Talking the commons …
Monday 24th – Friday 28th August, 13.00 – 14.00
Where: Roseangle Commons, Dundee West Church, Lower Hall, 132 Perth Road, DD1 4JW – enter via Roseangle Arts Cafe
No need to book. Feel free to arrive early and listen to Emil’s Back Stories Songbook
A Commons Lunch is also available from 12.30
Monday 24th August
Land as Commons – how half of Scotland was privatised – Andy Wightman
The history of land in Scotland is a history of appropriation, privatisation and feudalism. The ownership and use of land continues to be contested across urban, rural and marine Scotland. Who should own the land? How should it be governed? How should decisions about its use be made? How should it be taxed? Land provides the fundamentals of our existence as individuals and communities. It provides places to live, to grow food, to derive important natural resources, to play, and to sustain all life. Conflict and disagreement over land is at the root of many international disputes.
In this session, we will explore the nature of land, how it’s governed and its future with reference to ideas around the commons. How can thinking of land as a common resource help answer the many questions that need to be answered? Does the ancient legal notion of common good help or the historic role of commons in Scotland? What role do contemporary moves to increase community ownership play? Scotland is beginning to open up these questions. This session is where you’ll learn more about the process and what lies behind it.
See Andy’s blog.
Tuesday 25th August
Food as Commons: creating a restorative food culture – Mike Small
Our commodified food system makes us ill and despoils the planet. We are overfed and undernourished, but in a socio-ecological crisis new paths emerge towards environmental justice. In a preview of his book Food, Land, Power Mike Small will examine the pathways to a food system reclaimed and restored for a sustainable future.
See Mike’s wikipedia page.
Wednesday 26th August
People as Commons – Lesley Riddoch
When the natural assets of Scotland are considered, oil, gas, hydro, wind, and wave tend to come much higher than any country’s chief resource – its people. Some assume Scots are somehow less able to govern themselves than our Nordic neighbours – at national and importantly at local level. The truth is quite the opposite. Across the country pioneering Scots have thrown themselves into the hugely unequal task of fixing their communities DESPITE the structures of society and usually unaided by any political party. It has cost some people their jobs, their relationships, their health – and even their lives. Folk who live in more genuinely democratic countries don’t have to try that hard – the rules already favour governance by and in the interests of the many, not the few. Key in all of this is the largeness and remoteness of our local authorities and the scarcity and high price of land – set to be highlighted throughout August by the Our Land campaign.
See Lesley’s website.
Thursday 27th August
Digital Commons: An inspiration for new forms of sharing and collaboration in the arts – Cornelia Sollfrank
In recent years the concept of the commons has won broad appeal. One of the reasons for reviving this alternative economic model in manifold social contexts was its success in the realm of digital culture. Free software and collaborative platforms such as Wikipedia have shown its contemporaneity as well as sustainability, and inspired experimentation with various new forms of sharing and collaboration.
In her talk, Cornelia will discuss the influence of the commons on artistic strategies. Her extensive research on intellectual property and copyright-related issues has yielded the question of what artists can contribute to free culture. Assuming that commoning is something more radical than an esoteric notion of ‘belonging to a community’ or putting a free license on proprietary content, Cornelia will instigate a discussion about core principles of the commons. In a next step, she will look at the difficulty of relating such values to the concept of art and suggest a number of questions for a more in-depth investigation.
The theoretical discussion about the commons will be accompanied by findings of topical research into practice. Under the title ‘Giving What You Don’t Have’ (GWYDH) Cornelia has identified and mapped various art projects whose aim is to contribute to the production and preservation of the commons. In a series of interviews, the artists introduce their projects and talk about their motivation. Reoccurring issues are property relations and the quality of social relations with regards to the resources, forms of organisation artists suggest, the values the projects represent, what external economies the projects depend on, and, last but not least, what inherent conception of art they express.
See Cornelia’s website.
Friday 28th August
Art as Commons: cultural policy and practice as enclosure? – Gesa Helms and Leigh French (members of Variant Editorial Group)
Over the past year, we conducted a study into forms and practices of communication principally as they relate to artist-run activities in Scotland. We are interested in how communication refers to a wide array of how we, alongside other social agents, engage in communicative and expressive cultural practices – such as the public construction & circulation of symbolic material, as in the arts.
But, importantly, we’re interested in how these processes are also shaped by the active governance of culture in Scotland – processes which take place through the institutional organisation of spaces of representation, such as those demarcated and mediated by Creative Scotland.
How does this relationship between communication and representation serve to shape ‘how experiences can be made sense of’ and what kind of positions can be taken and voiced?
How does this relationship open up or foreclose democratic possibilities for the expression of tastes, interests and subjectivities through spaces of public deliberation (e.g. in forums, debates, projects, initiatives, conversations,…)?
This project is an attempt at a concise correlation between politics and aesthetics. To precisely get at the relations which mark out communication as political – in how what is visible and invisible, sayable and unsayable, audible and inaudible connects with how we come to conceptualise our ways of doing and making the world.
In this talk we would like to introduce some of these issues for a wider conversation in the context of how the arts articulate as a commons and the means that animate this articulation (e.g. as organisational and communicative form and practice).
See Variant’s website.