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Still Building

26 May

This video documents the Still Building project at UCIRA’s Future Tense conference in November 2011 on the campus of UCSD. The project was organized by the collaborative group Building (featuring UCSC graduate students Kyle Mckinley, Nick Lally and Madeline McDonald Lane).

Ken Ehrlich’s Masks, or The Illusion of Power

13 May

Last year LA based artist and lecturer from UC Riverside, Ken Ehrlich, presented on his intervention at the UCIRA “Future Tense” conference at UC San Diego. This video is an excerpt from the first 15 minutes of that talk and the full text is reprinted on the website Occupy Everything. In the presentation Ehrlich asked members of the audience to read aloud with him certain key concepts he wanted to highlight for discussion, as you’ll hear towards the end of the video.

Personal Reflection on UCIRA’s Conference

15 Mar

Personal Reflection on UCIRA’s 2010 State of the Arts Conference

by Van Tran, MFA candidate University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB)


Just over a year ago my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer and had consequently lost her job and faced home foreclosure. This personal chain of events is a symptom of larger social issues in the U.S. economy: unemployment, current health care, house foreclosures, etc. At the same time this experience falls onto me. My looming student loan debt from my undergraduate career hovers over me as a current first year graduate student in the Department of Art at UCSB – and I will inevitably face paying more college loan debt without family support.


Where does this leave me along my pursuit for higher education and my future as an aspiring artist as fee hikes have inflated the cost of this degree? And what about the other hundreds of UC students that had to drop out and take on second and third jobs to support them and drifted from their academic endeavors?


The State of The Arts (SOTA) Conference that I attended in November 2010 focused on a theme of “Future Tense: Alternative Arts and Economies.” Various issues of the current UC fee hike crisis such as the aforementioned questions were raised, and there was much discourse of the relationship between public education and the public good through a variety of discussions and presentations. I attended the conference with a small group of students led by August Black, a PhD candidate from the Media Arts and Technology department at UCSB. Our group project goal was to document the conference and record interviews from various participants. To show our collective stance, we wore silkscreened t-shirts that read, “The Future is Tense.”


Aside from our producing documentation, a bulk of my experience from the conference involved absorbing information. At times I found myself in a whirlwind of mixed feelings towards my current experience as a graduate student. The Talk Sandwich luncheon moderated by Dee Hibbert-Jones was an open discussion where participants built their own sandwich as a metaphor for building their own ideal education model. The group’s discussion of money issues traced back to my lingering memory of my mother’s circumstances and my current burden of growing loan debt. I thought more deeply about my place in the Department of Art and the strict emphasis on completing an MFA degree in only two years as funding seems to be an ongoing issue for all of the grads, and the graduate committee has to continually find funds to support us for our two-year program. My impending leap into the working world from my graduate education brought a heavy feeling of unpreparedness to become an institutionalized mediocre artist. This is not what I want to be nor do I want to put myself in debt for this! What solutions or alternatives can be programmed and implemented to create a more thorough study, where graduate students can take up to three years (or more if there is enough funding secured) to develop and fine tune work that is intellectually engaging in its aesthetic form and practice?


I grew more hope during the presentation of UCIRA funded projects and was inspired to see what some artists were already doing. The call for action in creating alternative methods as a response to the current model of art education was displayed in creative and equally engaging ways: from Tim Schwartz’ STAT-US mobile unit to Ben Lotan’s literal occupation of squatting in his on-campus work space to the Urban Research Toolkit’s creation of an online collaborative research of collective mapping, to name a few. In addition to viewing these fun and exciting projects were the conference evening receptions. These were opportunities for me to connect closely with the conference participants, UC art administrators, and faculty artists from different UC campuses. The discussions and stories that were shared among this group were ones that I would not have had in the public setting of a panel discussion or presentation. These gave me some solace in knowing that I am not alone in this current state of the arts. In spite of my own experience as a graduate student I was grateful to hear critical perspectives from many voices at the SOTA conference that gave me a sense of collectivity.


Van Tran is a first-year MFA student in the art department at UCSB. She is interested in public & social practice and is researching the different communities surrounding her new geography of place. More information can be found on her website:


Chicano Secret Service

27 Jan

The Chicano Secret Service, composed of actors and graduate students from UCSB  and UCR, performed live at UCIRA’s “Future Tense” conference in November of 2010. Here are three excerpts from the show at UC San Diego:

LM Bogad “Maintaining and Improving the Student Body” Performance

18 Jan

At UCIRA’s November 2010 conference held at UC San Diego a performance took place entitled “Maintaining and Improving the Student Body: Innovative Solutions for a Challenging Time” performed by LM Bogad claiming to be spokesperson for the “U. Califorlornia Regents.” The ironic lecture proposes a long-term plan for solving the budget crisis that will allow students to sell organs in order to pay for tuition hikes.

Check out the video here:

UC/me by Rickerby Hinds

18 Jan

A new video excerpt of UC Riverside Theater professor Rickerby Hinds’ performance at the UCIRA conference this past November at UC San Diego. The performance dealt with Hinds’ own personal narrative of moving through the University of California system.

Talk Sandwich with Dee Hibbert-Jones

16 Dec

Another video from UCIRA’s “Future Tense” conference at UCSD on November 20th, 2010; excerpts from UCSC’s Dee Hibbert-Jones “Talk Sandwich” project which took place over lunch with participants from the conference. This project was produced with UCSC’s Dustin O’Hara.

University of California Deans in the Arts Panel

7 Dec

On Saturday November 20th 7 Deans working in the arts on 7 of the UC campuses gathered at UC San Diego for a panel as part of UCIRA’s “Future Tense: Alternative Arts and Economies in the University” conference. Hosted and moderated by UCSD’s Seth Lerer, the presentation gave the audience a sense of what a more unified system might look like in the future and the role of the arts in the changing landscape of public education. Conflicting and overlapping tactics and strategies ranging from protest to public-private partnerships, outreach and system-wide degrees were discussed. The Q & A was lively, however since the audience did not consent to being taped prior to the event then we have decided to keep those comments offline. Enjoy and look for more videos from the conference at

Part 1: Introduction by Seth Lerer (UC San Diego):

Part 2: Presentation by Joseph Lewis (UC Irvine):

Part 3: Presentation by Joseph Lewis (UC Irvine) Continued:

Part 4: Presentation by Jessie Ann Owens (UC Davis):

Part 5: Presentation by Stephen Cullenberg (UC Riverside):

Part 6: Christopher Waterman (UC Los Angeles):

Part 7: David Yager (UC Santa Cruz):

Part 8: David Marshall (UC Santa Barbara):


State of the Arts with Grant Kester

2 Dec

From November 19-21st at UC San Diego the conference “Future Tense” was hosted by UCIRA in collaboration with the Dean of Arts and Humanities at UCSD. Over the next few weeks we will be posting videos from the conference on SOTA and the recently launched UCIRA Youtube channel. The first video (presented here in 4 parts) includes an introduction to the theme of the conference by UCSD Arts and Humanities Dean Seth Lerer and a Keynote outlining some of the conceptual and historical issues related to the conference.

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