Plato, Marx and the Paper Doll

So I was sitting in a research skills module yesterday afternoon and we were talking about ideology, as you do. The construction of truth was being picked over and even as Plato and Marx were being flagged up as gurus of the day on the subject, the little paper doll we made on Saturday in Arts and Learning flashed into my mind. Suddenly, I had my Monday lecture; if we usually deconstruct programmes  in order to study genre, audience, purpose etc, I could pop a little creative exercise in there about construction before I set them their homework.

The collaborative doll exercise in which we each tore/cut/scrunched a shape of a paper doll before passing it on to decorate, name and attribute it with loves and hates, has stayed with me. I’ve pondered on what it gave me much more than the installation made up of the contents of our bags, the dodgy drawing of self, inlaid with values, skills and knowledge, and even the shockingly bad ergonomics of Sussex University’s seminar rooms. Yes, of course it’s about giving up control, ownership and being a really crap artist, but it’s also about teamwork and constructing something from nothing that makes you think about important stuff – like control, ownership and… er ideology.

 If I’m to prod my students into thinking about who constructs their truth, then maybe I could ask them to tear up their newspapers in a bid to construct their own first, not to make dolls, but to make themselves – in their own image (or words and images, hopefully). The logistics of passing it on and linking it to the dynamics of a TV production team is escaping me at the moment, but that’s when winging it seems to work best for me… I shall report back.


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