Made in Commons at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau. Practicing art in communal life

We are living in a moment where, in order to define the distances, we do not mention kilometers any more, but flight hours. The perception of space and time is changing quickly, so institutions feel the necessity to re-define their roles and to understand which is their value today. These are urgencies that contemporary art organizations are trying to address more and more.

With the idea of sharing resources and a critical discourse in mind, The Stedelijk Museum Bureau and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam initiated Global Collaboration, a research project that aims to give an overview of the developments in contemporary art from a global perspective. The project involves several art organizations in Africa, Middle East and Southeast Asia, and Made in Commons is the collaborative project, which inaugurated a three-year program.

Vincent Vulsma, Made in Commons

Vincent Vulsma, 7 Nights, Made in Commons, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam.

The exhibition is the result of the cooperation between SMBA in Amsterdam and KUNCI Cultural Studies Center in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Together with the exhibition, live projects and initiatives took place both in the space and in the public realm, such as reading groups, conferences and performances. Ten artists and/or art collectives were asked to reflect upon the notion of ‘commons’ intended as the distribution of common resources and collective actions. Although the artworks presented in the exhibition are very different between each other, it could be perceived a leitmotiv connecting one to another. A part from the main theme – which tries to analyse the complicated transnational relationship between The Netherlands and Indonesia – a reaction against the mainstream market paradigm was emerging.

What if we would share our resources with the community we leave in? What if we would try to use our natural resources for our tangible benefit? What if we would produce a real collective artwork, which cannot be sold because it belongs to everyone?

These are some of the questions arose within the exhibition.

Maja Bekan, Made in Commons

Maja Bekan, Made in Commons, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam

The meaning of ‘Authorship’, the notion of ‘Spectatorship’ and the role of the public are the main aspects highlighted in many of the works presented in the show.

Critic Stephen Wright explains that ‘the authorship is facing a challenge from contributive usership. As users contribute content, knowledge, know-how and value, the question as to how they be acknowledged becomes pressing. With the rise of collectively organised art-sustaining environments, single-signature authorship tends to lose its purchase – like possessive individualism in reverse.’ This is what we see in the works by Wok of the Rock, Papermoon Pupper Theatre and Vincent Vulsma where the public has a central role in defining their practice. The viewer is asked to become a co-author in order to activate the work and to question its value.

For Jatawangi Art Factory, Maya Bekan and Read-In the concept of authorship has again a central function, but here is more related to the distinction between the public and private dimension of life. The work of the artists is associated to the use of the language in the process towards the realization of a discourse. The use of spoken language is central in Zhana Ivanova’s video, where the discussion between the two protagonists, tends to construct a community using consensus.

Jatiwangi Art Factory, Made in Commons

Jatawangi Art Factory, Made in Commons, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam

Dušan Rodič focuses on sustainability and shared resources; he installed several solar panels on the roof of the SMBA able to supply energy for the space. Finally Tita Salina & Irwan Ahmett and Maryanto investigated the relationship between The Netherlands and Indonesia towards performances mainly taking place in the public space. What is important for them is the idea of the past as a common resources that people decide to share or not, to understand the present time and imagine a future.

Made in Commons at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam from November 30th to January 26th, 2014.

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  1. September 27, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    […] This article was taken from Droste Effect Magazine, […]

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by Alessandra Saviotti
in Focus on Europe

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