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25 April - 1 June

I studied very hard in school and used to find that I understood the things I was taught in lessons quite easily. However, in order to make sure my grades were as good as they could be, I would cheat on tests as much as possible. It was difficult to do while taking them – plus the value of learning from one’s mistakes was not lost on me – so I relied more on marking, which we were often trusted to do ourselves in class, to correct my answers. Sometimes I would circle two answers I thought of as equal contenders very faintly and cement my final choice as the correct answer was called out. Other times I would slash a deep, hard scribble around and through my original ringed letter, slaloming in and out of it to create what looked like a drunk or angry daisy, and arch around to the correct option in a single deft movement. If the architecture of the classroom allowed for particular discretion, I would station a triangular shaving of rubber beneath my pencil, holding the pencil with my index finger and thumb whilst my middle supported the rubber in a way that meant I could slide either component to be frontline in meeting with the paper. I limited myself to one or two corrections per test so as not to seem suspicious. If we had to swap papers with our peers, I would make a quiet request to the person sitting next to me to not mark the answers I had gotten wrong in order to decide for myself what to do with them, which they would either do or not do depending on their moral standing.

I left school with good grades and started an art foundation course in London. A few months into the course, I showed my teacher a video comprising raw footage from YouTube that I had edited together using free digital video software. The footage was from a famous, middle-aged skateboarder’s feature for a video commissioned by skate brand Enjoi and was filmed in Italy in 2006, but I told my teacher that I had filmed it in the town I grew up in during the previous summer. He turned to face the screen and frowned slightly. His eyes made small movements over the preview window, his mouth twisting up a little bit on one side. I watched him and began to feel a sting of tears. He glanced over at me before returning to the screen, and he was still frowning but it had moved kind of sideways from where it was before. After a while, he said

“When I was 19, my foundation took us on a research trip to Germany. We arrived in Berlin and on the first night I went to a club that was full of gay skinheads and I got really fucked up. I was there all night and I didn’t stop dancing. The next day our class had to meet in one of the national museums. I had managed to make it back to the hostel, but was only there long enough to shower, change and head out again. We gathered in front of the museum and headed inside with a tour guide my teacher had organised to show us around. I departed from the group and walked around until I found a room with three really huge Rembrandts, with large sections of them unfinished. There was a bench in the middle and I sat and looked at them for three hours, until my teacher found me and told me we were moving on to the next show. I was coming down really hard from the night before. I was crying the whole time.”