A Feral Commons
The Global Co-Commission Project - spearheaded by Alserkal Advisory in collaboration with the Global Cultural Districts Network (GCDN) - presents its pilot: A Feral Commons.
A Feral Commons has been established to prototype and document principles of responsible commissioning of public art in an era of escalating climate crisis. Placing artistic voices at the heart of this critical moment A Feral Commons has been developed by curator Tairone Bastien, with three cultural districts across three continents.
Much of the process of public art commissioning is operating largely outside of imperatives to counteract the current climate emergency. This project was conceived as a way to address this issue. Under the curatorial thesis of A Feral Commons there will be examinations of the parameters of site control, questioning of the full expanse of sustainability, engagement with multiple stakeholders for the artworks within their respective public realms, and open questions around the shared responsibilities for the commissioning of work. This new intelligence will evolve over the life cycle of the installations, learnings for future art making in the public sphere in more circular and sustainable ways will be published and shared.
Two tools developed by UAP – Artwork Ingredient List and Public Art 360 – constitute a baseline to quantify what responsible commissioning could begin to look like in the 21st century. The former calculates the carbon footprint of each commission in order to provide data about the environmental impact of the artworks, while the latter will quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate the social, cultural, and economic impacts of the installations, holistically measuring the effect the artwork has on communities and its surroundings over an extended period. For this first iteration of the Global Co-commission, UAP is working with research partners Griffith University and Future Normal, who will be instrumental in customising and analysing Public Art 360 while ensuring academic rigour.
Led by Alserkal Advisory, there are three projects in the pilot. Alserkal Avenue (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) presents a work by Muhannad Shono (b.1977, Riyadh, KSA); Kingston Creative (Kingston, Jamaica) is showing Camille Chedda (b.1985, Manchester, Jamaica) and Victoria Yards (Johannesburg, South Africa) is presenting Io Makandal (b.1987, Johannesburg, South Africa). Each artist examined often unrecognised non-human entanglements with human-built infrastructures, aiming to contribute to a rebalancing of the communities and relations of humans and more-than-humans that surround us. Each commission is aligned to climate imperatives and invested in its location and community's unique characteristics and dynamics.
Muhannad Shono in his studio. Credit: Bala Ochangco / Seeing Things
Camille Chedda in Kingston Creative. Image Credit: Dennis Fyffe / Denni Visuals
Io Makandal – Feral Commons, Image Credit: Earl Abrahams
Global Co-commission curator, Tairone Bastien
The commissions have been conceptualised and produced in dialogue, supporting the growing need for cultural districts to share knowledge and resources on a regular working basis and helping them amplify each other’s efforts and speak with a collective voice addressing the pressing issues of our time. These include the stewardship of asking questions about sustainability at the outset and qualifying the impact of stakeholder engagement by treating the artwork as the beginning of a conversation with communities.
Through the Global Co-commission, Alserkal Advisory has sought to develop a new accountable framework for future commissioning, directly addressing the climate crisis through quantitative reports on the carbon footprint of each commission, assessments of community impact and qualitative appraisals of how new intelligence contributes to our more comprehensive understanding of place-based responses.
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