A Conference on Commoning Cultural Activism, Aesthetics, Organization and Policy
1, 2 & 3 June 2022
Lange Sint-Annastraat 7, 2000
The future of culture will be common, or there will be no culture at all.
Culture is always the result of creating, sharing and teaching, remixing, reappropriating, interpretating and critiquing. Even the most ‘autonomous’ artists use forms or languages that were passed over to them. One might also say: culture is a ‘common’, that is, a source of value that is produced and governed by everyone, and that therefore can never be the exclusive property or product of anyone.
In practice, however, the functioning of culture is often regulated either by the market (via cultural and creative industries), or by the state (via government policies, subsidies). By consequence, it is seen and treated as either a private or a public good, which often means that it either needs to be profitable, or that it needs to fulfill some kind of function in the service of the government (e.g. participation).
What would happen if we start considering culture as a common, and what would it entail to treat culture, and cultural production, in this light? What kinds of conditions would need to be in place for culture to thrive as a common?
In this 3-day conference, we want to investigate the many ways in which commons shape culture, and, vice-versa, how culture shape the commons. The conference is structured on the basis of four thematic clusters: ACTIVISM, POLICY, COMMONS ORGANIZATION and AESTHETICS. In keynote lectures, debates, and workshops we will address the following questions:
- How can artists and other cultural professionals organize themselves more independently from governments and markets? Can the framework of the commons help to fight the precarious conditions of the contemporary cultural sector? Does “commoning” entail a different relation of artists to audiences, and to one another?
- What strategies do activists use to struggle for a space between or beyond market and state, and how do they use art and culture to appropriate ground, making it common again?
- How could a governmental policy relate to cultural commoners, and how do topdown and grassroots initiatives be aligned?
- And finally, do cultural commoning practices have different artistic and aesthetic demands and expressions than cultural production from the official (subsidized) institutions or commercialized art?
Combining lectures with debates, workshops and artistic presentations, the conference is aimed at scholars as well as policymakers, activists, artists, cultural professionals and students who want to work with and in (culture) commons.