Copenhagen Free University

The Copenhagen Free University (CFU) was created to shake up the research and learning situation beyond the current industry standard. Founded in 2001 by two artists, Henrietta Heise and Jakob Jakobsen. The campus was actually their flat, which they turned into a university simply by declaring it so. This private space became a public institution dedicated to communal knowledge.

People came to the flat for presentations, researching archival material, screening films and presenting documents/art. It was an institution dedicated to:

“The production of critical consciousness and poetic language. We do not accept the so-called new knowledge economy as the framing understanding of knowledge. We work with forms of knowledge that are fleeting, fluid, schizophrenic, uncompromising, subjective, uneconomic, acapitalist, produced in the kitchen, produced when asleep or arisen on a social excursion – collectively.” Copenhagen Free University (Unknown)

Over a period of six years they researched five main fields Feminist Organisation, Art and Economy, Escape Subjectivity, Television/media Activism and Art History. The whole idea was to be unlike traditional formal universities, and research was instead open to anyone who found an interest in the pursuit of knowledge. Instead of an exam or paper, the system was a combination of shared growth and mutual empowerment.

An idealistic, sort of home-built university where strong opinions met, the CFU became a site of socialised and politicised research around social practice. However in 2007 they decided to close the university declaring it ‘a win’. The principles of the university, it being a “self-institution focused on taking power and not accepting the dualism between the mainstream and the alternative.” has become too “fixed an identifier of a certain discourse relating to emancipatory education within academia and the art scene”. It was time to lay the university to bed.

However this was not the end, they created such a stir that the Denmark parliament created a new law preventing self organised and free universities in 2010. Only intuitions authorised by state could use the term university, as they wished to “prevent student disappointed”.

Copenhagen Free University (Unknown). CFU Photographs & Quotes. Retrieved from http://www.copenhagenfreeuniversity.dk/infouk.html

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