An open design course


Open Design Course (ODC) is a programme where you don’t have to pay money to follow the classes at KASK School of Arts, Ghent. It is a class that teaches art and computer skills. The class was made for refugees, asylum seekers and people who cannot access higher education because of paperwork, money and social reasons.

Open Design Course (ODC) is a programme dedicated to refugees, asylum seekers and people who do not have access to higher education due to administrative, financial or social reasons. The course has no tuition fee, takes place at KASK School of Arts, Ghent, and is currently supported by the federal government and the Digital Belgium Skills Fund.

It focuses on Open Design as a technological, cultural, artistic and critical practice. This course method is based on co-creation and peer learning, putting an emphasis on new media literacy.

As long as we can overcome our fixation on what art has been or should be, art education should challenge and re-invent itself.

‘input’ and ‘output’

Its ten week curriculum is built on the concept of input and output weeks. In the input weeks, FLOSS tools (Free/Libre Open Source Software) and co-creation methodologies, from idea development to storytelling, are introduced by a multidisciplinary and diverse teaching team including former ODC participants.

In the output weeks, participants are invited to contribute their educational, professional or cultural expertise to design their projects towards a public moment. This year, the public event will be a five day Open Laboratory in Zwarte Zaal, KASK.

The original course was initiated by the late Bram Crevits in 2016. His vision for the course was and remains multiple: as an educational experiment on the one hand and as an artistic statement on the other.

Art education should be a place of resistance and dialogue, to activate art as the collective conscience of our society.

places of resistance

Crevits saw school as an open tool for society: “Schools should resist to reproduce the system we feel trapped in (..). As long as we can overcome our fixation on the identity of the artist, and on what art has been or should be (…) art education should challenge and re-invent itself, being a place of creativity, imagination and constructive experimentation; but also a place of resistance and dialogue (…) to activate art as the collective conscience of our society”.

The current team is expanding this prototype by introducing and applying feminist and decolonial practices where the spotlight is on relations and networks between us, the society we live in and the systems that support us [or do not].

As we are now entering the 3rd edition of ODC, we have already some results to look back on:

  • The creation of The Post Collective, an initiative of the ODC2018 participants, which offers an autonomous platform for cultural activism and artistic employment opportunities for its members in which the identity of the refugee is celebrated as a “vanguard of their people”, as put by Hannah Arendt in her seminal work, We Refugees (1943).
  • The participation in the Transnational Alliance of schools We Cannot Work Like This, who gathered students and tutors from art academies and universities in Belgium, France, the UK and Hong Kong to work together on a proposal for sustainable, decolonial and inclusive practices. The meetings took place in “The Swamp School” – Venice Biennial, the Royal College of Architecture – London, Brussels and in Contour9 Biennale in Mechelen.
  • The ongoing collaborations with Constant and the School of Love.

diversity is work

Following the thoughts of celebrated decolonial, feminist, queer and intersectional theorist Sara Ahmed and what she calls “diversity work”, we are aware of the danger imposed by enclosing ‘the other’ in this space that is dedicated to diversity – aside ‘the normal’ body of the school.

Our mission for the 2019-2020 edition is to create a threshold, a common time and space, between the official school’s curriculum and ODC. We hope that this will generate ways of including ODC participants, methodologies and content in the main body of KASK. To enable this, ODC needs to be embraced not only by the ones involved but by the whole school community.