8 & 9 March 2022 – ARIA seminar Inclusion Dismantled: How to Practice Commoning Art?

(c) Wannes Cré

Inclusion is an often-heard term in – but also outside – the cultural sector today. Finding ways to reach a more diverse audience has been a hot topic for a while now, at least in the Netherlands and Flanders. Yet more often than not, this ‘diverse’ audience has been mostly invited to join and participate in a culture that is created by consensus of only a dominant part of the cultural field. ‘Inclusion’ in this way is primarily regarded as a means of gathering a heterogenic assemblage of people and perspectives to fold unilaterally into a dominant culture, rather than finding new ways of embracing the richness of diversity by building something new altogether.

Yet, as research has pointed out, art has the power to bridge, connect, and emancipate multiple groups and viewpoints. Art is a medium par excellence to build but also disrupt consensus. On the other hand, research has also showed the opposite can be true. Art can divide, exclude, and be only accessible for the few. In the latter, art is used to propagate and frame certain viewpoints and meanings while suppressing others. In both cases, inclusion and exclusion seem to be two sides of the same coin. That begs the question how to create art practices that problematize this relationship. How can art steer towards bridging between different cultural forms of expression and meaning, instead of being a bonding vehicle for separate cultures, which in the end can lead to more polarization and exclusion?

In this two-day workshop we will explore from various perspectives and theoretical angles the question of how to practice what we call ‘commoning art’: from the perspective of the maker, the researcher, the audience and from theoretical notions such as consensus/dissensus, internal and external social cohesion, agonistic democracy and commoning. In this seminar, participants are invited to think, do and experience together. Therefor we invited artists and researchers from a wide range of disciplines: choreographer Amparo Gonzales Sola, visual artist Barry Ahmid Talib, scenographer Jozef Wouters, cultural sociologist Pascal Gielen, performance artist Ahilan Ratnamohan, city poet Seckou Ouologuem and theater maker Sara Vertongen. The seminar will be moderated by Jan Jaap Knol, director of Boekman Foundation, institute for arts, culture and related policy in the Netherlands. During the two days, artist Karina Beumer will capture the event with drawings. 

We warmly welcome makers, researchers and students to participate.

For the program and registration, please go to https://www.uantwerpen.be/nl/onderzoeksgroep/aria/activiteiten/onderzoeksseminaries/inclusion-dismantled/