Commons Art

According to Tejerina, “Collaborative collective action (ACC) is the set of formal and informal practices and interactions carried out between a plurality of individuals, groups or associations that share among themselves a sense of belonging or common interests, on the basis of collaboration and conflict with others, with the aim of producing or slowing down social change through the mobilization of certain social sectors” (Tejerina 2010). In the history of humanity there are several collaborative practices and actions based on sharing that generate deep social bonds: potlatch, reciprocal altruism, cooperatives, mutualism, among others. They are practices based on generosity and collaboration, rather than competition. These historical links, which were also present in pre-modern art, were broken by modernity and the expansion of capitalism and globalization. As a result, art also suffered from this rupture of links with society, transforming itself into an art whose end, in general, is situated in itself and in the market. However, despite the fact that art has distanced itself from society, some forms of this type of practice still exist and have been increasing in recent years. There are countless examples of collaborative artistic action throughout the history of art.

Orsi proposed the concepts such as ‘economy of sharing’, ‘politics of sharing’ and ‘practices of sharing’ and of truly collaborative economy. Orsi developed 6 dimensions of sharing: (1) share wealth and prosperity; (2) share power and decision-making; (3) share capitalization and risk; (4) share resources and efforts; (5) share knowledge and information; and (6) share responsibility for the common good. In this analysis, the conglomerate of concepts proposed by Orsi is expanded with the dimension ‘collaboration proposed by the concept of Collaborative Collective Action (CCA).

The hypothesis is that the concept of Collaborative Collective Action (CCA) amplifies Orsi’s concepts by posing that collaborating is more than sharing, and therefore collaboration in art is more than sharing art. Collaboration involves actively enrolling society, groups or individuals in all phases of a process so that the ultimate goal to be achieved is the development of a sense of belonging, a recovery of social bonds between equals, through a conscious commitment to the commons and society.

Art thus understood would aim to contribute to restore the link between subject and community lost with modernity from its specific creative processes, considering the public as a community of equals, committed to the process of creation; a kind of pro-common art. It can emerge through collective practices generated from individual artists and artist collectives that focus on the relationship and the creation of bonds with people and not on the creation of objects for the market.

When art is understood as collaborative collective action towards the commons, there are impacts in relation to various dimensions of the art system. One of the best-known effects is the challenge it poses to the concept of authorship and its proposal for a paradigm shift that impacts the identity of the artist and the links of the artist and the work with society. In relation to the identity of the contemporary artist, art understood in this way questions the closed identity of the contemporary artist based on the concept of subject autonomy and production autonomy. It also destabilizes the relationship of the work with the art system, the type of works created, how they are distributed, the role of the community and the role of the public, among other aspects.

This type of practice substitutes the abstract public for the local community as well as through global networks facilitated by technology. It transforms the internal springs of the processes and methodologies of creation, production, distribution, transfer of knowledge and reproduction of art through the incorporation of people in different phases and in different ways. Co-creation, co-production, remix, reuse, hacking and copy-left processes arise, among others, that question the role of the author. Art based on the pro-common is an example of a complex and transversal collaborative collective action that opens up to the integration of society in the artistic process.

The objective of this case is to analyse the characteristics of collaborative and pro-common based art and its impact on various dimensions of the art system. The analysis will be done through the study of 2 cases: some specific projects of Ideatomics and Fair Saturday. Both cases are interesting to see the differences in the nature of the collective collaborative artistic actions they represent.

The methodology used is mixed. It is based on a review of various theories of collective action applying them to art. Among these theories are (1) the theory of collective behaviour (LeBon; Blumer; Kornhauser; Smelser) to rescue emotions in the analysis of collaborative collective artistic action; (2) relative deprivation (Davies; Gurr; Morrison) to know how this type of artistic action brings art closer to society; (3) rational option (Olson; Lichbach; Chong; Opp) to understand why people collaborate with artists; (4) resource mobilization (MacCarthy and Zald) to analyze how resources are obtained and mobilized for collaborative artistic action; and (5) framing theory (Benford; Snow; Diani) to analyze how collaborative artistic action resonates with the art system, public, elites, and institutional and private agents (galleries, museums, art critics, collectors, and peers); (6) impact theory and (7) concepts of interaction and strategic participation (Jasper, Emirbayer; Cefaï) to understand collaborative artistic collective action from a cultural, emotional, and agency perspective.

On the other hand, qualitative research will also be carried out through in-depth interviews, focus groups and participant observation, digital ethnography, as well as the collection of direct data structured from a selection of indicators and axes of analysis. Secondary data are also analysed (collected on web pages, statements at public events, pre-existing online interviews and material collected on social networks).

Researcher: Cristina Miranda de Almeida.