The annual Assembly for commoning art institutions has been a key activity for Casco Art Institute since 2018. In these meetings the lessons learned in the joint project Site for Unlearning: Art Organization (2014-2018) by the Casco team and artist Annette Krauss are further elaborated. This project was developed to unlearn institutional habits that oppose the commons, as reflected in the hierarchy of endless productivity, planning, decision-making and our work in relation to different gender identities, races, cultures, ages and skills. In this project we actively worked on all subjects that are now requested from all institutes in the sector via the Governance Code Culture, the Fair Practice Code and the Code Diversity and Inclusion. We will continue this project in part in the context of the Assembly, where we will share the lessons learned. The Assembly opens the floor for institutional reflection and invites participants to actively consider issues related to the development of Casco Art Institute. We address complex challenges that we encounter and, together with artists and organizations within and outside art, we look for possible solutions through a commons approach. In this way, we develop a rich ecosystem of individuals – artists, curators, activists, and other practitioners – and organizations who actively contribute to our institutional development.
The Assembly is neither a symposium nor a political assembly, but a hybrid form of collaboration, sharing and collective care. Each Assembly devotes itself to an agenda item in working sessions, workshops, lectures and pitches and then dedicates ourselves to a collective decision-making process and an agenda for further developments. During the Assembly, financial and non-financial resources are collected that are used to realize this agenda. The Assembly works according to commons principles of cooperation, whereby each participant is given a valid voice and can be heard in various ways. Participants actively learn about the different ways in which a working method based on the commons can be introduced in their own work practice and organizational structure.
Previous Assemblies have focused on the ingrained habits of art institutions and unlearning the sense of pressure (Elephants in the Room, 2018), drawing up a Climate Justice Code (Our House is On Fire, 2019), and the resilience of various forms of collective art practices (We Owe Each Other Everything, 2020). The Assembly brings together partners from within and outside the art sector to build new relationships and collaborations that strengthen the contemporary art sector. Because every edition of the Assembly responds to current issues and, depending on this, always takes on different (organizational) forms, we are not yet able to determine the topics of the Assembly. The steering committee is in charge of this process, but works closely with a group of active participants from previous editions.
The Assembly attracts a wide audience that responds to the program because of both an interest in the form and the theme. Partner organizations with an audience that is new to us also actively share the Assembly, which means that our reach continues to expand. In-depth reviews have appeared in renowned art magazines including Kunstkritik, Temporary Art Review, and in a special edition of our radio program Common Air, the Assembly has gained even more name recognition. In the coming years, the priority will be to continue this public outreach and to work with more different partners to further disseminate the material generated within the Assembly. We emphasize a national level where we focus on the commons field. To realize this, and to support the artists and participants, we organize an accessible art market and exhibition for a wide audience. A shared income and distribution model is being developed for this activity to complement the existing collective pot model.
Click on the singular Assembly pages to read more information, their colophons (both are to be further refined on this website) and listen to the recordings from each edition below.