[-empyre-] The Commons

linda carroli lcarroli at optusnet.com.au
Sat Jun 25 08:03:00 EST 2011

I have enjoyed the responses to this post about the ideas posted. Actually,
really loved how there's a sense of readiness and willingness to experiment
and cultivate.

The word that cropped into my mind when re-reading them - apologies for
being slow on the uptake - is the figuring of 'doing' and 'undoing' ... I
find this particularly relevant in terms of Bill's comment as someone who is
'doing a biennial' but 'undoing the model'. It becomes quite methodological
- suggesting a politics of process, which ideas of unconferencing and the
like tend to capture.


I have another question to extend Bill's points about institutions, cities
and communities ... How can planners (cultural/urban/social planners)
support these politics? The drive of tactical urbanism and other spatial
politics and production seem to suggest that planners and designers can play
a role purely by addressing the civic and cultural dimensions of cities and
towns in 'other' ways. The pitch of tactical urbanism (etc) should provide
ample opportunity for planning to learn, change and evolve. Perhaps that's
what is missing from the biennial, a kind of agile learning process that
means the city/locale itself learns something about itself, sees potential
and adapts. 





From: empyre-bounces at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au
[mailto:empyre-bounces at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Bill Kelley Jr.
Sent: Thursday, 23 June 2011 4:10 PM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] The Commons


Greetings Empyre community,


I'm encouraged that the commons discussion includes discussions concerning

I'm currently curating one (although it doesn't call itself one), the 2011
Encuentro de Medellin.


Yes, it's true, now more than ever, that there must be a reappraisal of
"artistic and cultural development in a world that needs a sustainable
integration of issues related to arts, environment and humanity." I think
the biennial might be a place where that CAN happen. 


The nimble and temporal nature of the biennial lets it take on risky
programming that museum's won't do, while its locality-centered identity
seems to attract artists focused on investigating local issues. In the best
case scenario that works out well. Local artists and communities share
experiences, etc etc.


But more often than not, the biennial turns inwards and reflects the logic
of the curators who organize it. And generally curatorial logic, that formed
to nurture  autonomous aesthetic experiences, is the litmus test for
educational/pedagogical possibilities and programming, public outreach,
community partnerships (if you can call them that) and just about everything
else you can think of. Everything goes to serve that logic and opportunities
for the discipline of art to flex new muscles and reach new communities are


Serving that logic generally means you end up with artists being parachuted
in, and local communities are counted on to pad the numbers at the hosting
museum, and that's it. Pretty conventional stuff.


But what if this notion of the commons was taken seriously and the logic,
was re considered from the ground up. No curatorial legacy to uphold. Just
serious considerations of what art can do locally and communally. That would
mean thinking about the public in more efficient and strategic ways. 

One way is working with artists who not only want to deal with local issues
but have the desire and know-how to work with communities. This would
require both curators and artists targeting, not the public at-large, but
what Grant Kester calls "politically coherent communities" - nodes of
interested parties, both specialized and not, that would assist in helping
artists work towards creative interlocution, BEFORE the artist arrives.


Of course, this proposal only works with museums that have these kinds of
interests, and hosting cities with a richness of local organizations to
balance the professional ones. And it only works if you have a committed and
knowledgable curatorial team to recruit the right artists and identify the
right issues and successfully frame the project within an art discourse that
has historically had problems being so trans-disciplinary.


Its what we're trying to do in Medellin. But I'd be eager to hear other
opinions on this.








Bill Kelley Jr.
83 Orange Blossom
Irvine, CA 92618
h: 949.654.0207
m: 323.687.4694


http://www.latinart.com <http://latinart.com> 
http://www.otis.edu/gpp <http://otis.edu/gpp> 





From: Tracey M Benson <bytetime at gmail.com>
Reply-To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2011 11:07:32 +1000
To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] The Commons


Hi Linda,

Thanks for your insightful views considering the role of the biennial. 

Your three key themes of 'Recovery and Regeneration', 'From Emergency to
Emergence', and 'The Commons' all have serious implications for artistic and
cultural development in a world that needs a sustainable integration of
issues related to arts, environment and humanity.  Cultural tourism may have
economic benefits on a local level and on an organisational level but at
what cost? I have certainly not felt all that comfortable attending
festivals interstate and overseas because of my carbon footprint and I think
this is a crucial issue to consider as part of designing the
biennial/festival model.

The example of  the Prospect Biennial in New Orleans, is inspiring example
for cultural regeneration and I think the dialogue between artists and
community needs to flow not just through the spectacle of the 'biennial' but
in a way that can inspire and invigorate culture on a day-to-day level.

Also agree about how the typical hieracrchical strucutre of the curated
structure of festivals does not allow for much innovation and 'risk', which
is why I prefer the 'unconference' model used by fo.am <http://fo.am/>  and
THATcamp as it is more inclusive and representative as well as a great way
of brainstorming ideas.




On Sat, Jun 18, 2011 at 6:06 AM, linda carroli <lcarroli at optusnet.com.au>

Final text. All texts available online starting from here:

The Commons

Taking cues from the examples and critics cited here, the idea of the
commons has emerged as a networked space of creative and generative
possibility and risk. To recover is to reclaim. In shaping the commons, Jay
Walljasper states that we "recognise some forms of wealth belong to all of
us, and that these community resources must be actively protected and
managed for the good of all. The commons are the things that we inherit and
create jointly, and that will (hopefully) last for generations to come. The
commons consists of gifts of nature such as air, oceans and wildlife as well
as shared social creations such as libraries, public spaces, scientific
research and creative works." http://www.onthecommons.org
<http://www.onthecommons.org/>  However, there's
never just one commons - the commons itself is multiple and complex, in
process and becoming. Artists actively keep the commons alive in the face of
all kinds of opposition, censorship and antagonism.

So what kind of art and art event is integral to this becoming or emergence?
Several essays in Empires, Ruins + Networks: The Transcultural Agenda in
Art, edited by Scott McQuire and Nikos Papastergiadis, also explore the
possibility of a new network of global cultural dialogue and the
construction of a global common. What I see happening in post-disaster work
of the three examples cited earlier is a sense of the 'becoming commons'
emerging from ruins and loss in a situation of what Ross Gibson might
describe as 'changefulness'. It's what I am inclined to think of as practice
based, as 'changescaping' (work in progress at

How do we reconcile the sometimes exclusive and exclusionary cultural
practices with this call for 'the commons' and emergence? Whose
responsibility is it to do the bridging (politics, art or, as Papastergiadis
proposes, the "politics of art"), generating those relationships or draw
those connections? What should we risk? The very idea - the possibility, the
assumption - of the Biennial itself. Ultimately, there's a question of
governance and stewardship. As Brenson says, "we have to talk about art in
ways in which everyone has something to lose". If critical art, as McQuire
and Papastergiadis write, "increasingly take an active role in constituting
new social relationships" - or as Richard Rorty proposes, "speaks
differently" - curators have a pivotal role to play in cultivation and
caring (curare), politics and poetics. We all have a role to play in the
poiesis of the commons.

Thanks so much ... look forward to your comments.


empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au


Dr Tracey Meziane Benson (aka bytetime)

Adjunct Postdoctoral Fellow || The Australian National University || School
of Music

Visiting Scholar || The Australian University || School of Cultural Inquiry

You can find bytetime on twitter, delicious, scribd, flickr, linkedin,
identica, slideshare and facebook.



www.byte-time.net <http://www.byte-time.net/> 
www.xconnectmedia.com <http://www.xconnectmedia.com/>  
www.fauxonomy.org <http://www.fauxonomy.org/> 




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