Towards the Planetary Commons: Reimagining Infrastructures for Autonomy

Centre exterior, Towards the Planetary Commons, 2019
Installation view, Towards the Planetary Commons; Lorenzo Sandoval: Shadow Writing (Todo el universo es par. Sin embargo, estos pares son opuestos y se enfrentan en una tierra del medio), 2019
Installation view, Towards the Planetary Commons, 2019
Installation view, Towards the Planetary Commons; Lorenzo Sandoval: Shadow Writing (Todo el universo es par. Sin embargo, estos pares son opuestos y se enfrentan en una tierra del medio), 2019
Installation view, Marwa Arsanios, Who’s Afraid of Ideology? Part I (2017)
Installation view, Marwa Arsanios, Who’s Afraid of Ideology? Part I (2017)
Installation view, Marwa Arsanios, Who’s Afraid of Ideology? Part I (2017)
Installation view, Marwa Arsanios, Who’s Afraid of Ideology? Part I (2017)
Installation view, Towards the Planetary Commons; Lorenzo Sandoval: Shadow Writing (Todo el universo es par. Sin embargo, estos pares son opuestos y se enfrentan en una tierra del medio), 2019
Paloma Polo: Still from 'The earth of the Revolution' (2019), courtesy the artist
Paloma Polo: Still from 'The earth of the Revolution' (2019), courtesy the artist
They are Here, 'Prototypes for New Wardian Cases' (2019); courtesy They Are Here
Marwa Arsanios: Still from 'Who is Afraid of Ideology? Part 2' (2019), courtesy the artist
Marwa Arsanios: Still from 'Who is Afraid of Ideology? Part I' (2017), courtesy the artist
Image courtesy Lorenzo Sandoval

“we-are-in-this-together-but-we-are-not-one-and-the-same” — Rosi Braidotti

 
Neoliberal policies imposed on communities of humans and non-humans reinforce strategies of land grabbing and monoculture, threatening the land and its biodiversity. Whilst corporations and governments alike remain removed from accountability for pollution, natural resource extraction and displacement of entire communities, across the world, in regions such as the Philippines and Kurdistan, people are collectively adopting new modes of decision-making and self-governance through approaches inspired by eco-feminism, class struggle and planetary commoning practices.
 
Towards the Planetary Commons is a new exhibition investigating agency and autonomy in the face of global ecological crises. Encompassing a two-part programme of films by artists Marwa Arsanios and Paloma Polo, screened for the first time in the UK, and a 'living room' – an evolving installation comprising new artist works and learning resources – the programme reflects on different ways of living and on how new knowledge can emerge from struggles against current ecopolitical challenges. 
 
Showing during the first half of the exhibition are two films by Lebanese artist Marwa Arsanios, including her 2017 work Who is Afraid of Ideology? Part I and Who is Afraid of Ideology? Part 2, both of which are presented in the UK for the first time. In these works the artist explores forms of self governance and ecofeminism that have emerged from the autonomous women’s movement in Rojava, Syria, highlighting how group learning has become a vital component within the movement. The second phase of the programme will see the premiere of Spanish artist Paloma Polo’s new feature-length film The earth of the Revolution, which, in the context of the guerilla struggles in the Philippines, offers a nuanced look into and meditation on the political practices that underlie contemporary revolution.
 
Arts Catalyst’s second space is transformed into a ‘living room’ – an evolving installation of artist works and a library of ‘knowledge for living’ featuring case studies emerging from the programme and other learning resources – presented within the framework of a site-specific, modular environment designed by Berlin-based artist Lorenzo Sandoval. Taking the Andean symbol of the Chakana as a starting point for exploring ideas connected to nature, humans and the cosmos, Sandoval has created an installation comprising sculptural and functional elements that can be assembled, arranged and re-organised in a variety of formations. Presented fragmented, the work renders the impossibility of total access to meaning, as a way of self-questioning the use of this form. In another instance, the project draws from Silvia Rivera Cusicansqui’s proposal of the Aymara cosmovisión as an universal model for a harmonic interrelation between nature, ecology, and the cosmos: thereby offering a semiotic remedy against the capitalist destruction of life.
Other contributions include Paloma Polo’s 2015 animation work, What is Thought in the Thought of People, made in collaboration with Leonilo Doloricon and Becoming Planetary, a soundwork by UK-based collaborative practice They Are Here comprising field recordings sourced online, and which also marks the start of They Are Here’s year-long research residency at Arts Catalyst.
 
A programme of talks, conversations and workshops accompanies the exhibition featuring artists Luigi Coppola, Asunción Molinos Gordo, Paloma Polo, They Are Here, researcher Dr. Eray Çaylı and more to be announced.
 
Towards the Planetary Commons is part of Arts Catalyst’s Test Sites programme, an ongoing co-inquiry exploring the rapid transformations in human and non-human lives caused by environmental change. Featuring works by international artists, this next phase in the project opens up the programme to broader planetary perspectives. 
 
EXHIBITION DATES & TIMINGS
 
23 May – 6 July 2019 | Preview: Wednesday 22 May, 6.30pm
Exhibition open Thu – Sat, 12 – 6pm
 
11 July – 3 August 2019 | Launch & talk: Wednesday 10 July, 6.30pm
Exhibition open Thu – Sat, 12 – 6pm (Screenings at 12, 2 & 4pm)
 
EVENTS PROGRAMME
 
Thursday 6 June, 5:30 – 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
In collaboration with Arts Catalyst and Delfina Foundation
Friday 14 June, 4 – 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
In the context of Arts Catalyst’s current exhibition Towards the Planetary Commons and Delfina Foundation’s programme The Politics of Food, join us for an evening workshop led by artists Luigi Coppola and Asunción Molinos Gordo. 
The workshop aims to investigate the implications of language and terminologies embedded in dominant monocultural approaches whilst seeking to counter-verbalise them. How can one challenge the existing vocabulary underlying the politics of traditional botanical taxonomies and classifications? What new signifiers can agro-political practices articulate in order to question the power exercised through dispossession and exploitation of land, communities and biodiversity?
During the session the artists and the participants will map out the historical political and colonial entanglements of existing names of plants and seeds, while stimulating new imaginary glossaries for radical ecological politics. 
Artists, activists, researchers, gardeners and herbalists are invited to attend.
 
Sunday 7 July, 3pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
£5, booking essential 
 
Wednesday 10 July, Film Screening 4pm (FREE) 
Artist Talk 6.30pm – 8:30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
£5, booking essential 
 

Artists

Marwa Arsanios obtained her MFA from University of the Arts London in 2007, and was a researcher in the Fine Art department at Jan Van Eyck Academie from 2011 to 2012. She has had solo exhibitions at Witte de With, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (2016), Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon (2015), and Art in General, New York (2015). Her work was also shown at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011), Home Works Forum in Beirut (2010, 2013, 2015), the New Museum, New York (2014), M HKA, Antwerp, Belgium (2013), and nGbK, Berlin (2012). Screenings of her videos have taken place at the Berlinale, Berlin (2010, 2015), e-flux storefront, New York (2009), and Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011). In 2012 Arsanios was awarded the special prize of the Pinchuk Future Generation Art Prize. 
 
Paloma Polo is an independent researcher and visual artist based in Amsterdam and Luxembourg. Her artistic practice explores subjugated knowledges that can inform the history of knowledge production and the construction of humanely progressive political discourse. She is a member of the International Coordinating Committee of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS). Between 2007- 2009 Polo attended De Ateliers art residency program (Amsterdam) and in 2010 Gasworks residency program (London). Polo was a visiting research fellow in 2013 at the Center for International Studies, University of the Philippines-Diliman. Her later research explorations were hosted by Les Laboratoires D’Aubervilliers research and creation institution (Paris).
 
Lorenzo Sandoval works as an artist and curator, and produces spatial devices that work as narrative machines. Since 2015, he has run The Institute for Endotic Research – which opened as a venue in 2018 – together with Benjamin Busch. His recent research deals with divergent genealogies of the connections between image production, textile making and computation. Sandoval holds a B.F.A and a Masters in Photography, Art and Technology from the UPV (Valencia, Spain). His project 'Shadow Writing (Lace/Variations)' was presented at Lehman + Silva Gallery in Porto and Nottingham Contemporary and he was part of 'Canine Wisdom for the Barking Dog’. In 2019, he was artist in residence at Bisagra in Lima, which resulted in an exhibition at Amano Museum. He is part of Miracle Workers Collective who will be representing Finland in the Venice Biennale 2019.
 
They Are Here (f.2006) is a collaborative practice steered by Helen Walker and Harun Morrison. They are currently based in London and on the River Lea. Their works can be read as a series of context specific, non-narrative conceptual games. They often generate temporary systems and co-establish micro-communities that offer an alternate means of engaging with a situation, history or ideology. As artists in residence at Furtherfield, they initiated Seeds From Elsewhere (2016 - ongoing), an urban gardening project on disused land that brings together young migrants (including asylum seekers and refugees), family, friends and other professionals (including architects, photographers and carpenters). Each participant is supported to grow flowers or plants from their respective homeland. Throughout the process they literally and metaphorically ask ‘What can grow here that’s not from here?’.
SUPPORT
Supported by Wellcome Trust, University of Westminster, Bournemouth University, Canal and River Trust, and Arts Council England.