Here but Not Here
- an Art installation that reflects how the COVID-19 pandemic affected students in Higher Education.
Where it all began?
This project started with a desire to highlight the reality that many students had to face in the academic year 2020-21.
A reality where a large number of students were officially enrolled at a University (Here) but thanks to COVID-19 their learning had to be carried out online (not Here).
Students as a currency...
Soon, there was another issue that came to the forefront, which involved the 'monetary-value-based' relationship between the student body and the University itself.
While the pandemic had a large impact on the 'student experience', Universities did not lower the tuition fees accordingly to make up for the difference. The group that was affected the most were the International students, who have in most cases already moved their entire life to the UK and who had to deal with much higher fees than the EU-based students regardless of the situation.
This provoked us to use the question, "Are students just a form of currency?" as a part of our statement.
The final installation included a poster (please see the image below) and a series of custom metal tokens which were carefully laid out and displayed on the ground floor of the UCA Business school building.
Note: During the 3 hours that it took us to set up the installation we have not come across a single student (or a member of the academic staff).
Installation in Isolation
The installation was created without the knowledge of the University. However, the date was carefully selected so that it would coincide with a large meeting of the academic staff that was supposed to take place on the same day. Later that week we were informed that due to last-minute changes the meeting was called off. Otherwise, the University premises remain mostly vacant. Therefore, we have not received any feedback or comments on the piece, which only further supports the point we were trying to make with the installation in the first place.
Expanding the Context
The "I am not a legal currency" statement lends itself to a wider range of contexts - Capitalism is one of the first ones that come to mind.
Therefore, we would like to promise that we'll keep our eyes open and our cameras ready so that we can keep on creating...
(Perhaps we could start with a photo collection dedicated to 'moments of transaction'?)