Group Session + Personal Presentation

Being a photographer, my presentation, during the Group session, has included a number of shots that I took either on assignment or while producing my own fine arts. The display was aimed to show the different fields I touch upon in my everyday professional practice as Photographer, Art Director, and Editor. I focused the narration on my academic background, in order to highlight the peculiar characteristics that contributed to shape my identity, and personality. Then I shifted to the professional experiences gained through my  25 years career, and the description of my curriculum in the fashion and advertising industry, Publishing Houses, music, contemporary arts and photography.

The group presentation was structured to allow each of the ten participants with a 5 minutes talk, in which discuss either the curriculum or personal experience in academia. The students could contribute with a  few visual slides, up to a number of 5. I chose to project an animated page, displaying my website, and the images that feature in this article. Most of my peers preferred instead to focus on the speech, and this seemed to me a successful choice for them, in particular for those who clearly showed some skills for public talk.  Observing the different styles of presentations was very interesting, as well as receiving feedback on my personal one. The group activity involved discussion with all students in regards to the way the speech was delivered, as well as the content. I found myself making often comments about the body language, self-confidence, while observing the variety of narratives. It’s fair to mention that every individual managed to distinguish in a very unique way, the variety of backgrounds, as well as experiences was rather exciting, and showed me the potential of enriching ourselves through open confrontations and debates. The session went on smoothly, and it was mainly conducted by us students. What I gained, it was to understand how sharing info on my personal background, could actually contribute to make people understand who I am. Coming from the industry, I must admit this behavior being rarely approved, whereas privacy is often considered a must. Professionals in my field tend to exclude any personal details from their practice, in order to be perceived “less human”, I guess, and therefore less at risk of failure. The life outside the working environment is the one that mostly engage your emotions, and this is often seen as a potential source of weaknesses. Finally we briefly discuss the chapter that was given us to read prior to the group session, at the introductory lesson of the 16th Jan.: “Reading, engagement and higher education’, Higher Education Research & Development, 38 by Aldridge, D.”. Some of the key concepts in regards to engagement, and engaging students in the learning activities started a fruitful debate around methodologies, and the different approaches in teaching. I personally found Aldridge’s reflections very intriguing, in a way the reminded me of some theories by Albert Einstein, particularly when the “alienation” is considered as an opportunity, or perhaps a challenge, to foster people’s engagement. The famous scientist said: “Humiliation and mental oppression by ignorant and selfish teachers wreak havoc in the youthful mind that can never be undone and often exert a baleful influence in later life.” And then added: “The real difficulty, the difficulty that has frustrated the sages of all times, is this: how can we make our teaching effective to the point that its influence on the emotional life of man can resist the pressure of the elementary psychic forces of the individual? We do not know, of course, if the sages of the past have really posed this question with the same awareness and in the same form; but we know how much they have tried to solve the problem.”

Creativity comes from anguish as the day comes from the dark night. It is in the crisis that inventiveness arises, discoveries and great strategies. Those who overcome the crisis surpass themselves without being ‘overcome’.

Who attributes his failures and difficulties to the crisis, violates his own talent and gives more value to problems than to solutions. The real crisis is the crisis of incompetence. The inconvenience of people and nations is laziness in seeking solutions and ways out. Without crisis there are no challenges, without challenges life is a routine, a slow agony. Without crisis there is no merit. It is in the crisis that emerges the best of everyone, because without crisis all the winds are only slight breezes. To speak of crisis means to increase it, and to be silent in the crisis is to exalt conformism. Instead, we work hard. Let’s finish it once and for all with the only dangerous crisis, which is the tragedy of not wanting to fight to overcome it. ”


Elena Arzani