The project “Government Studies” brings together artistic research, activism, and educational elements to highlight the intricate connection between politics, economy, and education through the documentation of street protests and the creation of zines.
The project centres around the National Day of Teachers Strike in the UK in 2023, a pivotal event in the country’s educational history. Organized by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the strike coincided with another strike orchestrated by the University and College Union (UCU), of which the author is a member. Instead of participating in their usual work duties as teacher in the “Photobook Publishing” module, the author chose to document the teachers’ march in central London.
The decision to photograph each protest sign and treat the street protest as a “class on government studies” is justified by several reasons. Some teachers’ signs resembled classroom materials, such as PowerPoint infographics or exam papers, connecting the protest to the theme of education; the formation of the marching teachers resembled a disciplined classroom line, conveying a sense of instruction and unity; and the slogans chanted by the teachers mirrored typical classroom instructions.
The photozine created as a result of this documentation plays a significant role in conveying the essence of the project. The use of close-up shots of posters, banners, and placards allows readers to engage with the signs on a personal level, fostering a deeper connection to the protest’s message. Notably, the photozine cover depicts a teacher holding a “Government Studies” test, appropriating the aesthetics of an exam paper for a protest poster.
Moreover, the swift creation and publication of the 84-page photozine through the imprint “msdm publications” and its subsequent gifting to UCU to raise funds for the striking teachers exemplify the impact and urgency of the project. Two weeks later upon return to the classroom , during a called out strike-break, the zine also served as an educational tool, used as a case study to teach students about protest zines and activist publishing strategies.
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