art as commons: collective collage and poetry making 07.12.14

Art as commons is an experiment that aims to make use of art as a shared resource, against the control of the State and the enclosure of the art market and the “art world”. As New Cross commoners for more than a year we have been using texts to learn how to organize different forms of commoning in our life. With art as commons we’ll also try to make use of art to explore different ways of sustaining our lives collectively.

This session is facilitated by Rosie. We will be making collaborative collages and poems, recycling the text of old paperback novels and images from magazines. Inspired by ‘The Humument’ by Tom Phillips and the ‘cut ups’, political collage practice of rearranging texts and images, we will explore together the subversive and revolutionary nature of these forms of art!

This session is very much open to those who do not draw or paint or write poetry and who are not professional artists or writers. Art as commons is art beyond its professionalization. How to make of art making a practice that intersects with everyday life? How can it respond to everyday needs and desires?



art as commons: collective drawing at the field 23.11.14 from 2 to 5pm

Art as commons is an experiment that aims to make use of art as a shared resource, against the control of the State and the enclosure of the art market and the “art world”. As New Cross commoners for more than a year we have been using texts to learn how to organize different forms of commoning in our life. With art as commons we’ll also try to make use of art to explore different ways of sustaining our lives collectively.

We will start with a drawing session very much open also to those who do not draw and who are not professional artists. Art as commons is art beyond its professionalization. How to make of drawing a practice that intersects with everyday life? How to bring drawing into the streets? How can drawing respond to everyday needs and desires?

This session will be facilitated by Daniel: “We’ll draw together to discover spaces of co-creation different from those usually set up in artistic education. Western art does not have a strong tradition of non-hierarchical collective image-making. On the bases of projects I have done recently, we will experiment with an exercise that will create an alternative to the usual attachment to authorship, playing with a dialogue between rules and freedom.”


art as commons

artascomART AS COMMONS 2014-2015

With the New Cross commoners we have been reading texts in order to think and rethink the way we organize (people’s kitchen, the Field etc.) and how other people organize bottom up in New Cross (New Cross library etc.). With art as commons the starting point is art instead of theory: we learn from art how to think and rethink what we organize and how to experiment with different forms of commoning.

Art as commons could become a founded course starting in October 2015. It

could be structured as a university course with a beginning and an end and a number of sessions (10?) throughout the year to provide a free alternative to academic courses (see the Free University of Liverpool as an example). It would not be a course for professional artists to improve their working conditions (following Hard and Negri‘s notion of “common” – see also Teatro Valle and similar important experiments) and even less a course to improve your career as an artist (that’s the main aim of an instiotution like Goldsmiths), it is a course for everybody to produce more and different “commoning” and collective reproduction (Federici), in forms inspired by artistic practices and the collective “delirious madness” they can produce (Guattari).

At the moment we meet twice a month to read texts, discuss art and develop a practice of art making, games, exercises that can inform how we operate at the Field, in New Cross, in different instances of our collective life.

At the first meeting we put things on a map structured around 5 key elements of the art as commons, the map could be used to think the connections between the different elements and also to rethink the art as commons. Below there is a transcription of this provisional and incomplete map.

1 art as a tool of (micro)political transformation – art has to do with forms of life and with the possibility of reshaping them (Guattari, Foucault)

William Morris, Courbet (art and anarchism), Kirchner and Die Brucke (art and life), Mexican Muralism, Fluxus and Beuys, Born in Flames, Jean Rouch, Folk Archive.

Psychogeographical practice of Debord and the Situationists, Patrick Keiller’s The Robinson Institute, the Artist Placement Group, Wodiczko’s Critical Vehicles, Mierle Laderman Ukele’s, Martha Rosler; Park Fiction, and and and, Radio Alice.


Guattari: not easy to chose a text, he is difficult to read, we could read an interview. Here a useful text on Guattari and mapping, it situates art into a wider context and provides a good intro to Guattari:

Foucault: a late interview or a text on the art of life / care of the self (is there a collective dimension there?).

2 commoning, collectivization of reproduction and subsistence (Silvia Federici and friends)

people’s kitchen, make together dishes at ceramic co-op, exchange art for goods and services, cheese city (imagining places as swiss, feta, chevre…), a skipped food cafe once a month, starting a house in co-op, making batik textiles and selling them outside the Field, experiment with crisp fermentation, time banking, public cats, free shop experiment, distributing house and garden plants, chicken co-op, spirit mapping as a public safety project / public inventory,

Silvia Federici: the text on the nxc website? The are also good videos.

Massimo de Angelis: the interview on the nxc website

3 transversality: encounters between different people produce social transformation (many different small fishes getting together eat the big one) tools and methods for transversality – theatre of the oppressed, games, art making, rituals (Freire and Boal and Starhawk)

cooking at barnes wallis community centre, a campaign suggesting new cross is built on a hallucinogenic geological formation, house swapping, a choir, day swapping, newspaper theatre, skills as art e.g. bicycle powered cinema, rainbow of desire, a long common breath, inviting street neighbours to have dinner, movement therapy and other non-therapy exercises, art / nature / shamans / healing, using art to understand existing power structures (e.g. ways of seeing), ninja tarmac, performance art to translate local news, spiral dance, jams music healing getting together spirit, collective drawing rules and freedom, public banners at New Cross, making mosaics for the front of the garden, vj, mud painting at Surrey Canal.


Freire. We could read again the section on Participatory Action Research in the text on militant investigation. We could also read material from the People’s Political Economy website. We could read Ultra-red on Freire and militant investigation.

Boal – something from Games for Actors and Non-Actors?

Starhawk: something from the Empowerment Manual + some exercises to try, e.g. chapter 5 on learning.

Something on games. Some Bateson and how he has been taken up by conflict mediators and similar professional features.

4 Goldsmiths enclosing knowledge, we use Goldsmiths as a resource that needs to be dis-enclosed and collectivized – to get funding through Goldsmiths.

Locksmith classes, make access at goldsmiths possible by sharing codes and cards, one knowledge transfer session every week from everyone based on a film a text a poem, dj historian, dj sampling.


Free University of Liverpool

Funding applications.

Halberstam’s “Notes on Failure”

5 New Cross and beyond – the people, organizations, inside and outside New Cross, that we could invite and do stuff with

The Field, Ceramic co-op, Assembly, Grow Wild, New Cross Learning, New Cross Poetry Workshop, New Cross Forum / Our New Cross, Harts Lane Studios, Open Book Project at Goldsmiths, Sutton Community Farm, Croydon Music scene, Southwark Mosaics, Visiting international occupations, Southwark Notes, Seeds for Change, People’s Political Economy, Nanopolitics Group, Plan C, London Roots collective, Ultra-red, Radical Education Forum, House of Brag, Brave New Alps, Radical Theory Forum, Free University of Liverpoool, Mayday Rooms, Common House,, Precarious Workers Brigade, Platform and Shake!


documentation about new cross, e.g. on gentrification and recent developments


22.11.14 workshop at the Field 2-4pm: words bodies and bodies for and against bodies and words for words and bodies

words bodies and bodies for and against bodies and words for words and bodies
a workshop performed between bodies, texts, movements.

What is the relationship between bodies and community and ideas as words and theory?
How does this play out in social space?

What is the common landscape of being, of my and your body, of our bodies?
How does this intersect with the world of experienced language in writing?
How does all this play out on the common world of shared space?

Come ready to move and read and interact.
A guided “performance” workshop.

The idea is to generate more questions then answers, unless there
are no questions.


bats and gentrification in deptford: a walk 30.09.14

Bat detection is a practice undertaken by ecologists, conservationists and enthusiasts. In it, electronic devices are used to detect the ultrasound bats use to echolocate. The simplest to use of these – the heterodyne – mixes down ultrasound to make it audible to human hearing. This form of detector is favoured by hobbyists and beginners as it provides what is closest to sensory experience of a hidden layer of more-than-human activity, present in the city as well as rural areas.

The proposal is to go on a short bat walk in New Cross/Deptford, and attempt to find some bats using these devices. This will allow us to explore just one way simple electronics can bring to life different activity in the city. More than this though – it might also provide another angle with which to view the economic and social processes that are transforming it. The behaviour of bats appropriation of crevices, roofs and other spaces by bats could be viewed as having resonances with other practices of occupation and co-option. Bats are recurring figures in narratives about urban development and building work, particular in the local media. As a protected species, the presence of bats can complicate and delay construction work, and the question of whether bats use a certain property can be a key dispute between developers and local people. In turn, this protection – in practice intermittent and inconsistent – raises questions regarding the relationship between vulnerability and value, and the forces acting on them both.

We’ll meet outside the Dog and Bell pub on Prince Street in Deptford at 7pm, Tues 30th Sept and go from there on a short walk using the bat detectors to explore the green and built spaces surrounding it. Most probably the walk will end in a pub or other warm space to give us a chance to talk further about our experiences and the thoughts they might prompt. If it is raining heavily, we may cutrail the walk early and go to the pub for discussion – we might be willing to endure the rain, but the bats most likely will stay home!

Suggested reading:
Mason and Hope 2014 ‘Echoes in the Dark: Technological Encounters with Bats’ Journal of Rural Studies 33 (107-118)
Bird Rose 2012 ‘Cosmopolitics: The Kiss of Life’ New Formations No. 76

Further texts and links:
Bat Conservation Trust website –
BCT on bat detectors:
London Bat Group –
Natalie Jerimjenko – Bat Billboard –
August – PhD thesis on ‘The Social Structure, Ecology and Pathogens of Bats in the UK’
Coetzee – The Lives of Animals
Diamond ‘The Difficulty of Reality and the Difficulty of Philosophy’ in Diamond, Cavell, Wolfe et al. The Philosophy of Animal Life.unnamed


The Field

Hi people, friends and commoners, we won’t post much on this home page in the next months, we are all busy at the Field, 365 Queens Road, come down and join us to think and make together the Filed a place of commoning!

We will still carry on with the nxc monthly reading and possibly document them in the toolbox page. After the last one on the Exodus collective the next will be on Park Fiction and Isola Art Centre.



The New Cross Commoners and The Field

The new cross commoners is an experiment in commoning which started at the beginning of 2013 and soon got intertwined with the life of the Field. We started with the nxc by exploring the neighbourhood to understand how people organize themselves from below – commoning around housing, knowledge, food, care (at the New Cross Library, Sanford Housing Co-op, New Cross Poetry Workshop…). To learn from, in and with the neighbourhood has been the primary activity of the nxc: the nxc’s commoning has been developed primarily (but not only!) around knowledge, through a desire for learning not just from books but also from experience, of moving away from the academic production of enclosed knowledge, of turning theory into practice and action. In september 2013 we started experimenting with people’s kitchens, bringing together the conviviality of communal eating with discussions about the life of the neighbourhood: we have consolidated a format that has been later used in other contexts in New Cross (e.g. Our New Cross). Throughout all these experiences we also took care of the nxc / ourselves as a forming, changing, open collective, and when the Field became a reality a bunch of people identifying themselves as commoners was ready to be the first component of what is now the group organizing the Field. Since then the nxc has organized monthly meetings, always open to everybody, to carry on exploring the neighbourhood (walks with Neil / Transpontine to Convoy Wharf, with Rene and Ayreen / 16 Beaver, bat walk with Cliff Hammett) and read about other experiences to learn how to rethink and reshape the / our life in the neighbourhood (e.g. on militant research, ollas comunes, exodus collective, gentrification in New Cross, park fiction, isola art centre…). What we have been learning with the nxc is documented in the “toolbox” section of the website. Much of it has accompanied people in thinking and shaping the organization of the Field. The nxc will continue accompanying the Field as a kind of wandering free school open to everybody and to everybody’s contribution – if you like to propose a walk, an exploration, a workshop, a reading that could help people change for the better the life in the New Cross, get in touch: