Talk on 20 Feb: What Do We Have in Common?

This February, curator and director of Casco Art Institute in Utrecht, the Netherlands, Binna Choi will visit Helsinki under Frame Contemporary Art Finland’s visitor programme. In her talk, Binna Choi will introduce the practice of the commons within and beyond art: elaborating on the process of transition within art institutional modus operandi in light of the commons.

The talk is organised by Frame Contemporary Art Finland in collaboration with Publics. This event is part of the network project facilitated by Frame on future institutional forms and values that will properly launched during 2020. The talk and the discussion are held in English and it is open for everyone to participate. Welcome!

“After a several year journey of the programmes at “Casco”, especially including the 2013-2016 artistic research program “Composing the Commons” and an intense practice of collectivity within and beyond the institutional walls, “we” had come to re-launch the institution as Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons. Shifting not only its name but modus operandi from Casco Office for Art, Design and Theory.

The question “What do we have in common?” could sum up many possible definitions of the commons, pointing at self-organized ways of collective resourcing and managing at its core as alternatives to the rampant privatization, dispossession and uncertainty. Then, we at Casco Art Institute propose to take the common further as the (epistemological and ontological) basis for the re-compositions of the world that is undoing all the hierarchal and oppressive binary divisions established by our modernity – from the private and the market to nature and culture; from the productive and the reproductive to life and art. Through these non-binary forms of relating, ‘the commons’ works as a term for making the present and the future at the same time.

As with ecological forms of living, the commons celebrate differences and create abundance in common. We are working on situating art in this complex and broad movement while recognizing and practicing the art of this movement. Certainly it’s not an easy task yet, I am doubtful if there is any other option but the commons. Now the more commoning, the better the commons, certainly for the art worlds, too.”

After the talk Binna Choi will be joined by Helsinki based member of the Global Justice Movement Ruby van der Wekken, for comments and discussion.


What Do We Have in Common? On Art for and of the Commons
A talk by Binna Choi, followed by a discussion with Ruby van der Wekken

Wednesday 20 February 2019
Publics (Sturenkatu 37-41 4b, Helsinki)


Binna Choi

Binna Choi practices the curatorial in an expanded sense, by situating art in relation to practices of social change, and by working on art institutions as exemplary institutional sites. Since 2008, Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons in Utrecht has been Binna’s home base for this curatorial practice. There she has curated a number of long-term, collaborative/cross-disciplinary artistic research projects and programs, such as Grand Domestic Revolution, co-curated with Maiko Tanaka (2010–13), Composing the Commons (2013–16), and Site of Unlearning (Art Organizations), with Annette Krauss and the Casco team (2014–18). Currently she’s focusing on the several intersecting “study lines” – as called at Casco Art Institute – of art for and of the commons, including Unmapping Eurasia (co-curated with You Mi), Center for Ecological Unlearning (with the Outsiders), and Diverse Economies.

In conjunction with her position at Casco Art Institute, Binna teaches at the Dutch Art Institute masters program, and works for and with the trans-local network Arts Collaboratory. Besides, she worked as a curator for the 2016 Gwangju Biennale titled The Eighth Climate (What Does Art Do) and, in that context, co-organized with Maria Lind the global forum and fellowship of experimental art organizations called All the Contributing Factors. In the same year, together with Yollótl Alvarado and Brigitta Isabella, she organized an experimental exhibition introducing Arts Collaboratory working principles at the Asia Culture Center, Gwangju.


Ruby van der Wekken

Ruby van der Wekken considers herself a member of the Global Justice Movement. Learning from the Global South has been important for her through the World Social Forum process, as well as working for the environmental foundation Siemenpuu in Finland until beginning 2018.

In addition, the last 10 years have brought more engagement on a local level, and since spring 2018 she has engaged herself further on the level of alternative building, and is daily involved on the farm of Food cooperative Oma Maa (CSA) some 30 km outside of Helsinki, taking part in the foodbag production, as well in the overall development of the co-op.

She is also a co-founding member Helsinki timebank which was founded in 2009, and which has wanted to play a progressive voice with regards to the potential of complementary currencies for other economy building in Finland. The political envisioning which inspires her as a doer/activist of other economy building is that of ‘solidarity economy building and through this a furthering of our commons and commoning’ which is a notion present in the platform hoped to be developed with Commons.fi



Image: Book situation “Toilet Tissues #3: Against All Odds: Migrant Domestic Labor Struggle and Forms of Organizing” with Faisol Iskandar, “Elephants in the Room,” Assembly, Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, 2-3 November 2018. Photo: Filippo Giuseppe Iannone.