skip navigation

F: Reconstituting Tolstoy College

September 16, 2021—March 12, 2022

UB CFA Gallery

Opening Reception Thursday, September 16, 5:00-7:30pm

F: Reconstituting Tolstoy College examines the genesis, lifespan, and eventual dissolution of College F—an anarchist educational community known colloquially as Tolstoy College—which operated within the University at Buffalo between 1969 and 1985. Bringing together the results of archival research, oral history, and a design and construction workshop, the exhibition considers Tolstoy College’s activities and impulses and weighs the possibilities of an anarchist pedagogical experiment today.


Organized by Collective Question (Steven Chodoriwsky, Chris Lee, and Julie Niemi) and Liz Park, Curator, UB Art Galleries, the exhibition includes a short film, made in collaboration with Ben Balcom; a series of furniture sculptures, built alongside participants from Assembly House 150 (Quincy Koczka, Adrienne Massey, Frances Parson, and Meaghan Rolle-Heldwein); and an installation by Kameelah Janan Rasheed. These interventions are anchored by a selection of archival materials, which together recast Tolstoy College’s project of forming trusting collective groups that take shape around a common goal of honesty, frankness, and informality.


Special thanks to Michael Basinski, Dennis Maher, Peter Murphy, Peter Ngo, Chip Planck, Paul Richmond, Danielle St-Amour, Jennifer Wilson, Rachel Valinsky, Alex van Oss, and Nicolas Vass.


Support for this exhibition is provided in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.


* COLLECTIVE QUESTION (CQ) is a working group comprised of Steven Chodoriwsky, Christopher Lee, and Julie Niemi. CQ creates projects that respond to themes and questions of radicalism and oppression within systems of power, in this current case, the university. CQ’s current research looks at Tolstoy College at the University at Buffalo as a case study and the syllabus as a utopian document of subversion.


Image: Collective Question, F: Reconstituting Tolstoy College (study), 2021. GIF. Courtesy of the artists.