Commonist Aesthetics

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

= project co-produced by cultural center CASCO in Utrecht, the Netherlands



"Commonist Aesthetics is a loose series of articles on commonism as the contemporary afterlife of the idea of communism. The contributions by Marina Vishmidt, Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen, Isabell Lorey, Sven Lütticken, Andreas Siekmann, Christoph Brunner & Gerald Raunig, Marc James Léger, Érik Bordeleau and Matteo Pasquinelli will soon be supplemented by new essays from Kerstin Stakemeier and Metahaven among others. Later this year, the whole Commonist Aesthetics project will be rounded off by a book publication." (


Binna Choi, Sven Lütticken, Jorinde Seijdel:

"In her proposal for a “commonist ethics”, Susan Buck-Morss warns that “we need to reject creating an -ism out of any political or theoretical orientation – no communism, no capitalism, no Marxism, no totalitarianism, no imperialism – no isms at all. These are cosmological systems, economies of belief that resemble the medieval Christological economy (oikonomia) in that all their elements are internally consistent and logically satisfying, as long as there is no contamination by facts or events that, like illegal aliens of some sort, enter from the outside.” For Badiou, we now only have the substantive of communism, the Idea, but no adjectives: no communist party, no communist ideology. Buck-Morss turns it around: only adjectives, no nouns. Or perhaps communism needs to be verbed, as with the notion of communization, which “requires that we start thinking communism from within the immanent conditions of global capitalism rather than from a putatively radical or communist ‘outside’” (Benjamin Noys).6 The commons, too, are conceptualised in terms of forms of commoning.

The Situationist International has always insisted that there is no such thing as Situationism, and heaped scorn on anyone who suggested otherwise. In practice, scholars and theorists who would not dream of referring to “Situationism” in print, use the word as shorthand in conversation. In art, the danger of isms has always seemed less their tendency to become ironclad ideological systems and more their status as packaged hot air, soon to be followed by the next fashion. As Marcel Duchamp once put it in a telegram to the magazine ARTnews: “Bravo! for your 60 ism-packed years”. Today, in the age of Speculative Realisms and New Materialisms, philosophy has adopted what used to be an art-world modus operandi.

Under the circumstances, we propose to entertain the idea (with a lower-case i) of commonism as shorthand not for one of Buck-Morss’ frightening conceptual-ideological prisons, but for a constellation of practices and lines of thought that produce productive tension rather than neo-Stalinist conformity? Incidentally: In the early 1960s Andy Warhol tried to establish the term “Commonism” as a name for the art movement that would become known as Pop Art. Conversely, the label introduced slightly later by Konrad Lueg, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter for their German version of Pop Art, Capitalist Realism, was recently appropriated by Mark Fisher for his trenchant analysis of contemporary capitalism.

We will be presenting a loose series of articles on commonism here in Open! as the contemporary afterlife of the idea of communism; an afterlife after the Party, after the Proletariat as Revolutionary Subject, after the “statist” model of the revolution. The focus will be on commonist aesthetics, but here the aesthetic is obviously not conceived along the lines of aestheticism. The aesthetic pertains to the world of the senses – to a residually common world, as Terry Eagleton once put it. What “redistributions of the sensible” can aesthetic practice and theory imagine?

Commonist Aesthetics is a close collaboration of Open! with Binna Choi (Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht) and Sven Lütticken."

More Information