November 2015 – March 2016

We Are The Time Machines: time and tools for commoning

An exhibition and study program to generate “tools” for practicing the commons.

We Are the Time Machines: Time and Tools for Commoning (WTM) is an exhibition and study program. Both exhibition and study program are open and free for everyone; furthermore, you are invited to actively take part in them.

What is WTM about?

WTM is based on the sense of urgency that our capitalist economy-driven society needs to change. We instead need to be guided by the principle of the commons. [Read the dialogue on the commons here]. As an art institution we ask: How can artworks and other activities taking place through art institutions be shared as knowledge – embodied and practical – for the commons? How should art and art institutions act if they intend to practice the commons, rather than only reflect on it? More specifically, how can an exhibition, the most prominent form of public sharing by art organizations, work toward building – and sustaining – the commons?

The exhibition and study program offer concrete sites for responding to these questions by what we call “tooling:” an active form of composing tools for, about, and of the commons. It experiments with ways to develop and present commoning tools by reworking, recreating, and reenacting artworks alongside research projects and other encounters. What you see in the exhibition space are various “commoning tools” in the making, begun by the Casco team, looking back over the last three years of our program.

The experimentation of tooling includes making time – especially “reproductive” time for things like study and conversation – which we consider a fundamental condition for commoning. As such, the exhibition runs for an extended period of five months, punctuated by various study moments organized by Casco and our communities. The exhibition does not only present “tools” but also involves rooms of various types of activities, gatherings, and facilities. They are to accommodate open processes of such time-making hinging on the embrace of different life rhythms in common.

It thereby marks the culmination of Composing the Commons, the research trajectory for Casco’s program since 2013, and articulates Casco’s position after its first 25 years.

WTM Rooms – See, Study, Hang Around, Use

The exhibition is made up of primarily four rooms. In each room, you can take part in various activities. They are not only for looking or watching, typical of any art exhibition, but for drawing, reading, exercising, organizing, lying down, closing your eyes, and listening – ;actively tooling for commoning!

Room 1. Room for Collective Imaginary

Making commons just might begin with radical imagination. Imagine different lives, neighborhoods, cities, and worlds and draw from your imagination onto the big round table. It’s for building imaginaries together, and to share fears, anxieties, and troubles.

With – Cooperativa Cráter Invertido & Mattin

Room 2. Office for Unlearning Business / Busyness

Production and management tend to make up the brunt of any office’s activity, including Casco’s. This activity or “business” is often defined by being constantly busy. Can we subvert this, and claim our work around collective study, reproductive labor, and co-management?

* Table, flipchart, printers are available as the commons resources, and for common use!

With – *(Un)usual Business & Annette Krauss

Room 3. Commons Study Library

The basic definition and reality of the commons is what constitutes the land, mountains, rivers, water in general – what makes up our environment. Much of this has been privatized, territorialized, and exploited over the last centuries, with significant impact especially over the last sixty years. In this room, you can delve into the crisis of the commons and broaden your understanding. This understanding includes delving into our knowledge, language, relations, bodies, etc., as the commons, and how to fight to reclaim them from privatization and state appropriation!

With – Sari Denisse, Adelita Husni-Bey Fernando Garcia-Dory, Adrian Jimenez, Tadasu Takamine, Bregtje van der Haak, Aimée Zito Lema with LeRyan, members of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation via Rigo 23, and many more

Room 4. Plane for “UIQ” aka Dark Room

Can we embrace uncertainty and the unknown together in thinking through space and time? Commoning is to dare to dig deep into what we cannot “see” yet!

With – Ruth Buchanan (stairway) & Graeme Thomson and Silvia Maglioni

UIQ (the unmaking-of), Graeme Thomson & Silvia Maglioni

(surround sound installation, 78′, 2015)

UIQ (the unmaking-of) is a spatialized electro-acoustic sound work that Graeme Thomson and Silvia Maglioni have created around Félix Guattari’s unmade science-fiction screenplay, A Love of UIQ (1980-1987). Working with the paradoxical condition of the unmade as something both already and not yet present, a potential field of shifting forms and forces, the filmmakers have sought to “produce” Guattari’s film through a collective experience of envisioning, without filming a single scene. To give shape to the film and to the bodiless entity of its central character, UIQ (the Infra-Quark Universe) – that according to Guattari has no clear sense of identity nor spatial or temporal limits – Thomson and Maglioni decided to look for a completely different type of production support from the normal cinema aid scheme, holding a number of *séances* in several different countries (including one at Casco) and inviting participants to become the receivers, hosts, and transmitters of UIQ, contaminating each other by sharing their own visions and ideas of Guattari’s film and of UIQ’s possible manifestations, both within and beyond the limits of the screenplay. The sound work recombines recorded fragments of these séances in a composition of seventy-five voices, processed field-recordings, and electronic signals, elements that circulate in the room, offering glimpses of a missing film and universe that, though invisible, can begin to affect the listener’s vision.

Conversation Card – Read, Talk, and Write

Rooms and objects in the rooms are accompanied by what we call Conversation Cards. They are for your reading but equally for your own conversation and sharing through writing!

You can consider the Conversation Card as an “extended” caption for an object made available in the exhibition, be it an artwork, documentation or fragment of an artwork, a book, an article, a quotation, etc. We can make the object a tool for commoning through sharing stories around it, study, and conversation, prompted by questions like: How can the object broaden our commons?

This “tooling” is based on the idea that tools for commoning are not preexisting; they are made through collective situations and effort. Instead of the objectively written descriptive text, the Conversation Card spurs experiential stories and subjective writings [1] generated personally and/or collectively.

We suggest “study” as a mode of attending and of sociality in writing the Conversation Card. We understand this study to take place when you make time, be, and struggle together in resisting capitalist mantras and managerial and oppressive systems, to instead build alternatives. It’s a mutual, open form of (un)learning in which action is part of practice.

Gather together friends, colleagues, neighbors, or strangers to form occasional, temporary, or regular study groups or simply to have a conversation. This does not mean, however, that solitary time is of no use as it is what enables collective time and vice versa.

Opening performance: A Score for Sharing Negativity by Mattin

In an effort to “share negativity” a score will be produced for the opening with Mattin and the entire Casco team, as well as the audience and those involved in organizing the opening. The “performers” are asked to share their negative critiques, half-formed thoughts, frustrations, or experiences developed through the making of We Are the Time Machines as they take it in. Everybody is welcome to perform under their own name, a pseudonym, or anonymously. Rather than affirming the project’s intentions, contents, and form, the score prompts questions to dislocate what one knows and give room for expressions of insecurity. It attempts to create a situation wherein performers and audience alike participate at their own pace in a concentrated concert condition.

The performance will be recorded and uploaded to so that anyone can have access to it and/or analyze it. In doing so we hope we achieve an exercise in what Mattin calls “Open Source Subjectivity.”

[1] An example of this kind of writing is what Seoul-based philosopher and art critic Hyosil Yang calls feminist writing, 

“The writing that is written about which one cannot live without is greater than that written about what one thinks is right. There tends to be power/violence performed in the writing that is written for all, written for a big cause, for objective truth, for urgency. The result is contrary as confessional writing can fall into the trap of narcissism. However, the writing that weaves the confessional narrative into an ideological and a structural context enables us to become historical subjects beyond self-pity. The writing that is abstract or written for all is a form of narcissistic writing that kills others. The writing that is fragile at the very beginning, which I call feminist writing, calls for us to imagine the commons by making contact with collective and social problems. Confession is a strategy using words to reflect how we can live with those I don’t know, who hurt me, who I would like to kill.” 

Excerpt from an interview with Hyosil Yang, Art Always and Eagerly Spoke of the Urgency from the Margin, published in *Article* in August 2013, translation by Binna Choi.


Casco’s program is made possible with financial support from City Council of Utrecht, Mondriaan Fund, DOEN Foundation, and European Union Culture Programme. We Are the Time Machines: Time and Tools for Commoning is also supported by K.F. Hein Fund.

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