Glossary of Common Knowledge
Beyond the conventional usage of the language in contemporary art
A list of terms associated with six referential fields, as proposed by a number of narrators in the course of several seminars, to negotiate various positions, contexts and local narratives about contemporary art referential fields. The aim of proposing six referential fields (historicization, subjectivization, geopolitics, constituencies, commons, and other-institutionality) is to meet the need for discussions that can address various localities and temporalities. Contemporary art contains a variety of social, historical, cultural and political references that exist as referential fields outside the focal ideas, concepts, and artworks themselves. These references also condition the form and practice of artistic production.
In the last decade, we have stuck to the notion of the ‘commons’ as the only exit from the cul de sac of capitalism and the fates of austerity and scarcity reserved for those excluded from the increasingly narrow circles of accumulation. For the ‘commons’ to be more than a mere discursive illusion, different forms of disrupting the cycle of expropriation and of producing commonwealth must be shared and disseminated.
The commons are manifested in various ways that encourage, celebrate and protect the right to diversity. They are signified by a decentralized structure, which moves away from ‘traditional’ methods of making artistic statements, protests, or social critiques in the globalized world. The artistic groups working with the idea of the commons look more like an elaborate network. In part, this web-like structure is the result of internet-based organizing, but it is also a response to political realities that sparked the idea of the commons in the first place.
As our communal spaces (squares, parks, streets, and schools) are increasingly occupied by the global marketplace, a spirit of radical reclaiming of the commons and resistance toward a noncritical representation of the world as a global village is taking place. Artists are disrupting, remodeling, repurposing, and hacking networking tools in order to attack the existing apparatuses provided by various corporate regimes. Their critiques propose more transparent modes of sociopolitical conduct, with active and conscious use of technology to unveil the current liberal views of the free market and culture as structures which trap culture within capitalist relations.