commons / solidarity


The Glossary of Common Knowledge (GCK) seeks to find common knowledge to speak about less visible stories in contemporary art and address systems that govern our ways of thinking in art and beyond. In previous seminars, we focused on the notions of commons “that encourage, celebrate and protect the right to diversity, signified by a decentralised structure, which moves away from ‘traditional’ methods of making artistic statements, protests, or social critiques in the globalised world.” Some of our narrators addressed commons as a verb, as an act of commoning that comes together as transnational solidarity in historical alliances and movements like the International Art Exhibition for Palestine, the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, Artist of the World against Apartheid, or the Exhibition in Support of the Nicaraguan People. As calls for solidarity drastically sore in times of war, economic collapse, natural disasters or pandemics, these cases should help us to respond to our current state of exception and incite us to create alliances of solidarity to face the times to come.


People come together in solidarity in order to undermine overarching repressive or violent political situations, to find alternatives for exploitative economic conditions, or to overcome distress after natural disasters. But calls for solidarity do not solely appear as a reaction in times of exceptional hardship. Solidarity is at the core of our project as society, as found in the worker’s movement, in feminism, and in the decolonisation processes all around the world.


People in solidarity find common denominators by defining radical alternatives for the violence that divide them, enslave them, push them to the private sphere, ignore them and deprive them. The current situation invokes the need for solutions (basic income, universal health care) which stand against the reduction of aid to individual acts of charity that have no systemic implications. Individual acts may mitigate a fraction of the problem while perpetuating the cause of the social disease – global inequality in late capitalism.


At present, biopolitics is in every move we make as the notions of private and public space and the basic human rights have been under severe strain. The need for compliance and not defiance is presented as a personal responsibility to fellow human beings while the insidious bond between autocratic politics and economic stability by means of consumerism and free-market economy nullifies any form of critical analysis. The perversion of hidden exploited labour (factory workers, warehouse workers) is moved even further from the eyes of the public while everything continues to be available in the comfort of the private space just one click away. The online communities of solidarity are impressive but at the same time show that we are predominantly communicating, organising and connecting with people we know, the familiar not the strange. The micropolitical (hyperlocal, translocal) perspective is important. However, we call for the unity of people, for the macropolitical, to go beyond temporal mitigation of healthcare crises and economic crash and propose sustainable social solutions for the fragile people (refugees, migrant workers, victims of domestic violence, drug users, the sick, the old, the weak) in prolonged precarious situations. Sustainable solution today can only be a change on a planetary level, a change for us all.



Organised by Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain and the L'Internationale confederation.


For safety reasons related to prevention of the spread of Covid-19 the seminar will take place online.


date 22 – 24 June 2020