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A Conference on Commoning Cultural Activism, Aesthetics, Organization and Policy.

8, 9 & 10 February 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 isproduced 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: organization, (cultural) activism, policy, 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 culturalsector? 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 grassroot 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?

THE FUTURE OF CULTURE IS COMMON is organized by the Culture Commons Quest Office

(CCQO), an interdisciplinary research team led by prof. Pascal Gielen, that has been working on these questions between 2016 and 2021. During the session, the CCQO team will present some of its research results. In addition, the floor also will be given to other researchers, artists and activists who articulate answers to the above questions in both theory andpractice. 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.

The kick-off meeting will be a roundtable on the CCQO research. To follow, the book launch of Rise of the Common City, a volume that looks at cultural commoning practices in urban environments, which contains contributions by CCQO researchers and affiliated scholars. Day 2 and 3 will be structured with mornings’ keynote lectures on the thematic clusters, followed by open conversations and debates with both presenters. After the lunch break, there will be blocks of parallel workshop sessions, in which we intend to deepen our knowledge of the themes and exchange thoughts and practices.

With confirmed contributions from:

  • Ana Sofía Acosta Alvarado
  • Annelys Devet
  • Arne Herman
  • Bas van Heur
  • Corinna Dengler
  • Dancing Museums
  • De Grond der Dingen
  • Friederike Landau-Donnelly
  • Gerlinde Van Puymbroeck
  • Giuliana Ciancio
  • Hanka Otte
  • Karina Beumer
  • Lara Garcia Diaz
  • Larre collective
  • Louis Volont
  • Maria Francesca De Tullio
  • Oli Mould
  • Rebekka de Wit
  • Roberto Sciarelli
  • Stavros Stavrides
  • Stefan Kaegi
  • The Post Cinema collective
  • Thijs Lijster
  • Verena Lenna
  • Walter van Andel

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