Different Systems of Chaos campaign PROJECT LIST
Letter of Thanks To All the People Who Had Supported Alytus Art School’s Fight against Bureaucratic Treatment

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the whole community of the Art School I would like to say huge thanks to everybody who thought about the problem, shared with your thoughts, wrote the letters of support, protest or those with the arguments why artistic education we need at all or clearly describing what already happen in different places of the world after the similar intervention of skillfully economically trained bureaucrats into the field of artistic education and what were the results and so on. As I’ve had initially informed all of you all the texts written by you were translated and published in the local newspaper Alytaus Naujienos (Alytus News). Because of the difficulties with translation the texts were published with some one-two weeks delay during the whole June. The situation was quite unprecedented – there are not so many articles published in a local newspaper whish are about some cultural, art life at all and there never happens any discussion on that. Usually some episodes from political and economical life appear criminal chronicle and that’s it. So, the publishing of the texts created unreal situation for the whole town, which sometimes slightly even linked to be a sort kind media circus…

But did anything really happen? The fact is that the plans to make the reorganization are postponed to the future without any clarified dates. The authorities just at the very beginning were trying to accuse art School’s side as having no any economical arguments to withstand to their plans (sic!) Another much more cynical attitude was formulated to follow the first one: the viewpoint of the State ministries or that from national art world and art educational system are not interested local authorities anymore, because the school is municipal and they can do whatever they want…but all the campaign with the letters seemed to be quite unexpected and very irritating. They decided not to play the game (politically it was not the right time: there were president elections in June and all the parties are already working fro the upcoming elections to the parliament in October, 2004) and clamed up for some time. It could be considered as a victory, not the final one, but very important one. I think that there is a very important the way how local small problem could be paralyzed by quick global attention towards it. And also I am very glad to see that world artistic community is much more united then bureaucratic one.

So, I want to thank you once more for your contribution, which encouraged local people to be brave, to resist and defend their own creed.

Good luck!
Sincerely
Redas Dirzys
Director of Alytus Art School

FIRST LETTER

Dear People of the World,

My name is Redas Dirzys and I am an artist, and the head of the Art School in the small town of Alytus of the small country Lithuania. First, I want to announce worldwide more than just the fact of attempts of the local authorities to close the art school. The major thing I want to call your attention to is the license, arrogance and cynicism of the functionaries, that you’re noticing around yourself too, and the mechanisms they are using to highlight their power. This is not a fear of losing my job; please don’t treat it as a desperate attempt to ask for a support of the school.

The story is very simple: local authorities decided to close perfectly functioning schools for visual arts and for musical education and to join them to the training school for folk crafts. The whole unit they decided to call the Artistic Training Center. The basic thing of the whole reorganization is the appearance of the classical bureaucratic pyramid, all under this mechanically made unit, with the main task to properly administrate these bastard artists.

The official motivations for this step is: better coordination of the joint events of these three former institutions (common participation in city or the state or international celebrations and projects) and better opportunity to get bigger money from European foundations. The step is warranted on the thesis that there is not such kind of infrastructure of the State Art Schools in the countries of EU, even they are trying to prove that the EU officials are insisting not to support this kind of schools from the state money and the mostly funny argument is: there is not such a kind of schools in Denmark (Danish educational system is the standard for the Lithuanian educational system to be turned into. 10 years ago Danish experts were the first to came to Lithuania with the money of European foundations to ensure the way of Danish educational system to be taken as an example).

The methods: the chief of city educational department issued the order for the heads of the schools to prepare the documentation for the reorganization of their institutions to look as they are asking for those themselves. I gave everything to the press what already means in this former soviet country that I have no chance to win that fight (anyway I’ve already refused from the same amount of salary in a new planned Artistic Training Center). So, I am turning all that activity to a biggest social performance I ever did – to play the game till the end with the full spread of imagination.

I am inviting everybody to react to the fact in the way they find out convenient for themselves by writing the letters from abroad – to let the authorities of the small city of the small country to be seen from a wider prospective, or to propose them some much spectacular way to deal with the artistic education. Anyway they are asking now for another alternative ways what to do with the artistic education?

Please use the following email addresses to send the letters: info@ana.lt and saule@ana.lt . The addresses are from the local main daily of Alytus city and for a whole south Lithuanian region Alytaus Naujienos (Alytus News) – the most influential for the region who have also kindly agreed to work for that.

Sincerely,

Redas Dirzys redas_dirzys@yahoo.com
The head of Alytus Art School (still)

SOME OF THE LETTERS OF SUPPORT

From: anya lewin
Date: Tue, 25 May 2004 10:40:55 +0100
To:
Subject: Don’t Close Alytus Dailies Mokykla!!!

To the People of Alytus, Lithuania:
My name is Anya Lewin and I am an artist and a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at The University of Plymouth in England. I am writing to say how saddened and dismayed I am to hear of the possible closing of Alytus Dailies Mokykla.

In April 2003, I, along with Steven Eastwood (Assistant Professor of Film, University of Buffalo, USA) came to visit the school and to make a film about the experience. We were incredibly impressed with the calibre of the students and the teachers at the school. I understand a very high percentage of the students go on to attend university, which is of little surprise to me, as the students were so obviously engaged in the educational process.. The school was run incredibly well yet had an atmosphere that encouraged creativity and intellectual development. It was refreshing to see an institution of art run by an actual artist who understood the processes being taught. We both felt that art schools in England and the USA could benefit from an exchange of ideas with the Alytus Dailies Mokykla. We have been hoping to create some kind of exchange programme.

The visit resulted in a 30 minute film called "Different Systems of Chaos". This film has been shown in: New York City, NY; Buffalo, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Palm Springs, CA; London, UK; Exeter, UK; Totnes, UK; Liverpool, UK, an Amsterdam, Netherlands. It is still circulating and will be screened in many international venues. Each time it has been shown it has been very well received and people are very interested and impressed with the school. The film generates excellent conversation and also people feel very passionate about what a contemporary arts education can give as a foundation to a young student.

Please do not close the Alytus Dailies Mokykla. It is a national gem and an important asset to the town of Alytus.

Sincerely,
Anya Lewin
_______________
Anya Lewin
Senior Lecturer in Fine Art
University of Plymouth
http://www.plym.ac.uk/***********************
From: Charles Bernstein
Date: Wed, 02 Jun 2004 20:45:29 -0400

The plight of the Alytus Art School has been brought to my attention. A successful art school is now being compromised to create greater uniformity of education. In so doing, the possibility for a thriving arts community is also compromised, along with the enormous intellectual and creative contribution that the arts bring to cultures in which they are allowed to thrive, undeterred by central planning and regimentation. A great culture needs great art and great art needs place like Alytus Arts School to give art a chance. I hope this regrettable decision can be changed.

Sincerely,
Charles Bernstein
Poet -- Critic --
Professor of English
University of Pennsylvania
USA***********************

From: "Martin ZET"
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 2004 21:56:33 +0200
Subject: zcca SUPPORTLIBUSIN SUPPORT FOR LITHUANIAN ART SCHOOL SYSTEM

Open letter to Lithuanian Public and those responsible

From: Martin Zet, ZCCA-Libusin
June 2, 2004 in Libusin

Dear cultural people,
Dear people from culture,
Dear people responsible for cultural education,

Some of high representatives of the ZCCA-Libusin had the privilege to visit and see the Alytus Art school and were fascinated by surprisingly high standard of education, which this school as representative of this kind of schools offers. I personally after my return back home tried to speak with responsible people about this model of art education, which doesn’t exist in Czech Republic as about the extremely challenging and effective one. I was dreaming about that this type of school should be installed also in the Czech Republic.

I was shocked when I heard that one of the best things I admired in Lithuania is now in troubles.


LET’S SUPPORT THE ALYTUS ART SCHOOL!
LET’S SUPPORT THE LITHUANIAN ART SCHOOL SYSTEM!
LET’S HELP TO MAINTAIN THE BETTER FUNCTIONING INVENTIONS!
LET’S ON THE OTHER HAND TRY TO EXPOT THEM TO FELLOW EUROPEAN COUNTRIES!
LET’S ON THE OTHER HAND TRY TO EXPOT THEM TO THE WHOLE WORLD!

Yours sincerely,

Martin Zet
ZCCA-Libu‰ín,
P.O.BOX 21
273 06 Libu‰ín
Czech Republic

****************************
From: Norma Cohen <
Sent: Saturday, May 29, 2004 7:28 PM
Subject: Alytus Art School

Dear Editor,
I recently visited Lithuania on a British Embassy/Arts Council funded research trip.
I would like to voice my protest at the proposed closure of Alytus Art School as it seems to me that Head of School Redas Dirzys is doing a fantastic job already in terms of education and creativity.

I hope my letter will help persuade the authorities to change their mind and let him continue his excellent, important work.

Yours sincerely,
Norma Cohen, London
**********************************

From: Geoff Cox
Date: Mon, 31 May 2004 22:11:18 +0100
Subject: Alytus art school

I am writing to lend my support to Redas Dirzys and the art school he runs,
and to question the decision to 'reorganise' it. I know about the school
from watching the excellent documentary 'Different Systems of Chaos' by
Steve Eastwood and Anya Lewin, made after a visit in 2003.
The film depicts a critically-aware and creative environment that serves as
a model of good pedagogy in the arts through active participation and irony
- something lacking in the UK at least that is driven almost entirely by
economic imperatives at the expense of quality or student experience.

Adorno and Horkheimer said it all:
'Interested parties explain the culture industry in technological terms.
[...] The result is the circle of manipulation and retroactive need in which
the unity of the system grows ever stronger. No mention is made of the fact
that the basis on which technology acquires power over society is the power
of those whose economic hold over society is the greatest. A technological
rationale is the rationale of domination itself'.
(from, The Culture Industry)

Yours,
Geoff Cox
i-DAT
Institute of Digital Art and Technology
School of Computing, Communications and Electronics,
University of Plymouth, Portland Square, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, Devon, UK.
T: ++44-01752-232541
F: ++44-01752-232540
E: gc@i-dat.org
W: http://www.i-dat.org
*******************************

From: Robert Creeley
Date: Fri, 28 May 2004 15:16:02 -0400
Subject: A moment of your time

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am sorry indeed to learn that generalizing state administrative interests will overwrite the extraordinary work which Redas Dirzys has done in his directorship of the Art School of Alytus in Lithuania. Not long ago I was able to see a film made and produced by visiting film makers Steven Eastwood and Anya Lewin from England. Its title was Different Systems of Chaos, an impressive recognition of the exceptional perception of creative order and artistic foundation, which Redas Dirzys was able to sponsor, despite the seeming isolation of the school and the modest resources given it to work with. Art not only thrives but depends on such sensitive and active rapport with its needs as was evident. It cannot be made to work for a third party or be convenient simply to preordained ends in view. Here in the United States, one of our most eminent critics, the Harvard professor Helen Vendler, in her NEH Jefferson Lecture on the humanities given this month in Washington, notes aptly:

...The arts bring into play historical and
philosophical questions without implying the
prevalence of a single system or of universal
solutions. Artworks embody the individuality that fades
into insignificance in the massive canvas of history
and is suppressed in philosophy by the desire for
impersonal assertion. The arts are true to the way we
are and were, to the way we actually live and have
lived--as singular persons swept by drives and
affections, not as collective entities or sociological
paradigms.

Especially in such times as our two countries have had to find lives in, it is immensely important that capabilities and inherent gifts such as those of Dr. Dirzys and his students be respected and nurtured. To have a world simply "cut to order" will prove only a sad return to that most limiting and destructive human condition we have, so one had hoped, all too recently survived.

Sincerely,
Robert Creeley
Distinguished Professor of English, Brown University
Mem. American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Mem. American Academy of Arts and Letters
--
PO Box 2584, Providence, RI 02906
* Email: Robert_Creeley@brown.edu
*************************************

Steven Eastwood
Assistant Professor, Film
University at Buffalo
The State University of New York
231 Center for the Arts
Buffalo
NY 14260-6020
June 3, 2004F.A.O. Alytus News

re: the threatened closure of Alytus Art School (Alytus Dailies Mokykla)

My name is Steven Eastwood. I am an independent filmmaker and Assistant Professor in Film at Buffalo University. A little over a year ago Anya Lewin and myself had the great pleasure of visiting Alytus Dailies Mokykla to collaborate with Redas Dirzys (The School Director), and with the teachers and students of the school. Together we made a film called 'Different Systems of Chaos'. It was our intention to somehow reflect the exceptional educational environment within the school, and to articulate how necessary it is that (rare) places of learning such as this must not be compromised, or worse closed, as a result of bureaucratic state agency. The film has played in Lithuania, and to audiences in the UK and US, with tremendously positive feedback. Many people have commented on this extraordinary school, and the clearly evident spirit of its staff and students. And now I find that the school is threatened with closure...

I have worked in arts education for close to ten year, and have tried in my teaching to create a situation where people can feel excited and empowered by learning and by making art. There are many institutional and governmental pressures that make this difficult at times. What Redas Dirzys has built at Alytus Dailies Mokykla is an inspiration to any educator. Redas is that rare type of artist who is able to synthesise his practise and his academic duties. His style and the system of education he has adeptly evolved are both inclusive and insightful. The school is one team: staff and students. Over the four days of the shoot I noticed how creatively motivated and involved all of the students were and how capable they were of grasping complex ideas. The staff presented broad curricular material, but they did much more than this. They made art and the classroom alive. This is why so many students opt to voluntarily spend time in the school outside of lessons. They recognise that this is community where thinking and making is theirs. The school is a testament to how an institution can be about accessing ideas and acquiring creative, intellectual and social skills, happily and dialectically.

Alytus Dailies Mokykla is an inspiration. It is the kind of school I wish I could have attended as a teenager. It is unacceptable that the school should close. The impact of this would be felt on the community within and around the town, and, through its example and the excellent progression of graduating students, would also be felt nationally. I oppose its closure unequivocally and urge the local authority to rescind its plans immediately.

Yours faithfully,
Steven Eastwood
******************************

From: "Adina Bar-On"
Date: Sun, 06 Jun 2004 21:29:10 +0300
Subject: reflections on Education by a coleague of a Redas Dirzys

To whom this may concern,

I am a Visual Artist, working and residing in Tel Aviv. I teach Visual
Communication and Sound at Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem and at Kamera
Obskura School of Art in Tel Aviv.

"Reflections about EDUCATION"

This is pertaining to a mission that I have in common with Redas Dirzys.

This morning, standing in front of a class, I asked my students if they
thought there is any advantage in representing diverse "points of view" in a
work of Art... ? - We had, in actuality, been discussing Culture in the
20th and 21st Centuries and so, having received a response of quiet, I
proceeded with another question: And - Culture? I asked more explicitly,
Does "Culture" have 1 point of view in society today? This was, apparently,
an easier question to tackle and these are some of the ideas that that had
evolved in our discussion:

1) "Culture" was defined as a manifestation of aspirations and longings in
the visual, in the plastic and in sound and, more precisely, as means to
defining physically that which is mental in us.
2) The sensual forms, of plastic and sound media, are not linear and
therefore any individual will be receptive to these media as a relatively
subjective experience.
3) The artist, in the process of creating, perceives his own work as a
receptor, as well, and thus might evolves diverse points of view within his
work.
4)A work of Art that presents or represents more than one point of view will
permit the onlooker, namely the individual in the audience, to participate
by projecting his/her point of view and thus becoming an involved
participant in the discussion.

It has become my notion that the option to conduct exchanges of thoughts and
feelings between persons with different manners of expression is more
beneficial than an exchange between people with the similar comprehensions.
An open agenda to various languages and, therefore, exchange of points of
view enables the individual to regain their right to a definition of his/her
own life.

Adina Bar-On

**********************************

Sveiki,

I write this email on an urge from Redas Dirzys, head of Alytaus Dailes Mokykla and Anya Lewin's email to Live Art web exchange. (I do speak Lithuanian but will write in English as I am not born in Lithuania).

It is of great importance that Art schools avoid any corporate restructuring. The specificity of Alytaus Art School must be retained, not only because of its plea but also in the wider context of culture, creativity and energy which seems to emanate from Dr. Dirzys and his teaching staff. In art education 'mergers' are not a matter which needs to be addressed for any higher good.

This is a letter of emphatic support to avoid the reorganization of Alytaus Dailes Mokykla. It is of great importance that an art school is allowed to remain autonomous and therefore work in an environment which does not create the additional bureaucratic strains on itself. Small cities such as Alytai are environments which are the gems and regardless of its size should be retained in its present structure.

Yours sincerely,

Kristina Kotov(aite) Architect, Artist, Filmmaker
-3rd Year Studio Tutor
Interior and Spatial Design/
-Course Tutor
MADE- Master of Arts- Design for the Environment
Chelsea College of Art and Design
The University of the Arts London

ps I write this without experience of visiting Alytaus Dailes Mokykla, but I trust the plea.