MUDEC Field Trips: A Photo Essay

by Hannah Sroka, MUDEC Student

Students outside Clervaux CastleMUDEC sprint course field trips continued last week with visits to museums and a youth hostel!

Professor Claudine Bechet-Metz’s ART188 class concluded their field trips with a visit to The Family of Man exhibition in Clervaux. The Family of Man is a series of photographs taken by Edward Steichen, a Luxembourgish photographer who immigrated to the United States at a young age. The exhibition is presented as a photo essay, with the viewer walking through the cycle of life. However, the photos are not grouped chronologically; instead, they present common themes or feelings such as joy, change, or death. Professor Bechet-Metz said that she chose to take students to The Family of Man because it was an excellent alternative to a trip abroad, as students could see photographs depicting life in different times and cultures. She also thought that it would be interesting for students to see the work of an artist who was both Luxembourgish and American.

The Family of Man is held in Clervaux Castle, so after walking through the exhibit, students had a bit of time to explore parts of Clervaux before getting on the bus and heading to their second destination: The Grand Duke Museum of Modern Art, also known as MUDAM.

At MUDAM, students were given a guided tour and learned about contemporary artists like William Kentridge. A lot of the exhibits are difficult to understand, but Professor Bechet-Metz believes it’s just part of “the challenge of contemporary art.” She believes it is a must-see for students, so it has always been part of the ART188 curriculum. It was also a great predecessor to the class’s final unit on modern art movements and allowed students to see contemporary art in person, and not just on a PowerPoint or in a textbook.

Students wearing masks look at exhibits

Art exhibit: a fountain filled with ink

Art exhibit: tree with indoor shadow

Meanwhile, Professor Elena Jackson Albarrán’s HST296 class spent the weekend at a youth hostel in Schengen. Students have spent the past few weeks studying Europe’s open borders and how it affects the integration process. The class visited the town of Schengen, which is where the treaty creating the Schengen Zone in 1985 was signed. The Schengen Zone includes a vast majority of countries in western and central Europe; travelers are allowed to pass through these countries freely.

After arriving in Schengen, students walked to both Germany and France, where they saw parts of the Berlin Wall and a miniature Eiffel Tower.

Group of masked students on steps

Youth Hostel

Blue lake

Confiscated phonesWhen they returned to the hostel, the students took a trip back in time. In addition to studying the Schengen treaty and its resulting open borders policy, students are learning about how youths have used this policy to spread political ideas, create social spaces, and affect the development of travel infrastructure. Students tried to create a 1980s-esque social scene—they gave up their phones, took pictures with polaroids, and created a mixtape! (Unfortunately, cassette tapes were nowhere to be found, but Spotify was a good backup!)

They spent the rest of the night learning about each other. They played Two Truths and a Lie, made five word horror stories, and talked “real politics”. They couldn’t say the names of specific political parties, political philosophies (liberal, conservative, etc), or politicians. They also created yearbook pages, played chess and cards, and drew pictures.

Students in room together

Three Polaroid photos

Students playing chess

Pencils and drawing

Student in Polaroid photo

The next morning, the students checked out of the hostel and spent some time walking around the Haff Remich nature preserve and visiting the Biodiversum nature center.

Professor Albarrán chose this field trip to provide students with a unique perspective about borders and culture. Schengen’s location—right on the border of three countries—allowed students to walk over a country’s border multiple times, which aligned nicely with their studies about Europe’s open border policy. And by spending the night in a youth hostel without technology, students were able to learn about what exploring Europe was like for youths in the past. They were also able to experience the natural beauty of one of Luxembourg’s hidden gems!

Students on patio
scenic view