View images from the event on Flickr.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Saturday, 16 April 2011, 2:00-5:00pm
64 Chisenhale Road, London E3 5QZ

“To speak of the commons as if it were a natural resource is misleading at best and dangerous at worst—the commons is an activity and, if anything, it expresses relationships in society that are inseparable from relations to nature. It might be better to keep the word as a verb, an activity, rather than as a noun, a substantive.” – Peter Linebaugh (2008)

In the face of mass cuts to public services (particularly to arts and education), emerging forms of governance rampantly colonising intellectual resources in the digital domain, the privatisation of public space in urban development, and new narratives of the Big Society in the UK, what does the commons mean for us today? How can we approach a new protocol for the commons under such circumstances?

AMASS is an open conference that invites organisations, collectives and individuals working in the cultural sector to discuss past experiences, present practices, and future ambitions concerning mutual aid, pooled knowledge, networked infrastructures and modes of self-organisation. Through examining these varying perspectives concerning the commons, AMASS aims to address four key themes:

Open Source: A way of working that is free from individual concern and notions of property in a process of shared learning.

Sustainability: As a collaborative, and socially minded endeavour, rather than self-reliance or preservation.

Self-organisation: What meaningful self-organisation manifests through artists’ informal working methods.

Precarious Labour:
How to protect the rights of creative workers in an increasing atmosphere of insecurity and unpredictability.

Through these exchanges we wish to collectively investigate our strategies, successes, and failures, considering the obstacles and potentialities for the development of the commons. Following the event, all materials will be collated into an open online archive, which will serve as a generative research database for future endeavours.

1:30 – 2:00 – Tea, coffee and bagels
2:00 – 2:30 – Introduction to the commons (Stevphen Shukaitis)
2:30 – 3:15 – Amateurist Network (Eva Weinmayr and Sion Whellens)
3:15 – 3:30 – Break
3:30 – 4:15 – …ment (Anthony Illes and University for Strategic Optimism)
4:15 – 4:30 – Break
4:30 – 5:15 – DOXA (collected cases, interviews, and open analysis)
5:15: Closing – Please join us for a drink and networking

Contributors to AMASS include:

Stevphen Shukaitis
is a lecturer at the University of Essex and a member of the Autonomedia editorial collective. He is the author of Imaginal Machines: Autonomy & Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Day (2009, Autonomedia) and editor (with Erika Biddle and David Graeber) of Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations // Collective Theorization (AK Press, 2007). His research focuses on the emergence of collective imagination in social movements and the changing compositions of cultural and artistic labor.

Eva Weinmayr is an artist, lecturer and co-director of AND, a new platform for experimental publishing. AND’s current activities include the Piracy Book Project producing new collections for the Byam Shaw Library. Recent and upcoming exhibitions by Weinmayr include The Cult of The Difficult 2011; The Institute of Mental Health Is Burning Newport Museum and Art Gallery 2011.

Sion Whellens is Client Services Director at Calverts, a common ownership worker co-operative. He also works in co-operative development, particularly within the creative and cultural, arts and communications fields and is an elected member of the UK Co-operative Council and a Director of Co-operatives UK.

Anthony Iles is a contributing editor to online and quarterly print magazine, Mute, He is also Co-editor with Mattin of the recent book Noise & Capitalism, San Sebastian: Arteleku, 2009 and co-author with Josephine Berry Slater of No Room to Move: radical art and the regenerate city, published by Mute in October 2010. He writes on the instrumentalised role of culture within the current stage of ‘culture-led urban regeneration’, and notions of the ‘Creative City’ in global economics and policy.

The University for Strategic Optimism is a political and cultural activist group based in London who has been organizing various actions, lectures and disruptive activities in the public space following the drastic cuts of the public sector in England. The group promotes a fairer access to public education whilst offering an alternative based on the principle of free and open education.

AMASS is organised by:

is an international research collective of artists, theorists, designers, architects, and engineers. Through an on-going project called ‘Creative Space’, DOXA facilitates cross-disciplinary dialogue through open discussions to generate research and approach new practices and visions of culture for the future. DOXA (δόξα) is a common belief, as opposed to knowledge, and is associated with community, dialogue and truth. More:

Without a manifesto or definitive constitution the Amateurist Network foregrounds talking as a self-sustaining currency. Through a series of collective discussions it aims to strengthen the impulse to self-organise across disciplines, and furthermore to assert the rights of workers operating with this radically open or precarious approach. More:

…ment,  a new online journal for contemporary culture, art and politics based in London and Berlin. Through a multi-disciplinary set of editorial forms, the journal aims to reflect on current societal issues and debates. …ment acts as a field for enquiry, dialogue and experimentation, and is committed to emerging forms and ideas. More:

The event is supported by Openvizor, an international organisation and platform that initiates and supports critical exchange of ideas in arts and cultural practice and the active development by practitioners of partnerships and projects around the world that engage people, places and the forces of change from the ground up. More: