I’m writing a quick note to call to your attention two things that are important to me:
A·kin takes artist Aarati Akkapeddi’s family photo album as its starting point. Akkapeddi combines these personal photographs, from the south Indian state Tamil Nadu, with images from the Studies in Tamil Studio Archives and Society Archive (stars.archive), a collection which investigates the history of South Indian studio photography between the 1880s and the 1980s.
The installation takes the shape of a Kolam, where patterns are traditionally drawn with rice flour by women on their home entrance to welcome all but evil spirits. In this case, the kolam is formed by groupings of photographs organised on a grid by an image classification algorithm, and assembled on clusters by Akkapeddi’s own artistic intervention. Each group is represented by a central image, a composite averaging all of the images within the cluster. A new digital interactive extension of the work invites visitors to pull apart the composites and learn about the source and cultural insights of each photograph.
At the centre of the wall a video includes oral interviews with family members reflecting on the experience of going to photo studios. Stars.archive researchers also share insights on the particularities of the composition and style of the images.
A·kin highlights issues in grasping anthropological, historical and cultural notions about personal and collective identity when photographs are considered as mere data points.
And the second thing I wanted to share is about being part-time faculty at The New School. Many of you may be well aware that being a part time professor involves a massive amount of under/unpaid labor. I would say I spend double the amount of paid hours if not more if I include prep-time, grading, and office hours. Part-time faculty make up 87% of The New School’s teaching staff. A part-time faculty in Parsons teaching a typical 45 contact hour studio will earn about $4,300 for the course. The poverty line for a family of four in NYC in 2019 was $36,262. To earn that amount, a part-time faculty would have to teach 9 courses a year and roughly $100,000 in tuition is collected by The New School for an 18-student class.
Part-time faculty are owed a minimum number of courses each year after they’ve reached their 10th semester but the university usually terminates part-time faculty in their 9th semester to skirt this obligation. This means that around a half of the part-time faculty don’t know whether or not they’re going to have a job next semester.
107 part-time faculty members left their university health insurance due to increased costs and decreased coverage; and 51 members lost their university health insurance due to losing the classes that ensured their eligibility in the plan.
For the first time in 8 years part time faculty contracts are up for negotiation. If you are reading this and you are part-time faculty at The New School, I urge you to join the union. If you are part of the union, I urge you to participate in the strike vote on Oct 31st and attend collective bargaining meetings with the school. Teaching conditions are learning conditions.
In gratitude, Aarati