Commoning the Art Institution: How does commoning as knowledge and as practice contribute to the formation of institutional identity?
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As the threat of ecological, financial and social crises grows, the demand for alternative frameworks that provide knowledge and strategy outside of neoliberal influence is proving of increasing importance. Over the past decade, a feasible, alternative framework has been recognized in the commons. As a result, scholars argue commons thinking and practice has become integrated as a guiding principle within art institutions, first as a method of organization, subsequently as a mode of critical encounter towards contemporary societal frictions and finally, as an overarching form of identity. Traditionally, the commons have been understood as the shared use and management of resources by and for a community, according to a set of democratically defined rules and typically in relation to material goods such as land, water and food. More recently however, the commons has come to also be understood in relation to spaces that can facilitate the mutual exchange between aesthetics and politics as a method of raising awareness of the social ecologies of the individual, the collective and the institution. Although there has been considerable scholarly attention paid towards material commons, there is a notable dearth of research surrounding immaterial aspects of the commons such as knowledge, language art and culture. Arguably, even less has been produced in reference to the commons in practice, with the majority of work focusing on hypothetical frameworks or guidelines. Therefore, what is required is a body of research that not only explores how art institutions are producing radical frameworks as an answer to societal frictions, but one that also unpicks and untangles those who are already doing so. Therefore, this thesis seeks to explore how commoning in the arts uses commons thinking and practice to contribute to the formation of institutional identity as part to larger institutional movements.