The Common Sense Phase 1

The work by Melanie Gilligan takes the form of a sci-fi mini-series which looks at how we are shaped by technological advancements within capitalism.

Melanie Gilligan’s largest project to date, The Common Sense takes the form of a sci-fi mini-series which looks at how minds, bodies, and interpersonal relations are shaped by technological advancements within capitalism. This experimental narrative drama tells a story that revolves around a future technology which allows one to directly experience another person’s bodily sensations and affect, a system that becomes widely adapted altering social interactions until it breaks down and alternative narratives unfold.

Gilligan draws upon a feminist sci-fi tradition that includes the work of writers Octavia E. Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin in which sci-fi is used as a means for both critiquing a social order and proposing a different vision. The story is also influenced by recent social movements and riots across the world responding to the “permanent crisis” of capitalism. Gilligan explores the complex relationship between the technological development as propelled by capitalist accumulation and how interpersonal relations and emotions are instrumentalized in this process. However, the artist also leaves open some uncertainty for possibilities regarding the new conditions technological change can create.


This series is the first co-commission by three institutions in the Netherlands of a single work by an artist. This winter it is presented sequentially in overlapping exhibitions with different episodes opening at Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory in Utrecht, De Hallen Haarlem (opening: 13 December), and De Appel (opening: 23 January 2015) in Amsterdam, creating a nomadic viewing experience through which to see the entire work. The Common Sense was filmed in Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Toronto and is supported by Dommering Foundation. The Toronto shooting was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the University of Toronto.

Casco’s program is made possible with the financial support of City Council of Utrecht, Mondriaan Fund, DOEN Foundation and the European Union Culture Programme.

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