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WTM Forum II: Commoning Art Organization
“But rather than what I would call content-driven critique, what I am interested in is managerial and organizational change that embeds political equality within the organization itself. This necessitates a more humble and messy approach in which the aesthetic is placed on lateral terms with the more mundane opening up of facilities and capacities.”
—Andrea Phillips, “Remaking the Arts Centre,” Cluster Dialectionary (2014)
How should an art organization work if it intends to not only talk about, but also practice the commons? What does “commoning art organization” mean with respect to an organization’s team, artists, communities, network, funders, etc.? How do its front end (presentation) and back end (management) relate? Does an art organization’s micro-politics about equality and self-organization matter amid today’s larger crises? How far have we come with “institutional critique”? As these questions concern scale, effect, and possibility, in the interest of a society and art based on the commons, does change always involve “scaling up,” or are there other approaches to change that can resonate more fully with the practice of the commons?
We, the Casco team and many of its communities would say YES! to finding answers to these questions—yet the process toward commoning needs further exploration. As such we invite art theorist and PARSE Professor of Art and Head of Research at the Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg Andrea Phillips, who has written extensively on potential forms of political, architectural, and social reorganization within art and curating. She argues for the importance of everyday management in art organizations over mere “content-driven critique” and favors artistic practices situated at the “imperial periphery.”
Our current exhibition project We Are the Time Machines: Time and Tools for Commoning includes “tools” from artist Annette Krauss and the Casco team’s project Site for Unlearning: Art Organization (2014–present). The tools evolved from exercises on unlearning the “business and busyness” that results from an emphasis on productivity at Casco. Along with introducing the project, and even questioning what we think is art, Casco serves as a concrete site for forum concerns.
Curator, educator, and professor for curating and mediating art at the Aalto University Nora Sternfeld shares on a collective inquiry into critical management in curating that she co-initiated in 2014. She observes that despite the widespread success of critical artistic and curatorial projects, these critiques have remained almost completely separate from the actual praxis of institutional production. Sternfeld instead makes a case for “the productivity of thinking critique and praxis together.”
Several special guests also take part in discussions. We hope you will join us to work toward cultural and social transformation and share your own experience on art organizations; in the meantime please look at a recent conversation among commons-oriented arts organizations: “Toilet Tissue and Other Formless Organisational Matters.”
Forums start at 14:00 hrs and are free to all. However, reservations are required for organizer and contributor preparation (and yes, seating is limited too); e-mail Steyn Bergs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the day of the forum, come earlier and make your own time to read through and see the exhibition project We Are the Time Machines: Time and Tools for Commoning open from 12:00 hrs.
Next up: Forum III, Commoning Governance, Sun 28 Feb 2016
with founder of the P2P Foundation and Head of Research of Commons Transition Platform Michel Bauwens, theorist and cultural worker and member of Barcelona en Comú Manuela Zechner, and Head Coordinator of Rotterdam Vakmanstad, philosopher, and Casco board member, Aetzel Griffioen
The Commoning Forum Series is curated by Casco’s media and research coordinator Steyn Bergs and director Binna Choi, and is organized by the Casco team.