Seminar Common Knowledge
22 April 2012 — 22 April 2012

Speakers: Zdenka Badovinac, Bart de Baere, Jesús Carrillo, Charles Esche, Pascal Gielen, Brian Holmes, Vasif Kortun, Rastko Močnik, Georg Schöllhammer, Madina Tlostanova


L'Internationale*, a network of five European institutions based on long-term collaboration, is shaping some kind of meta-museum through various forms of research, a museum whose focus is, among other things, on the museum institution itself and its currently topical notions. A glossary of shared knowledge proffers itself as one of the possible spaces of this meta-museum. The new museum objects are no longer artifacts, but increasingly collections of ideas. The form of a glossary, which allows for continuous adding and editing, speaks of self-reflection as one of the emancipatory potentials of museum work. The Common Knowledge seminar represents a possible beginning for compiling such a glossary.


The seminar Common Knowledge
The purpose of this seminar is to encourage reflection on a possible new and different approach to creating common knowledge, more in sync with our time than the prevalent epistemological and institutional models. The seminar will be divided in two main parts, the first one entitled Horizontal Connections, and the second one, Verticality in the Service of Common Knowledge. The first part will focus on the new global conditions and on the fact that we require more equality in creating knowledge under these conditions, and the second one, on the need to redefine institutions so that they can attune themselves to this new situation.


Horizontal Connections
Contemporaneity, which started with the fall of the communist regimes and the accelerated processes of globalization, is characterized also by initiatives against hegemonic narratives and the existing dominant systems of knowledge. The seminar also proposes to detect a new, more horizontal dynamic in creating knowledge, not just any dynamic, however, but one that looks for the emancipatory potential of variously produced knowledge and its diverse forms of organization, primarily those excluded from the dominant systems.


The key points for the topics of the seminar are the following:


The need for more equality in dialogue under the global conditions / Creating a common through network collaboration
Over the past two decades we have witnessed a variety of initiatives for finding alternatives to dominant institutional models of the museum, of art education, and education in general. How can we fight the various hegemonic positions embodied in the Western models of institutions and Western epistemological models? Various alternative models seem to be shaping almost daily in attempts to answer this question. For the most part they are temporary, informal, self-organized forms of work, sometimes inspired also by certain historical avant-garde models. Despite their often naively anti-institutional position, they have created some successful platforms for connecting individuals, non-institutional initiatives , and institutions in temporary networks. This horizontal collaboration is becoming increasingly important in the globalized world of today with its vastly different art spaces and hybrid institutions that are finding the vertical-type of connections based on status less and less useful. Attempts to establish a more equal dialogue and exchange of knowledge internationally require also better and more profound knowledge of the different models of the production of knowledge. And these models should find their place in the glossary of L'Internationale.


Reactivated memory / A common understanding of the historical as a condition of emancipation
Today it is unnecessary to stress that universal in this dominant system really means particular, something that only seems unrelated to time and space and only presents itself as ahistorical. It would appear that only spaces that have until recently been excluded from the system, and consequently, from the dominant history, are interested in the historical. This interest is becoming a common priority of individual localities, and it is this shared trait that creates the preconditions for shaping common knowledge. The localities we have in mind here are first and foremost those that have not constructed their own local histories yet, much less integrated them into more general international narratives. We need to be aware of the terminology these localities use when entering international dialogue. A glossary of common knowledge includes a body of terms that no longer pretend to be universal, or rather, see their universality in their specificity. We are particularly interested in terms that relate to reactivated memory (with special emphasis on cases of repressed and neutralized emancipatory potentials of individual artistic practices and forms of organization in various geopolitical situations), and the various different cases of self-defining related in particular to non-Western histories.


Verticality in the Service of Common Knowledge
L'Internationale is a network of institutions that have come together through their dissatisfaction with the prevalent forms of inter-institutional cooperation, which is based primarily on the similarity of status and comparability of budgets. With the current increased interest in the art of under-represented spaces, it is very easy for dominant institutions to capitalize on the knowledge produced by their less powerful counterparts. For this reason L'Internationale wishes to raise the visibility of the multitude of narratives co-created by agents that differ in status and origin. The network also represents an alternative to the dominant neoliberal connections, at odds with the historical role of institutions, that is, of being, in the first place, producers of knowledge. It is not only capital, however, that tarnishes the institutions' reputation, but also critical positions in the horizontal connections in the processes of creating knowledge. Many of the alternative approaches are, to a large extent, too temporary, too informal and not sufficiently publicly accountable to present a serious threat to the established institutions. They can, however, undermine the institutions' eminence, which the latter could reassert by acknowledging the significance of the knowledge coming from the bottom. To what extent can institutions really form connections outside their formal framework and aren't such connections in reality only revamps of already existing models of work? And if this is so, aren't such revamps only a way of reproducing the dominant Western epistemological system? Is it at all possible to envision some way of connecting the horizontal and the vertical processes that would make sense and produce common knowledge? Can we even speak about a new verticality, and if we can, how could we define it in our glossary so that it would be compatible with the glossary's narrative of emancipatory potentials?