Controlled loss of control

Student project
Lachende Studierende | © Fabian Schober
With the project "With Dylan On The Road" the Mozarteum University together with The International Society of Mozarteum University Salzburg offers students the unique opportunity to go on a journey with a scholarship in their luggage to develop art projects inspired by Bob Dylan.
With Dylan On The Road
We see the projects as productive detours that have been taken in their entirety, just like Dylan: What's life without the occasional detour?

— Eugene Banauch

South Africa, USA, Mexico, Latin America, Europe: the destinations of the students, who will be traveling in teams of two for one to three months during the summer, are as diverse as the interdisciplinary artistic projects. What emerges when Bob Dylan is approached from the perspective of an art university? Eugen Banauch and Thomas Ballhausen of the Mozarteum University's research management team asked themselves this question. "Students were deprived of the opportunity to have experiences, to go out, because of the pandemic. We wanted to counteract that. Bob Dylan is on the road all his life, which means anchoring in the 'school of life,' in being on the road. This moment of going out and being in the world, this opening up, is what we need again," Eugen Banauch explains the intention of "With Dylan On The Road". The project invites students to rethink "university" and engage in a discourse of artistic research, learning and doing with polyartist Bob Dylan - outside their comfort zones.  For the application, there were stipulations on a limited travel time, the form of project submission, and an invitation to a cross-disciplinary idea. The rest: open. "It was extremely nice to see what proposals came in, out of the 'safe' space of the university. Students really feel like going out, doing something that they are serious about and want to make a reality. We recognize a courageous liveliness here that one would wish for an art university in particular," underlines Thomas Ballhausen. "With Dylan On The Road" lays down few rules of the game that allow a lot and do not restrict. The students organize themselves independently and with great readiness for interdisciplinarity. From the very beginning, this is a project that goes beyond the idea of practice, towards a new, innovative way of understanding study: a 'study on the road'. Virtually, each team is accompanied by "Dylan buddies" who act as contact persons for the duration of the project. They come from the fields of science, journalism, philosophy, research and art. What they all have in common is not only a strong connection to Bob Dylan, but also the joy and willingness to be very generous with their time for the project. An approach that also translates to the students. Banauch: "Life ignites on life and enthusiasm on enthusiasm. Taking on tasks on the project, overcoming bureaucratic difficulties and planning works extremely well and without effort. What is emerging here is a large-scale framework for artistic projects that take Dylan as a point of oscillation and from which things evolve." During the trips, Thomas Ballhausen and Eugen Banauch support the teams with Zoom calls, planned visits to the teams in Europe, and they stay informed via interim reports from the students. Monetary security is also provided: As part of a project presentation, the teams presented their plans to representatives of the International Society of Mozarteum University Salzburg, whose financial support had been promised. The quality of the students' presentations, which could be understood intersubjectively, was the decisive factor in securing the financial support - they convinced the jury with their creative-artistic enthusiasm and individual, idiosyncratic projects. Banauch: "It's good, controlled loss of control (laughs). The themes around Dylan, the literariness, the different identities - they wouldn't be new. But the fact that we're using Dylan to make art emerge anew, that's a novelty." The results of the Dylan projects will be presented in October as part of Jazz & The City, a surplus for the students. They receive a publicity, which lets experience once more life reality. Thomas Ballhausen sees the experiences from teaching confirmed: "Give people few rules, a lot of trust and a delightful challenge with a high degree of freedom, then they get into a creative act. That's why we also want to strengthen this type of project curricularly and add it to the classic curriculum, in the spirit of media educator Dieter Baacke: 'In a casual attitude'. That doesn't mean it's less serious. It's taken seriously and seriously in a different way. Just from the logic of an art university. An approach of broader interdisciplinary co-creative work." Banauch adds, "And a certain looseness to go beyond curricular guidelines and actually rethink 'university' in that way. We see the projects as productive detours fully taken. In the spirit of Dylan, what's life without the occasional detour?" (First published in Uni-Nachrichten / Salzburger Nachrichten on June 11, 2022)
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