August 26, 2013 - Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons - Composing the Commons, onward
August 26, 2013

Composing the Commons, onward

Casco office design sketch by Nils Norman, 2013.

Composing the Commons: A guideline for the program 2013–2015

Office for Art, Design and Theory
Nieuwekade 213-215, 3511RW, Utrecht

Voorstraat 88, 3512AT, Utrecht
The Netherlands

T/F +31 (0) 30 231 9995
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“Again, the general idea of building a Commons is building a collective subject; building a common interest, and first and foremost, undermining the ways in which we’ve been divided. So, it’s not creating new rules of exclusion but finding ways in which we can begin to tear down the fences, not only the material fences but also the social fences.”
–Silvia Federici, from Revolution at Point Zero, a debate with Silvia Federici and Tine de Moor at Casco, Utrecht, on 31 January 2013

Federici’s insight is integral to our “living research” project The Grand Domestic Revolution, ongoing since October 2009, and continuing in Utrecht, London, and Derry, and soon in Ljubljana, Stockholm, and more. While working on this project, we recognized that our activity is oriented toward building the commons—not only material commons but also knowledge commons, aesthetic commons, affective commons, and so on—and thereby contributes to understanding the commons-building process and the culture that corresponds with such activity. In looking closely at our methods of building (or rather, anti-methods which we take to mean methods that shift), we have redefined this entire process as compositional. The compositional process here is to be understood in contrast to one that combines, unites, or hammers; it instead involves acts that “repair, take care, assemble, reassemble, stitch together” (as in philosopher Bruno Latour’s friendly terminology). Certainly the practice of this process is much indebted to and learns from the artistic and social practices across history and different time zones that have struggled with states of heterogeneity through various forms and exercises. 

Hence, we are happy to announce that we take “Composing the Commons” as a guideline for our program, and our artistic and social vision, from now onward. What is to come will be announced as it matures. For now, we invite you to anticipate our program by sharing some of what is forthcoming:

First, a different mode of spatialization for our program: our current space—or “office”—is being transformed in collaboration with artist Nils Norman. In place and in memory of our former grid structure by architects ifau and Jesko Fezer, which encouraged an exploration of the potential value in conflict and negotiation, the new set-up allows for a reworking of institutional behavior. It strengthens aspects of “co-habitation” and accommodates growing social needs for smaller and bigger gatherings, work space, library consulting, cooking, and resting. Nevertheless, in this environment ever-changing aesthetic demands also have to be met. As such, the space is a “house of the commons.” And please note that we anticipate a move to a more spacious and central location in the beginning of next year.  

So come by, and soon!

In addition, at our recently opened storefront, which functions as a headquarters for a new artistic research project, (Un)usual Business, artist Christian Nyampeta unfolds his long-term research project How to Live Together. Since the beginning of this year, as our Artist at Work, Christian has been relating to various communities in and around Utrecht, including STIL, Ubuntu Huis, and Stichting LOS, each of which provide “shelters,” as well as Werfzeep, van de Streek, and de Veldkeuken, that, on a smaller scale, produce soap, beer, and organic food—and all of this in addition to Christian’s collaborations with the artists’ community Goleb, Van Eesteren museum, and amateur band de Pasjenten. In dialogue with these groups, Christian develops a set of sculptures, tools, and spatial structures geared toward alternative forms of “exchange” and “hospitality” that simultaneously test out his philosophical inquiry that is applied to ways of living together, especially in post-traumatic conditions and in connection to unresolvable conflicts. A group of young artists from the Dutch Art Institute, MFA program of Artez in Arnhem, will join in this intricately philosophical, social, and practical affair with the fruits of their labor falling under the same title, How to Live Together, comprising nine books, too.

And more to come. Be our guests.

Casco’s activities are financially supported by City Council of Utrecht, Mondriaan Fund, DOEN foundation, EU Culture Programme 2007–2013 and K.F. Hein fonds.


Composing the Commons, onward at Casco
Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons
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