Platform for Art, Culture
and the Public Domain

Beyond Allegories

The following propositions were developed on the occasion of the Beyond Allegories debate, for which 250 artists, politicians, union representatives, university professors, dramatists, representatives from refugee organisations and NGOs, journalists and students gathered together for seven hours in Amsterdam’s City Council to discuss the role of art within governance, political mobilisation and action. This debate was organised by Ann Demeester (De Hallen | Frans Hals Museum), Carolien Gehrels (until recently Alderman for Art & Culture, PvdA/Labor Party Amsterdam) and the artists Hans van Houwelingen and Jonas Staal in an effort to forge new progressive alliances. The texts will be part of the DVD-book Beyond Allegories, a collection of the resolutions and videos that resulted from the project, which will be published later this year. The videos are also published here, as well as a critical essay on the project by writer E.C. Feiss.

 

 

Essay by E. C. Feiss
On Beyond Allegories

Salima Belhaj & Wunderbaum
Plea for a Free Zone

Mariko Peters, Metahaven & Jonas Staal
Towards an Extra-Parliamentary Democracy!

Yoonis Osman Nuur & Ahmet Öğüt
Political Representation Beyond Citizenship

Dirk Poot & Foundland
Mapping the Deep State

Carolien Gehrels & Hans van Houwelingen
The Creative City: A Blessing for Administration but a Curse for the Arts 

Ron Meyer en Matthijs de Bruijne
De Democratisering van de Kunst

Ron Meyer & Matthijs de Bruijne
Democratising the Arts

 


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Revolution at Point Zero. Discussing the Commons with Silvia Federici and Tine De Moor

Last year, New York-based activist and philosopher Silvia Federici lead two days of lectures on the commons from 31 January–1 February, organised by Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory in Utrecht, centred around the ideas raised in her book Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle (2012). In introducing Federici and announcing “Composing the Commons” as a motto guiding the coming years’ program at Casco, Casco director Binna Choi mentioned that Federici’s presentation was part of the living research project initiated in 2009 titled the Grand Domestic Revolution (GDR). Choi detailed how GDR explores communal ways of working and living involving a wide a range of activities inspired by nineteenth-century Materialist Feminism, a movement that organised cooperative domestic work. Various types of collectives or groups have been engaged in the development of GDR since, she continued, creating a network of collaborations spread throughout different countries. Where the domestic space is conceived of as a “ground zero” for starting change that can apply to a broader social realm and social systems, the commons is at the core of this change.

In addition to Federici, on the first day of lectures at Casco contributors included Tine De Moor, an outspoken voice in the Dutch discourse around the commons and director of Institutions of Collective Action and professor at Utrecht University, and initial respondents Dutch artists coalition Platform Beeldende Kunst and artist Elke Uitentuis from Artists Occupy Amsterdam. Eluding strict definitions, the commons were then discussed in presentations by Federici and De Moor and subsequent Q&A sessions with the audience. De Moor pinpointed the way in which self-organised groups or so-called private-public partnerships are often market-driven, concluding that commons are not a weapon against privatisation but an alternative which should operate in parallel. Federici’s position, on the other hand, gravitated towards how the commons—or the practice of commoning—can be a transformative form of reproduction, leading into a discussion wherein the notion of building a commons intrinsically means building a collective subject with the desire to reclaim resources.

Here follows a condensed and edited report of the conversations on 31 January and 1 February.

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Commonist Aesthetics
and more to come

Open! has been online for 5 months now, publishing columns, essays, book reviews and artists’ contributions on topics that it has been involved with since 2004, back when Open was still an actual printed publication – see Back Issues. Now an online publishing platform, Open! has been busy exploring the changing conditions of the public domain and the notion of publicness from a variety of international and interdisciplinary perspectives as well as examining the consequences that the recent privatisation, mediatisation and globalisation processes have on our social and artistic practices.

For its launch in September 2013, Open! invited a variety of theorists and artists to submit short texts on pressing topics that focus on the subject of art and the public domain. These contributions were published between September 2013 and January 2014 and can be found in the Column section on the homepage. They address a broad range of artistic, social and political issues that are relevant to Open! and its readership. We also published a number of unique essays, including a lively discussion between Camiel van Winkel and Steven ten Thije on the subject of contemporary art discourse.

In the mean time, Open! appointed author and editor Janine Armin to work on the book review section to make it a more solid and prominent part of the Open! site. The results of these changes will become evident in the near future.

Although we want to maintain the freedom to publish individual essays of interest, we are going to begin focussing more on the structural elaboration of a few specific themes: beginning with Commonist Aesthetics, which will be followed by Regimes of Illegality and New Forms of Political and Social Mobilisation. The theme of Commonist Aesthetics is a collaboration between Open!, art historian and critic Sven Lütticken – who is also a member of our editorial board – and the Utrecht-based Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory (www.cascoprojects.org). Both Open! and Casco are very involved in the issue of commons and related re-evaluations of the notion of ownership and power relations. Last year, Casco organised Revolution at Point Zero, a two-day symposium that attempted to define the commons in the fields of art and social work. Scholar and activist Silvia Federici and Tine de Moor (Professor of Institutions for Collective Action in Historical Perspective at Utrecht University) were the distinguished speakers at the symposium.

Commonist Aesthetics allows us to introduce “the idea of commonism” – not communism – a topic that various writers and artists will explore and expand upon in the coming months. In his short introduction, Lütticken describes commonism as a constellation of practices and lines of thought that generates productive tension. Commonist aesthetics are related to the world of the senses or a “residually common world”.

The texts we plan to publish will cover the notion of commonist aesthetics in various ways. We will commence this new theme with essays by Jodi Dean and artist duo Klaas van Gorkum & Iratxe Jaio, which will later be followed by an extensive report of Revolution at Point Zero symposium, in which Silvia Federici and Tine de Moor will both have their say, and with contributions by Marina Vishmidt and Kerstin Stakemeier, among others.

March 2014

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