October 2, 2019 - Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons - "Our House is on Fire"
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October 2, 2019

Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons

"Our House is on Fire" banner by Babi Badalov at the Climate Strike in The Hague, September 27, 2019. Photo: Nina Pantelakis.

"Our House is on Fire"
Assembly for Commoning Art Institutions
October 25–26, 2019, 10am

Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons
Lange Nieuwstraat 7
3512 PA Utrecht
The Netherlands

casco.art
Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

"Our House is on Fire"
Assembly for Commoning Art Institutions
October 25–26, 2019, 10am

Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons
Lange Nieuwstraat 7
3512 PA Utrecht
The Netherlands

casco.art
Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

What practical measures will art and art institutions take to care for our planetary commons with the power of imagination?

A global climate strike has kicked off. Yet the urgent assertion that “our house is on fire” is complicated. It comes with a sense of not knowing how to affect structural change. Behind the language of “crisis,” “urgency,” and emergency” are corporations who see an opportunity for new markets, pushing for technological innovation as an all encompassing solution. Let’s be clear about it: the climate crisis is part of the same logic that feminists and anti-colonial scholars have long since understood as “CPC”—colonialism, patriarchy, capitalism—a system thriving on the exploitation of labor, precarity of life, and inequality. Indigenous communities and farmers around the world, whose lands have been stolen and destroyed, have struggled with this crisis for centuries. Faced with this situation, the burning question is how can we act as individuals or collectively, as artists and art institutions? This question is especially relevant to those of us who come from the industrialized nations that contribute most to the crisis, while the disaster is felt most acutely by the poorest and most vulnerable communities. 

The second Assembly for commoning art institutions seeks to establish concrete ways for art and art institutions to act and respond to climate change, and aligns itself with the climate justice movement. We propose to work together to deal with this struggle systematically by incorporating it into the daily operations of artists and art institutions. We will formulate a collective proposal for local and national governmental policy with a focus on cultural institutions. Let us use our imaginations to draft and issue a climate justice code or guidelines for arts organizations. We will also consider other codes already implemented in the Netherlands such as the Fair Practice Code, the Cultural Diversity Code, and the Cultural Governance Code, which are all closely interconnected. 

Over two days we will hear from practitioners from diverse backgrounds (activists, artists, lobbyists, and more) whose words will inform the climate justice code, a code that all Assembly participants will then shape in live editing sessions, break-out groups, and as a plenary. Like last year’s edition, the Assembly will close with a collective pot experiment made up of financial and non-financial contributions. For the latter form of contribution, Assembly contributors and participants are asked to bring artworks, objects, literature, poems, or anything else to inform the code.

The popular myth of “the tragedy of the commons” is based on a misunderstanding and can rather be understood in terms of “the tragedy of unmanaged commons” or even “the tragedy of free markets.” This tragedy as we see it applies to the mismanagement or non-management of what we call the planetary commons. The commons, defined simply as shared resources managed by a self-organizing community, are conditioned by the ethics of caring and sharing sustainability. By assembling art and art institutions, we as the contributors and participants are exercising a much needed practice for the planetary commons.

The second annual Assembly for commoning art institutions at Casco Art Institute is an invitation to all of you who share the question to pool resources—art, love, knowledge, money, time—and come together to co-create what we could do from our office, galleries, and (post-) studios.

Seats are limited so we encourage you to RSVP by Friday, October 11 via assembly [​at​] casco.art. Please use the subject line RSVP Our House is on Fire

Our House is on Fire builds on the 2018 inaugural Assembly edition, Elephants in the Room, which focused on methods of unlearning, especially for the redistribution of power. Read more about it, about the collective pot, and our thus far collected common resources, here

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