Troubled times

We live in troubled times. The attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo earlier this year and the recent attacks in Paris give rise to many forms of disquiet.

Some have to do with straightforward fear, others with attempts to understand what is going on. To what extent is this aggression motivated by religious, social, political or other factors? How should we respond? How should we protect ourselves? It is a disquiet that can all too easily lead to the polarisation of different viewpoints.

Even so, it is worth noting that the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, the Stade de France, the Bataclan, and the restaurants and bars of the 11th arrondissement were attacks on an editorial office, a sports arena, a concert hall and the public spaces where people engage in our modern way of life, coming together to talk and discuss.

These were attacks on the arenas of public debate, on the places where we compare experiences and exchange opinions, places that Jürgen Habermas regarded as a prerequisite for the development of civil society. They were attacks on the institutions that have been the foundation of enlightened modernity and civilized Europe.

Educational institutions are part of this civil landscape. And art schools are no exception. We nurture and develop free aesthetic creativity, self-expression and critical reflection. In this respect, the Oslo National Academy of the Arts belongs to the same family of institutions that were hit in Paris. It is important for us to realise this.

This does not mean we should feel threatened. But neither should we be naive. Rather, it should be a source of pride that we represent the vital and necessary civilizational values that are the bedrock of enlightened modern society.

Jørn Signatur Transparent 768.Fw

Jørn Mortensen
Rector