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Free Suzana Milevska

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Please read Suzana Milevska's letter to you:

Dear students, colleagues, friends,

Unfortunately, our teacher Suzana Milevska is stuck in a terrible situation. The academy have disrespected her as an academic professional, because of this, she would like to leave. She has suffered from lies, manipulation and intimidation. Of course, this has left a very bad taste in her mouth.

In an open letter, she has spoken of her disappointment and explained to her most important audience: you, us - the students- why she has come to her conclusion.

Please read Suzana Milevska's letter to you:

As you can imagine, the politics of this situation are not so easy. She must break away from a contract which is binding. It is difficult, but she is fighting to do so. She is not a woman who would roll over. Why should she? She is an example to us all, of respect for others and self respect.

But she needs our help. She needs our signatures to free her from this situation. Let's support her by showing solidarity.

Why don't we rally up, discuss this and make some noise. Let's help 'free Suzana!' Let's help her to do as she wishes - resign gracefully from a body who she can no longer work for. As you know, she is a woman who always treated us with respect and thereby, commands respect in return. Now it is impossible for her to continue working under people who have abused her trust.

I know if we were in trouble and she could be vocal in supporting us, she would. I say, let's give something back.

Call of action: please help me circulate this email to her former students, colleagues of yours, and let's get this petition going, maybe even a small performative action, just to make her smile again!

Read and Sign Please, Students, Colleagues & Friends of Suzana Milevska.

Open letter:

Dear Students of the “Central and South Eastern European Art Histories” course,

With this letter I want to inform you that I am no longer the Endowed Professor for Central and South Eastern Art Histories. A new professor was already appointed to the post. Although the legal procedures of my appeal to the Equal Opportunities Team and the Arbitration Commission, as well as the resignation are not yet completed, I am not in a situation to continue teaching the course as I have lost all trust and respect for the structures and individuals who initiated and provided for the realisation of this course and my position – through the official partnership between the Erste Foundation and the Academy of Fine Arts. The use of asymmetrical power relations, which included manipulation, intimidation, intrigue and contradicting exploitation, even some “editorial interventions” (read: censorship) of my work were some of the constant pressures which happened during the preceding period. It simply turned to be too much to handle, leading to my resignation (and even to the deterioration of my fragile health).

I will need some time to re-think the political positions regarding my curatorial and theoretical work. They were profoundly affected, in negative terms, during the last period of my teaching. I’ve lost this job and this is not a big deal for me, being independent most of my life. But, it’s important to know whether I’ve lost it because I was “too critical” and disobeyed or because I didn’t team up with “the powers that be”? Instead, I’ve devoted most of my time to preparing the lectures and seminars and discussing different topics and concerns with you, even outside of the classroom. We’ll probably never find out the answer to this, because “truth is the hostage of force.” One thing became certain, that on the stage of neoliberal systemic intervention within the educational structures whatever teaching “performances” I realised in the past and planed for the future were overwritten and became “infelicitous” – to use J. L. Austin’s analysis of “speech acts” in which the performative speeches turn into empty promises depending on the given context.

As you know I designed the course as a group PEN-PAL project. It was envisioned in order to continue the dialogue between the “East” and “West” (“North” and “South”). But my own case proved that such a dialogue, even twenty five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall (and eighteen years after the scepticism of Igor Zabel’s textDialogue East-West: East Is East?), is still not possible, or at least not inthisinstitutional framework and not on equal basis.

I will soon provide you with my resignation letters (the first was not accepted) and further information on the reasons of my adamant decision to resign. I’ve sent the first letter after the scandal with the schizophrenic selection process for the new call for my position (which revealed that the Rector made her decision opposite to the unanimous support of my application from the Institute of Art Theory and Cultural Studies that hosts the Professorship). I am sure that you could understand better my decision than the Rectorate because you were the only witnesses and the end recipients of the course content. A course that was based on certain beliefs which right now are only in the past, and which I cannot proceed to present without cynicism – a state of mind which I refuse as a kind of teaching and theorising framework.

Sincerely apologetic,

Dr. Suzana Milevska,
ex-professor for Central and South Eastern European Art Histories
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

12 April, 2015

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