Ruchama Noorda organises the ReForm the Academy DIY course, which is based on her research on the relationship between early 20th century reform movements (Lebensreform) and the European avant-garde.

This course is a practical application of principles and practices from the reform movement in a contemporary institutional setting. Students from various disciplines are invited to employ their individual ideas and skills to address contemporary issues on art and society. The aim of the course is to examine the daily functioning of the Royal Academy of Art and to consequently propose constructive ideas for change.

Today, as interdisciplinary collaboration in the art world and art education is increasingly appreciated and considered a condition for progress, (semi-)public sites for free and open exchange are becoming more and more important. The Academy’s library, courtyard and canteen are the most obvious sites for this exchange, and will therefore be the focus of the course.

Reform spreads like a virus. When the virus catches, new ideas nestle gradually in existing structures and transform these structures almost unnoticeably. The course is founded on ideas from interventionist collectives like the Provo movement, which are used to formulate alternative visions/futures for the academy’s meeting places, such as the canteen and the courtyard. The May ‘68 slogan “Under the paving stones, the beach!” is applied in the form of a proposal to establish a vegetable garden in the academy’s paved and sterile-looking courtyard.

DIY Reform is a research process through which reform ideas are explored by a group of individuals but executed collectively. Students from both the applied and autonomous art departments are invited to apply.

The curricula of most Dutch art academies, especially in the propaedeutic year, are modeled on the aesthetic ideas and ideals associated with the Bauhaus Academy. In recent years there has been increasing attention for alternative, and even occult, belief systems subsisting beneath the Bauhaus’s renowned commitment to supposedly rational modernist principles (e.g. J.K. Birksted, Le Corbusier and the Occult (MIT Press, 2010)). In this course we will investigate these alternative traditions, and we move beyond the familiar canonical colour theories and the observational exercises of drawing that are so typical of the remains of the Bauhaus educational system. We will focus on eccentric pedagogical strategies of figures such as Johannes Itten, whose ideas from diet to drawing to kinetics are directly connected to the Lebensreform movement of that time.

In accordance with the aspirations of prominent 20th century avant-garde movements to merge art and life, the course functions as a demonstration-project inspired by experiments from the reform movement.

Participants present their research outcomes in the medium of their choice. During six intensive days, reading, making, reenactment and collective performance function as our research tools.

The final outcome of the course is a collective “ReForm proposal” that will be presented in the academy canteen and courtyard. The purpose of the course is to critically examine aspects of academy life which are normally taken for granted for the functioning of the academy, and to make visual and constructive proposals for reform. During the six-day course we will visit sites where historic and/or contemporary reform experiments took place. Individual and collective projects undertaken in the course are documented in a DIY style zine. The zine also includes recipes, manifestos and formulae for “ReForm”.

Open to students from all departments of the Royal Academy of Art: Fine Arts, Textile & Fashion, Photography, ArtScience, Interior Architecture, Graphic Design, IMD.

A maximum of fifteen students from various departments will be selected to participate.

The course is taught by Ruchama Noorda.

studied visual arts at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (BA, 2002) and the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam (MFA, 2004). She made her debut in 2003 with the solo exhibition The Profitable Art of Gardening in Museum Het Domein in Sittard. In recent work she has been exploring the desire for an all-encompassing ideology in a personal Gesamtkunstwerk. Noorda’s work consists of installations and performances. Since 2009 she has been working in framework of the PhDArts programme on the research project ‘ReForm’.