fold #02 on Commons
Design by Jinhye Lee
July 2021 – October 2021
July 2021 – September 2021
Residency Jaclyn Mednicov (US)
July 2021 – October 2021
Collaborative research on Commons with Tudor Bratu (RO/NL) and Willem de Haan (NL/DE) in collaboration with The Balcony and Susan Bites The Hague
Date to be announced
Reading group I with Amy Franceschini (Future Farmers)
Date to be announced
Reading group II with ..
22-09 – 26.09.2021
Video Art and experimental film Event (#VAEFE)
Apply within the open call
Date to be announced
Reading group III with …
Find the full reading list on commons here.
Commoning is sustained by cooperation and collaborative action. It supports the development of social and ecological values and strengthens global solidarity, setting up new systems bottom-up, for example for locally-based provisions for care. In practice, commoning means negotiating, cooperating and communicating for shared purposes and collective benefit. Dynamic ecosystems are created to meet shared needs. A commons needs three components: a resource, an associated community, and the rules the community uses to control the resource.
Commoning is an ancient, historical, and essential survival strategy that provides more equitable methods of meeting our needs in difficult times. Whether it is agroecology, decentralized governance, the maker movement, citizen science, struggles to end interconnected oppressions such as the climate crisis, inequality in society, crime, and so on. The practice of commoning gives us new perspectives and weaves the struggles of separate stand-alone issues into coherent movements. By demonstrating that socio-collective solutions of care, openness, reciprocity and responsible resource management are possible, commoning will be able to break current destructive capitalist habits. Commoning offers different types of resilient, just and green futures, and an alternative political economy based on abundance, not scarcity and greed.
An important work for understanding the commons is Commonwealth (2009) by Negri and Hardt. The commons as they explain it is not only about materiality, but also about intangibles such as language or science, which are very difficult to privatize or make into state property. Negri and Hardt also argue that the commons are neither private nor public; they are both and something else at the same time: between the market and therefore the state, in another sphere. In the long run, and this is a positive view, the authors predict that we will end up in the commons anyway. Pascal Gielen who brings Rancière and Mouffe: agonism and dissensus into the discussion, defines that he does not see the commons as a “community” where you reside not so much as in the harmony of living in the 1960s, but more as an area of constant conflicts, quarrels, and discussions. Discussions are very productive for the commons. Throughout history, there are many traces of the commons, and this is highlighted in the publication No Culture, No Europe (2015).
We imagine art and culture as a sub-set of the cultural commons—something new that emerges out of various combinations of cultural ingredients and humanities traditions passed down from our families, rituals and ceremonies were given to us by our communities and interactions, to mark purpose. Artistic practices and art professionals add to the fabric of investigating and assessing our identity, our human activities and how we can critically reflect and express these. Art is a combination of imagination, action and being that connects people, heals them, makes them receptive and creates new worldviews.
Commons and Art
The commons is a social form that allows people to enjoy freedom without oppressing others, to establish justice without bureaucratic control, to nurture commons also as togetherness without coercion, and to assert sovereignty without nationalism. Numerous strands of contemporary theory and aesthetics now engage in such reformulation: participatory art, collaborative art, practical aesthetics, the art of the every day, posthumanism, affect theory, new materialism. Comprising a diverse and sometimes warring collection of thinkers and artists, the advocates of such practices nonetheless agree that reconceiving the commons requires rethinking the relations between ethics, art, and the political in ways that take into account the hegemony of the capitalist system and the marketization of everyday life as well as the ongoing degradation of the planetary ecosystem.
It is important to remember, however, that the rhetoric of the commons has been present, if not dominant, in the creative arts since the early twentieth century. As articulated by participatory and public art projects, the arts of the common are those that value inclusivity, the exchange of ideas, and play and creativity between human (and nonhuman) entities.
Commoning in art designates arts that support and employ alternative spaces and public performances; that encourage public participation in the making of art; that wish to undermine or redefine the authority of institutions such as museums, universities and, ultimately, markets in order to allow the public to engage with and control art production and interpretation. In this context, art facilitates the creation of new models of community and sociality. Projects built upon these ideas can be found in the modernist avant-garde and through different strands of twentieth-century movements, from Fluxus interventions to Allan Kaprow’s Happenings and Augusto Boal’s legislative theatre, and through the late century’s relational aesthetics and participatory art movements. After the 1990s, artists, curators, and cultural theorists increasingly asserted the urgency of creating new social models and political collectives that are rooted in commons logic. While many artists and theorists today continue to centre twenty-first-century aesthetics in ethics of relationality, they often redefine the foundational concepts. For example, anthropocentric humanism and principles of exchange, upon which older relational models and collectives were based.
To be clear, the commons is not just small-scale projects to improve life. It is a vision to rethink our future together and even to reinvent the social system, the economy, infrastructure, politics and state power. For example, the Spanish village Marinaleda is completely self-sufficient. Global ecological movements now use the commons to denote the planet itself, understood as an evolving, living ecosystem shared by all, rather than a discrete site or resource legislated by a particular community.
Together we can
If commoning involves complex and historically specific processes in which representations, practices, and values intersect in delineating what should be shared in a specific society and how: Where, for example, can we locate the possibilities of the space of the commons? Based on the notion that “commoning practices” are characterized both by the means they employ and by the actors who participate in them, SEA Foundation will spend the next few months exploring how our lived space can become a shaping factor of solidarity and collaborative relationships among “commoners.”
If commons were associations and mixedly populated by cultural professionals, among others, then these movements of commons would be hybrid, despite having very heterogeneous agendas and demands. Such as demands for gender equality, social and economic equality combined with ecological sustainability. In this sense, these new civic movements, in which arts professionals are at the forefront, are fighting in a holistic way for a total change. By sustaining the culture of a community, art is inherently part of the commons. Because of its open nature, the commons can in turn support the arts. With art and the commons, together we can create a new society based on shared principles of equality.
Find the reading list here.
Some internet references