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



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