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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Berg video note

Week 310 from BERG on Vimeo.

Why the creative industry is sexist and racist

Heres a small section of a report

'Art for a Few: Exclusion and Misrecognition in Art and Design Higher Education Admissions'
Researchers: Professor Penny Jane Burke & Jackie McManus
The observation data also exposes the ways that
racialised subjectivities inform admissions tutors’ judgments in the
selection process. Nina, a Black working class young woman from
a poor inner city area, applying for a Fashion Design BA, was asked
at the beginning of her interview about the influences on her work:

Interviewer: What influences your work?
Nina: I’m influenced by hip-hop.
Interviewer: Hip-hop or the history of hip-hop?
Nina: The history of hip-hop

In response to Nina’s answer, the body language of the interviewers
visibly changed. They leaned back in their chairs and appeared to go
through the motions of interviewing Nina. They asked her what she
would like to design and she answered that she was interested in
designing sports tops. After a few more questions, seemingly asked to
confirm their view of Nina as an inappropriate candidate, they curtailed
the interview, giving Nina less time than other applicants. After Nina
left the interview room, the interviewers immediately decided to reject
her. They discussed how they would record this on the form they were
required to complete about all applicants:

Interviewer one: Why should we say we’re rejecting her?
Interviewer two: Well she’s all hip-hop and sport tops
Interviewer one: We’ll say that her portfolio was weak.

Yet, when the interviewers reviewed her portfolio before the interview
took place, they had not deemed it weak. Following her interview,
the two interviewers recorded on their form that Nina’s portfolio
was below average, noting also that the clothes she wore to the
interview were not fashionable and that she lacked confidence.
Nina was dressed very smartly in dark jeans and a cotton top. All of
the other (white) female candidates were dressed in similar smart
casual clothing of tunic, leggings and pumps. The interviewers also
noted their dissatisfaction with Nina’s intentions to live at home

whilst studying, suggesting this was a sign of immaturity. They also
noticed that there was a page missing from the test paper that Nina
had been given, but agreed that this didn’t matter because they had
already decided to reject her. The white middle-class male candidate
interviewed immediately after Nina, was from an affluent spa town,
expensively dressed and cited famous contemporary artists and
designers amongst his influences. In the interview discussion, he
confirmed that he would ‘definitely be leaving home because it is all
part of the experience.’ The young man was offered a place in spite of
having considerably poorer qualifications than Nina, including having
failed GCSE Art. We suggest that although this applicant was less
qualified than Nina, and like her had a portfolio initially assessed as
average, the interviewers recognised and valued his cultural capital
allowing it to be converted into symbolic cultural capital, and traded
upon (Skeggs, 2004) for a place in higher education.
Nina was not recognized as a legitimate subject of art and design
studies because she cited a form of fashion/influence seen as
invalid in the higher education context. Furthermore, her intentions
not to leave home were read as signifying her inappropriate subject
position. The male, middle-class, white-English candidate on the
other hand knew how to cite the discourses that would enable him to
be recognized as a legitimate student subject. Although no explicitly
racist statements were made by the admissions tutors, we want to
argue that their judgments were shaped by implicit, institutionalized,
disciplinary and racialised perspectives of what counts as legitimate
forms of experience and knowledge. Classed, gendered and racialised
formations of subjectivity, which are embodied as well as performative,
profoundly shape selection-processes. Such judgments are made
in the context of struggles the tutors themselves are involved
with in relation to their own institutional, embodied, performative
subjectivities. This is tied in with the derogatory discourses of ‘dumbing
down’ and ‘lowering standards’ and the desire to be recognized
as ‘world class’. This is implicitly underpinned by debates about
knowledge and skills and work-based, vocational provision as marked
out as less legitimate than courses and institutions seen as academic
and high status.