In recent decades we have seen artists install temporary bus stops in remote rural communities, plant trees and start new political parties, or give away their free time to strangers in the street. The Venice Biennial operates under the banner of ‘Freespace’, with entire pavilions housing not art but offices for statistics, given over to a critique of colonial rule and the social inequalities caused by financial capitalism. We see architects routinely engaging in participatory projects, moving from planning buildings to designing infrastructures and job placements for refugees. The world of product design and fashion has absorbed the philosophy of reuse, recycling, and the idea of wiki-designs, abandoning the concept of the patent in favour of shared patterns distributed freely in the digital domain. Musicians experiment with open scores, handing the creative process over to the performers. Not Greek myths, but Donna Haraway’s tentacular ideas on "how to live and die well together" and "staying with the trouble" are written on banners and splayed out over the canvases.
Studio 11 explores these developments from the perspective of Commonism – the radical new ideology with an o in the middle. It asks how commoning acts, political activism and interventionism, participatory design processes, and the idea of collective ownership and authorship have transformed the world of art, architecture and design beyond recognition. What are the consequences of this transformation, and what is its history? What happened to the work of art? What is the aesthetic dimension of commoning acts?
Studio 11 is taught in collaboration with the new Design for Cultural Commons - MA at The Cass. It adopts the commons discourse both as a topic – an expanding field of ideas to which the studio wants to make new contributions – as well as a way of teaching and learning: setting up common writing and research frameworks, a space for debate and publication, dialogues with practitioners and curators, and an environment in which students can move between theory and practice, speculation and action.
Suggested readings, resources and preparatory activities
- Evening Class
- Dutch Art Institute
- Public Works
- We Are Time Machines
- Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri on Assembly (video)
- 2016 Anthropocene Consortium Series: Donna Haraway (video)
- Baldwin, James, The Fire Next Time: My Dungeon Shook; Down at the Cross, New Ed edition (London: Penguin Classics, 1990)
- Benjamin, Walter, ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’, in Illuminations, ed. by Hannah Arendt (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), pp. 253–264
- De Andrade, Oswald, ‘Cannibalist Manifesto (1928)’, in 100 Artists’ Manifestos, ed. by Alex Danchev (London: Penguin, 2011)
- Dockx, Nico, and Pascal Gielen, Exploring Commonism: A New Aesthetics of the Real (Amsterdam: Valiz, 2019)
- Flusser, Vilém, and Louis Bec, Vampyrotheutis Infernalis: A Treatise, with a Report by the Institut Scientifique de Recherche Paranaturaliste (Minneapolis, Minn.; London: University of Minnesota Press, 2012)
- Goldsmith, Kenneth, Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011)
- Hansen, Sidsel Meineche, and Tom Vandeputte, eds., Politics of Study (London and Odense: Occasional Table & Open Editions / Funen Art Academy, 2015)
- Haraway, Donna J, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham: Duke University Press Books, 2016)
- Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri, Assembly (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017)
- ———, Commonwealth (Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009)
- Kohlmaier, Joseph, ‘The Imaginary Sensory’, in The Listening Reader, ed. by Joseph Kohlmaier and Sam Belinfante (London: Cours de Poétique, 2016)
- Ted Purves, What We Want Is Free: Generosity and Exchange in Recent Art / Edited by Ted Purves., SUNY Series in Postmodern Culture (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2005)
- Valéry, Paul, ‘Course in Poetics: First Lesson’, in The Creative Process, Etc., by Brewster Ghiselin (New York: New American Library of World Literature, 1955), pp. 92–106
Image: Musarc shifting earth at Odrathek to Joseph Kohlmaier and Claudia Molitor’s Die Gedanken Sind Frei, May 2018. Photo: Yiannis Katsaris
Studio 01: Imperfect Theories
Things can lead to theories. They can point to a way of seeing artefacts or objects that is more significant than the thing itself.
Studio 02: Narrative, Storytelling and Time
This studio focus on modes of storytelling and narrative conventions. We particularly focus on time in narrative, and the studio undertakes a brief aesthetics of time and thinks about how art and culture has imagined time.
Studio 03: Memento
The Memento research studio employs a critical, layered and multi-disciplinary approach to the problems around memory and society.
Studio 04: Knowing Audiences
In this studio we will be thinking about audiences, how they can be understood, theorised and researched.
Studio 05: Small Encounters
Emma Davenport and Gina Pierce
Textiles present exciting material and theoretical opportunities for us to think through our practice, to make sense of the world around us in the past, present and future.
Studio 06: Performative Acts: Art, Architecture and Writing
Nico de Oliveira
In the last decade or so we have moved from objects to subjects or audiences. In parallel, the word performative has been adapted from a theoretical term to a key rubric within the discourse of contemporary art, architecture and beyond.
Studio 07: Meaningful Work
"The aim of art is to destroy the curse of labour by making work the pleasurable satisfaction of our impulse towards energy, and giving to that energy the hope of producing something worth the exercise." William Morris
Studio 08: The Liminal
This Dissertation Studio examines instances of the liminal as they occur in critical theory and culture, and is open to any topic and students from all disciplines.
Studio 09: The Form of the Text
Studio 9 encourages you to approach the dissertation as a crafted textual project. Through workshops and seminars we will consider some of the elements and activities of which the dissertation is comprised, and look at innovative and exciting ways to work with the form of the text, and the act of building it.
Studio 10: Science Fiction Futurity
The utopia of technology never quite arrived. In the 1960s, you often hear, we were promised flying cars, space settlements, robot butlers and the end of work. But then, curiously, the horizon of futurity diminished.
Studio 11: Commonism
Commonism – with an o in the middle – explores how political activism, participatory design processes, interventionism, collective action and shared authorship are transforming the world of art, architecture and design.
Studio 12: Globalism
For good or ill, we live in a global world. Whilst this may appear to be obvious, globalism is only a relatively recent term as is the phenomenon itself. What do we mean by this? How did we arrive in this place?
Studio 13: Data Stories
Dissertations produced in this studio will be informed by critical research into how data is collected and then used as raw material with which to make or mediate architecture, design and art work.
Studio 14: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture, and Liberation through Music and Performance
This interdisciplinary studio reflects the widening of music and film studies in the last thirty years to include popular music, and popular culture linking art, music, film, advertising, social issues and minority struggles for liberation.
Studio 15: London Walking
Walking as a mode of art practice has its roots in the Dada and Situationist movements of the early twentieth century, with significant developments during the conceptual ‘turn’ of the 1960s.
Studio 16: Souvenir
This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past. It considers the role of memory and how it is embodied in cultural artefacts.