Is the industrialization of higher education killing creativity? Artist Isaac Cordal thinks so, and he’s using his sculptures to prove his point. In “The School,” Cordal portrays universities, particularly privatized and for-profit institutions, as a nightmarish factory in which students have become slaves of production. Skeletal overlords supervise the industry, “where universities have become a business and students [have turned] into customers.”
Privatization and capitalism aren’t the only reasons why creativity is disappearing in education systems around the world. The rise of standardized testing and curricula have prioritized rote memorization and regurgitation over critical thinking; students are increasingly rewarded for going through the motions, like a factory worker, instead of stopping to ask questions. “Benefit culture has destroyed the values of knowledge, considering useless everything that is not productive,” says Cordal. “We have immersed in the industrialization of thinking that makes us slaves of production away from an enriching personal development through education.”
Although The School installation depicts a factory setting, no items are actually being produced. The warehouse environment is a huge reading room, where homogenous and zombie-like middle-aged men, dressed in white lab suits and rubber gloves, read in a sterile setting. Skeletal overlords in lab coats look down below from watchtowers. The book ‘L’utilite De L’inutile’ by Nuccio Ordine was the inspiration behind the installation. You can see more of Cordal’s works on his Facebook and Instagram.