are a danger to people everywhere. Foster is indicative that the change especially begins with a scholar like himself, who established his career with a critique of the Surrealists through Freud’s Death Drive.
This brave new world concluded that, yes, Hogwarts does indeed exist. It is IDSVA. It is the school that you always dreamed to attend, with the professors you always wished for, with the colleagues you dreamt you have never had, with ever-constant life changing experiences. IDSVA is creative authorship as producers.