Exhibition
15 October 2022–31 December 2023

A Feral Commons

Alserkal Advisory

15 October 2022–31 December 2023 | Off-Site

Dubai-based Alserkal Advisory has announced ‘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.

Starts 15 October 2022

Ends 31 December 2023

Venue Off-Site

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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), an ecosystem of enterprises and initiatives that include the Onassis Library and Cavafy Archive, as well as a robust scholarship programme and a multidisciplinary cultural centre with an amphitheatre, cinema and exhibition halls; 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 cultural districts to respond collectively to urgent global subjects, and that invites 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, it 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 52 cultural districts and clusters with a significant cultural element. 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 Ingredients 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. Drawing 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 within different geographical environments.

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


Image Credit: Sunset, Fahd Burki