School of Apocalypse emerged because so many of us today feel that we are heading toward a boundary or paradigm shift. As cultural practitioners and concerned people from all backgrounds, we came together to find meaningful creative responses to help us address the major challenges ahead. We built a school to prefigure new approaches to learning, to celebrate ignorance, and to contain multiple approaches to the same fundamental questions.
For us, apocalypse isn't quite a destination but a horizon, an idea that always exists somewhere in the near future, just ahead of us. As we look towards it, it reflects back our fears and desires. Thinking through apocalypse can therefore foreground creativity and survival, and strip away our pretensions to reveal truths about what is essential.
While school activities vary in length, format, subject matter, and methodology, the following goals and guiding principles apply to all SoA programming, with the aim that participants and faculty:
Broaden perceptive capacities
Model alternative cultural systems
Connect theory and practice
How to Participate
Anyone can participate in SoA programming at any time. The core platform for participation is the monthly meeting, which convenes the third Monday of every month. Each session centers around presentations and discussions led by invited speakers.
At the quarterly meetings, SoA opens itself to proposals from attendees who wish to bring projects for consideration to the larger group. People who present in the quarterly meeting should have participated in at least one of the monthly meetings. Based on a vote, select proposals are then invited to make expanded presentations at another session.
The third level of participation is the working group. Working groups convene around specific projects or areas of research to produce documentation in the form of writing, exhibits, podcasts, performances, campaigns etc. Working groups are organized by SoA members and appear on the calendar, and can also form spontaneously among meeting attendees who wish to collaborate on shared interests.
Membership in SoA is not necessary to participate in any of the formats, but people who are interested in defining a closer commitment to its purpose and vision are welcome to write letters outlining their desire to email@example.com.
School of Apocalypse is governed by the Admin working group with input and guidance from the SoA community at large. Admin is a rotating group of SoA members who are interested in refining and experimenting with horizontal institutional governance models.
School of Apocalypse is a radical learning community organized around a notion of school broadly defined as a framework and container for the emergence of shared knowledge. Knowledge in this case is also broadly defined, not only as particular bits and pieces of information, but as experiences that can offer new paradigms, ways of seeing, experiences that can change the way experiences are experienced. In that way, SoA as a framework ideally works the way knowledge itself works. SoA is a learning community both in the sense that it is a community wherein participants are expected to learn together, but also in the sense that as a community it itself learns. In that way, the structures underlying SoA should be expected to be dynamic and to change as the community learns. But SoA is a learning community in a third sense, too, as a group that is learning community, learning what it takes or means to be in/of/for community.
SoA is a community where participants are fully engaged in the space of learning and are active agents in creating and recreating the place in which the learning occurs. The school thrives by creating opportunities for participants to influence the content or structure of the program. We demand to engage new ways of knowing and unknowing, such that multiple modes of learning are engaged simultaneously. Finally, we are deeply committed to seeing our "product" as a community of shared values that foregrounds the interconnections between self and other. Our pedagogy is therefore:
School of Apocalypse was founded by Tal Beery, Catherine Despont, Eugenia Manwelyan, and Adam Stennett in 2015. The four founding faculty kicked off the school with a series of events and courses that addressed apocalypse, survival, and the cultural role of creative practice through writing, movement, ethics, and hands-on skills. It was incubated at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where the first series of courses, monthly meetings, and working groups were held. After 18 months, SoA left Pioneer Works to experiment with a nomadic structure. In 2016 the Admin working group took over governance of SoA. Admin working group members have included Tal Beery, Catherine Despont, Eugenia Manwelyan, Nelesi Rodriguez, and Danica Selem.