Co-commissioning initiative on climate change

Co-commissioning initiative on climate change


October 18, 2022
Co-commissioning initiative on climate change
October 17, 2022–December 31, 2023

Dubai-based Alserkal Advisory announces “A Feral Commons”, a new, co-commissioning arts project uniting cultural districts from the Global Cultural Districts Network (GCDN) across four continents, each one presenting a public art installation in response to the theme of climate change.

The first cycle of the co-commission series will present multi-city public art interventions that will be unveiled in Fall 2023, including: Alserkal Avenue, (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)  a pioneering arts and culture district in the UAE that is home to more than 70 creative businesses, including the region’s most renowned contemporary art galleries, design houses, and an arthouse cinema; Kingston Creative (Kingston, Jamaica), an arts district and hub for creative entrepreneurs that aims to revitalise Downtown Kingston’s cultural identity through multiple monthly programmes and a major mural project; the Onassis Stegi (Athens, Greece), a multidisciplinary cultural centre that hosts theatrical and musical productions, film screenings, art and digital shows, and which is part of an ecosystem of enterprises and initiatives that include the Cavafy Archive as well as a robust scholarship programme; and Victoria Yards (Johannesburg, South Africa), a uniquely integrated urban complex that has fostered an ecosystem that is as much about community and social development as it is commercial enterprise.

The intent of the co-commission project is to harness the power of networked cultural districts to respond collectively to urgent global subjects, and invite participants to renew their current perspectives and learnings. This first cycle (2022-23) will explore how cultural districts can engage in knowledge-sharing and collective action. More specifically, “A Feral Commons” will explore how artists in these locations can rise to new challenges and rethink modes of working, create new models of the commons and new ways of living. Each project will stand alone as a site-specific exhibition and will be accompanied by a programme that engages with local communities to further explore the theme and questions. The inaugural initiative from Alserkal Advisory is developed in collaboration with GCDN, an international membership-based network that fosters cooperation and knowledge-sharing between organisations responsible for a cultural district and clusters at the intersection of creative and cultural activity, urbanism, and community engagement. 

Supported by UAP, “A Feral Commons” will self-audit the environmental impact of the project, attempting to create the public artworks across all four continents in the most responsible and conscious method possible. Utilising UAP’s proprietary tools, specifically Artwork Ingredient List and Public Art 360, these tools will guide the project team on sustainable practices as well as measure the quantitative and qualitative impact on the environment, and the value of public art.

Alserkal Advisory has appointed Tairone Bastien as curator of the first cycle. Bastien, who co-curated the first two editions of the Toronto Biennial of Art, developed the theme alongside the participating districts. Under the title A Feral Commons, the curatorial theme proposes an alternative vision of the commons, which is usually defined as land or resources shared by all people within a community. Instead, this project invites artists to illuminate human and non-human entanglements and explore a more radical understanding of what the commons could mean in a multi-species world. The theme draws upon visionary American anthropologist Anna Tsing’s scholarship and writing on open-ended inter-species gatherings and non-human participants in human projects that are described as feral because they participate independently, resisting human control.

In the coming months, Bastien will work with the co-commissioners within each cultural district to study, shortlist and finalise artist proposals. The responding public artworks will be specific to each district’s context and locality, exploring critical issues related to the curatorial theme within different geographical environments.

The full list of participating artists will be announced in early 2023.

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October 18, 2022

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