beyond the conventional usage of the language in contemporary art

Glossary of Common Knowledge (GCK) is a five-year research project by MG+MSUM in the frame of L’Internationale. It is curated by Zdenka Badovinac (MG+MSUM), Bojana Piškur (MG+MSUM) and Jesús Carrillo (MNCARS) in collaboration with the L’Internationale narrators and the global family narrators. GCK is coordinated by the MG+MSUM and its executive board. The roles of the curators are mainly to formulate an overall concept of the project, to propose and edit the terms, to structure the seminar, to edit the book, and last but not least to invite the global family narrators and the meta-narrator. More about the role of narrators in the next passage.

Glossary of Common Knowledge book, Vol. 1

The Glossary of Common Knowledge (GCK) is a compilation of art terminology that differs substantially from what is found in the existing literature on art. It was a five-year research project by Moderna galerija (MG+MSUM) in the frame of L’Internationale. In collaboration with institutions and individuals from Europe and other parts of the world, 66 contributors/narrators proposed terms relating to their own practices and contexts, to historical references, political or social situations or L’Internationale projects. The terms were discussed and defined on six seminars dealing with six referential fields (historicisation, subjectivisation, geopolitics, constituencies, commons and other institutionality) and the book follows these topics in six chapters. 


Narrators created a plurality of voices and narratives which examine the proposed terms and add their different viewpoints, bringing with them overlooked, suppressed knowledge and also non-Western categories of thought and memories. This method enabled different ways of participation, sharing and using the knowledge and working together trans-globally.


The book contains 86 terms proposed by 66 contributors: Nick Aikens, Azra Akšamija, Burak Arıkan, Marwa Arsanios, Zdenka Badovinac, Sezgin Boynik, Boris Buden, Zoe Butt, John Byrne, Jesús Carrillo, Colin Chinnery, Keti Chukhrov, Anyely Marín Cisneros, Rebecca Close, Lia Colombino, Bart De Baere, Carlos Prieto del Campo, Marta Malo de Molina, Ekaterina Degot, Galit Eilat, Róza El-Hassan, Patrick D. Flores, Kate Fowle, Cristina Freire, Anthony Gardner, Chema González, Alenka Gregorič, Dušan Grlja, Khwezi Gule, Aigul Hakimova, Vít Havránek, Beatriz Herráez, Ida Hiršenfelder, Marianna Hovhannisyan, Manray Hsu, Marko Jenko, Anej Korsika, Vasıf Kortun, Anders Kreuger, Lisette Lagnado, Thomas Lange, Miguel A. López, Manos Invisibles, Sohrab Mohebbi, Gabi Ngcobo, Miglena Nikolchina, Ahmet Öğüt, Meriç Öner, November Paynter, Alexei Penzin, Jabulani Chen Pereira, Bojana Piškur, Paul B. Preciado, Tzortzis Rallis, pantxo ramas, Suely Rolnik, Rasha Salti, Raúl Sánchez Cedillo, Aida Sánchez de Serdio Martín, Ania Szremski, Igor Španjol, Mabel Tapia, Francisco Godoy Vega, Jelena Vesić, Stephen Wright, Darij Zadnikar, Adela Železnik


Glossary of Common Knowledge was curated by Zdenka Badovinac (Moderna galerija, Ljubljana), Bojana Piškur (Moderna galerija, Ljubljana) and Jesús Carrillo (Museo Reina Sofia, Marid, 2012-2016), the book edited by Ida Hiršenfelder, and published by Moderna galerija.

ISBN 978-961-206-132-6

gck structure | narrators

L’Internationale narrator is one person for each of the 6 L’Internationale partners, who does not necessarily have to be from the institution itself. L’Internationale partners can also delegate external collaborators (for example, a philosopher, art historian, sociologist, etc. that the institution has been closely associated with) at their discretion. Institutions can delegate different people for each seminar or change the delegates during the GCK research period. It would be preferable if the group consisted of the same people throughout the project, but it is not absolutely necessary. Each partner is free to have local advisors (who will not attend the seminars) that are credited in the GCK. The narrators will be asked to:

1. choose a term that is relevant in the context of their respective institution;

2. provide a definition of that term resulting from discussions within their institution;

3. participate in a seminar at which the terms will be collectively edited, together with other narrators and without losing the plurality of voices;

4. work on the post-production (post-editing) of the term. After the seminar, the terms (the text) can be (collectively) reedited.


Global family narrators are international curators, academics, and theoreticians invited by GCK curators to join the project in addition to L’Internationale narrators. Ideally, these narrators will be from an already existing networks or formal or informal groups or collectives, but they can also be representatives of some other organization or individuals presenting their own positions. The global family narrators will be asked to:

1. choose a term that is relevant for their group / network, organization, context or individual position;

2. provide a definition of the term resulting from a collective discussion if the narrator represents a group / network, organization; 3. participate in a seminar at which the terms will be collectively edited with other narrators and without losing the plurality of voices;

4. work in the postproduction (post-editing) of the term. After the seminar, the terms (the text) can be (collectively) reedited.


At the first seminar historicization, the curators of GCK had also invited a meta-narrator of the common stories. The meta-narrator was to report on the discussions between the narrators; this should ideally be someone who is not directly involved (preferably a historian or a professor), who is an experienced writer and has time to dedicate to the Glossary. The meta-narrator also proposes a term. The number of participants at the seminar: narrators from L’Internationale institutions (MACBA (1), Reina Sofia (1 + Jesus Carrillo as a curator of the project), VanAbbe (1), M HKA (1), Salt (1), MG (2)) + 6 global family narrators + 1 meta-narrator + GCK coordination team from MG (they do not provide a term but are present for the practicalities and the logistics. They are members of the executive board of GCK).

gck structure | referential fields

The compilation of the entries for the Glossary of Common Knowledge will result from discussions at the seminars in Ljubljana, in which all the agents listed above will be expected to participate. There are 6 already selected referential fields agreed upon; historicization, subjectivization, geo-politics, other institutionality, and commons. Each seminar will be dedicated to a different referential field.

gck structure | terms

Each narrator proposes one term for each referential field. That means that during each seminar from 14 to 17 terms will be discussed and elaborated. The narrators will be asked to bring various materials (such as references to projects, artworks, texts, archival materials) only later, in the postproduction stage; for the seminar, only their suggestions on materials are requested, especially those relevant to the discussion at the seminar. During the seminar, screenings, projections, presentations of books and catalogues and similar will be possible. A term can be described from one or more perspectives. Instructions on how to approach the referential fields, i.e. how to choose a term that will correspond to a field: 

1. contemporary understanding of the referential field (related to our own practices)

2. historical reference to the referential field (history or art history)

3. political, social reference to the context

4. L’Internationale projects (references related to the L’Internationale projects; for L’Internationale partners only)

gck structure | associative terms

Associative connections will enable linking or cross-referencing of the terms/entries (and materials). The connections can be based on history, geographical/political associations or effects: they will be made six months after the seminar. All the narrators will be requested to make associative connections using the GCK online platform.

gck structure | seminars

The seminars aim at discussing how to approach referential fields, and to enable performative methods of collaboration. The seminars will take place in the MSUM (Museum of Contemporary art Metelkova), Maistrova 3, Ljubljana, Slovenia. In the first stage, the narrators are asked to comment on the GCK proposal with emphasis on a common methodology. In the second stage, two weeks before the first seminar, the narrators are asked to send a short draft or abstract of the term they are going to present to all the narrators participating in the seminar (1-page maximum). After a draft version of the proposed term, the terms are going to be discussed at seminars in the following schedule:

8 to 9 May 2014 – 1st seminar – historicization

12 to 13 December 2014 – 2nd seminar – subjectivization

16 to 17 September 2015 – 3rd seminar – geo-politics

2 to 4 March 2016 – 4th seminar – constituencies

27 to 29 June 2016 – 5th seminar – other Institutionality

17 to 18 Janary 2017 – 6th seminar – commons


During the seminar the terms were presented, discussed and edited by the narrators in a communicative and transparent process, using the so-called performative method. The method enables different kinds of collective work based on transparency and communication. Working together is at the same time both a method and a translation tool – as everybody is present, there is no need for mediators or translators. Each term was signed by the narrator and by the institution or network. Additionally, each narrator was asked to assume responsibility for his or her term (to re-edit it after the discussion). All the texts of the proposals that are put online should be signed by the author (original narrator) and institution / network or organization or individual. At the same time, a term is edited and commented by more people, who will sign their posts/comments. 6 months after the seminar, the narrators will be asked to access the GCK web platform to make associative connections between terms, projects, references, etc. (adding a short explanation why the connection was made).

aims and results

1. producing and sharing knowledge with the L’Internationale partners and the global family of narrators

2. proposing other democratic models of cultural production / building a community of producers-users

3. creating a common language / broadening the limits of language / the limits of my language mean the limits of my world

4. dialogical structure / the narrators are present, self-translation

Narrators create a plurality of voices and narratives which constantly examine the proposed terms and add their different viewpoints, bringing with them overlooked, suppressed knowledge and also non-Western categories of thought, memories and various “absences” (such as the absence of archives, of museum collections, of art schools, etc.). The work method is based on common interests – creating other kinds of knowledge, that is, to re-enter into the Glossary concepts that have been largely excluded from epistemic legitimacy and in this way confront the current attempts to control and seize knowledge. This method enables different ways of participation, sharing and using the knowledge and working together trans-globally. Results: 

1. Seminars
2. Online platform
3. A book

online platform

The online glossary platform is an independent site designed by the MG+MSUM web team in collaboration with the L’Internationale team and will include the process (the seminars, the collective translations, and the oral part of the seminar/an archive of the discussions), the associative connections, the comments and interactive possibilities.

Glossary of Common Knowledge is a part of a five-year programme The Uses of Art – Legacy of 1848 and 1989 led by L'Internationale confederation of museums. Supported by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Culture Programme of the European Union.