COLLECTIVE PRACTICES, program series
ACUD MACHT NEU, Berlin, Germany
May 2020 - January 2021
COLLECTIVE PRACTICES was a series that examined “collective practice” as it relates to artistic creation, cultural organizing and social coexistence. Together with all participating players, we, a team of cultural producers, wanted to research, discuss, understand and practice collectivity across four thematic explorations (#NARRATIVES / #KNOWLEDGES / #CARE / #RESISTANCE). What can “collective practice” mean, and how can we better practice collectivity – both in artistic production as well as in social life? How can we gain a more collaborative approach to living and working? How can we create and sustainably organize spaces and structures for temporary and long-term communities? How can we experiment within the cultural-artistic realm to inspire community-oriented and equitable thought and action on a broader level?
>>Final publication "COLLECTIVE PRACTICES: to be continued.." PDF Download
THE COLLECTIVE PRACTICES PROGRAM:
STORIES FROM THE FUTURE: Crisis as Catalyst for Carbon-Neutrality
Workshop / Series
With: Lisa Pettibone & Dylan Harris
Due to the constant growth of global greenhouse gas emissions over the past 200 years means we now have only 10 years to permanently reverse the rise of climate emissions and to become carbon neutral if we are to avoid the most devastating effects of runaway climate change. How can — and must—we work together to create a world where our grandchildren can thrive? This workshop series invited participants to imagine — and begin to build—the future we want and to envision the better way we want to be — 10 years from now. They were invited to create artifacts from their vision of the future, which could be short stories or poems, sculpture, technological prototypes, or scientific articles written in 2030. In creating these artifacts, they shared what we have learned through our collective investigation.
Archiving the Mo(ve)ment.
Conversations / Exhibition / Series
With: Okhiogbe Omonblanks Omonhinmin
This series looked into creating narratives of what it means to be Black and African today, as a collective practice. As part of a wider project (TAC / The Art Concept), Omonblanks facilitates and documents multifaceted and collaborative oral histories of lived experiences of people identifying as Black or African on the continent and in the diaspora. This chapter, taking place in the context of COLLECTIVE PRACTICES — focused on the current pandemic moment. Previously planned as a weekend gathering of conversations, screenings, exhibition, music and food — the project took shape in the digital space.
One-on-one Conversations: The conversations with Berlin-based Black and African people of various backgrounds examined lived experiences during the pandemic moment.
Artist Studio Visit — Visual Narratives: Omonblanks took us to visit Accra-based visual artist Eric Gyamfi in his studio virtually, for an introduction to his visual practice and a visit behind the scenes.
Conversation — How do Artists and Cultural Workers live through and after the Pandemic?: This conversation brought together artists and cultural workers to reflect on strategies to survive during times that do not allow for an audience or community to come together in a physical space.
Exhibition, with Artist Talk, Music and Food: The physical exhibition Archiving the Mo(ve)ment at ACUD Studio brought together a time capsule on Ghana in the 1950s with the threads of conversations that had been explored as part of the four-month-long project by Okhiogbe Omonblanks Omonhinmin during his period of isolation in Accra, Ghana. Food and music or sound are ways we continue exchange and interaction as a people, and were a part of the exhibition concept. Conversation — The Importance of Documenting and Archiving: This conversation about the practice and importance of documenting, archiving, exhibiting, sharing and producing Black stories was the concluding one as part of the Archiving the Mo(ve) ment project.
Listening & Discussion Group / Series
With: Lyra Pramuk
How do we listen? Which words do we use to describe our experience of music and sound? How can we honor our individual sonic tastes while building toward a collective understanding of the value and joy of music? Zusammen Zuhören is a music listening and discussion group for music professionals and professionals who work with music. Rooted in a deep listening practice, Zusammen Zuhören is designed as a safe, attentive online meeting space to discover, decode, and discuss the distinct elements we perceive in music that stimulate us. By critically discussing what makes us distinguish certain musical expressions, and exposing those unique responses to the frequencies of sound, we strengthen and encourage our ability to create and work with musical material across collaborative disciplines. Zusammen Zuhören was organized as a monthly three hour listening and discussion group, online and in the summer in the ACUD backyard.
Birdsongs of a Hyperorganism
Live cinema performance & artist talks
With: Marte Roel & Ary Ehrenberg
The two Mexican artists Marte Roel (based in Zurich, CH) and Ary Ehrenberg (based in Mexico City, MX) presented a newly developed live cinema performance, engaging and taking the audience deep into the blurry areas where nature and technology, language and nonverbal communication overlap to become indistinguishable. Their work evolves around »a queer theory of knowing« by exploring notions and concepts like alienation, nonverbal communication and the liquid body through concepts and methods such as binaural sounds or near pace interaction, playing with perception through the reconfiguration of the codes that build our reality.
Implications of Institutions — Exploring Art and Creativity beyond Market and State
Essay & Reading / Discussion Group
By: Jon Davies
In the essay, Jon Davies explored the recent history of market-state dynamics in the arts in the UK, and how the institutions that are gatekeepers limit and obstruct artmaking as a way of reimagining our lives. The publication of the essay was accompanied by a reading and discussion group to share thoughts and work through ideas raised in the text, together with the author. Through exchange, we have learnt from each others perspectives, shared thoughts on how to move on from here as creative individuals and communities, and addressed questions like the following - How do you see the situation in other localities where you may be residing currently? What is left of society outside the state and according neoliberal agendas — and can art be a way to reimagine our lives in an »outside« space? Which ways do you see for organizing ourselves as creative and interdependent communities? How do we want to take responsibility for a world that is not based on the exploitation of some for the well-being of others? Do we aim to change the institutions or abolish them altogether — and then what next?
Cooking & Eating / Conversation
With: Party Office (Vidisha-Fadescha)
Soil-to-Soil Meal was a social gathering that considered the importance of food and waste, and brought people together, in New Delhi and in Berlin respectively, to have intersectional dialogues around ecology and our commons. Aru Bhartiya (The Millet Kitchen) emphasizes on millets as biodiverse grains that care for both soil and the community. Participants were invited to make the recipes which have been thought out considering what doesn’t go in to nourish our body, what nourishes the soil through composting and bio-fertilizers, or what creates new life with seeds and leftovers. Participants were also encouraged to share their personal experiences with food, farming, food sources and its people, empowerment of agricultural communities, role of socio-cultural politics and legal rights that impact our commons.
Discussions / Series
With: Erkan Affan & guests
ORIENTierungsplan is a series of discussions that decentre Euro-American productions of knowledge as the norm of focus, instead opting to spotlight voices from a region regularly finding itself at the periphery of conversation: West Asia and North Africa (or MENA). Curated and chaired by Erkan Affan, ORIENTierungsplan was a monthly discussion in which activists, artists and researchers living in Berlin were invited to speak on a field in which they organize, create and work; subverting Western discursive supremacy and instead focusing on alternative productions, analyses and pedagogies of #KNOWLEDGE. ORIENTierungsplan was presented in collaboration with CASHMERE Radio.
The Cookout: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
With: The Incredible Edible Akynos
In this food experience event, the audience was invited to come eat and enjoy traditional Jamaican/American dishes prepared by the most Incredible Edible entertainer and
food snob Akynos, to experience Blackness through food, laughter, conversation and social distancing. Aim of this cookout was to practice and use one of the most important collaborative social practices of meeting, sharing and exchanging: eating food together. Hosted by the Incredible Edible Akynos, the event was conceived as a special experience.
Sprachwerkstatt: Wie möchten wir über unsere Utopien sprechen?
Mit: Julia Fritzsche
Wir sprechen den ganzen Tag. In der Kantine, am Kinderbett, beim Kaffee. Aber verwenden wir Wörter, die uns helfen, bestehende Strukturen in Frage zu stellen? Unser Begehren auszudrücken und utopische Räume zu eröffnen? Hin zu einem hierarchiefreien, emanzipatorischen, solidarischen, ökologischen, gerechten Leben? Oder verwenden wir Wörter, die die bestehende Welt verfestigen? Eine Sprache, die Machtstrukturen, Gewalt und Diskriminierung aufrecht erhält, neoliberales Denken bekräftigt und problematische Zustände als gegeben hinnimmt? In dem zweiteiligen Workshop haben wir wir gemeinsam unsere Sprache analysiert, von einem linken Blickwinkel aus. Mit welchen Begriffen fühlen wir uns eigentlich schon länger nicht wohl, und welche könnten wir stattdessen nutzen? Gibt es Zusammenhänge, Gefühlslagen und Vorstellungen, für die uns die Worte fehlen? Im Austausch über Worte und Ausdruck haben wir gegenseitig unsere Aufmerksamkeit für Sprache geschärft.
Workshop / Series
With: Colin Self
While the politics of assembly are especially pertinent to our daily lives, public safety, and mental health, this iteration of XOIR worked as an experiment of how to engage in group singing across distances and in new forms. To both cultivate a dialogue space about the foreclosure of communal experience and the precarity of creative collectivity in our times, these sessions served to both offer the meditative space of group sound production, as well as a conversation space about the creative ecologies and the politics of the voice in the times of COVID-19. Xoir was to both offer an exploratory space around the voice and group singing, as well as an inquiry toward the future possibilities and potentials of collective practice existing offline, in 3D space, with people.
With: Center for Intersectional Justice
The concept of intersectionality is widely discussed in the academic sphere but its practical implementation remains unclear. The CIJ seeks to bridge this gap by clarifying and deepening the understanding of intersectionality from a policy-oriented perspective. In the workshop, the CIJ provided insights into the theoretical meaning and practical use of intersectionality and we discussed their real-life implications. The workshop focused on the development and implementation of anti-discrimination and equal opportunity policies in cultural institutions. Through different interactive activities it furthered a knowledge and understanding of theories and practical approaches to tackle discrimination.
Ecosystems of Creativity
Ecosystems of Creativity is a four part series, which highlights the culture of the collective, exploring how they raise the creative pulse of cities and enable them (and those within) to thrive. Collectives function as physical and abstract networks of expression and community: they are incubators of diverse perspectives and practices that are often radical and unconstrained by societal norms. Often formed to create representation and space where it previously has not existed, collectives are inherently critical and both democratically and forcefully reshape their environments, diversifying the urban voice. Utilising the mediums of dance, discussion, music and meditation, the series will connect with a few of Berlin’s collectives showcasing how these ecosystems of creativity shape and contribute to the evolution of cities like Berlin.
Politics Of Desire...On The Dancefloor And Beyond
Talk with Max Folly, Ashus, Daddypuss Rex
In a world where discussions around »decolonising« and »unlearning« reign, this conversation will look at this in relation to desirability and attraction in a »cisnormative« world (even in queer spaces). This conversation seeks to extend the discussion around gender and gender binaries and encourage people to explore their own ideas around desirability. It will try to find the balance between encouraging the reassessment of ideals and respecting boundaries. This discussion will aim to be an open and safe space, where pressing and even uncomfortable questions around gender, identity and attraction can be asked and answered as objectively as possible.
In Our Bubble
Workshop with GOOD INTENTIONS
»In Our Bubble« is an evening centred around collective healing through music, led by Berlin founded collective and event series GOOD INTENTIONS aka GOODIES. GOODIES is a collective emphasising a DIY project space mentality within an artist-support-artist community of club performers. The experience »In Our Bubble« will be centred around togetherness and inspired by the concept of music as therapy, playing on the belief that within every human being lies a rhythm that ties us all together. Through a sound bath, calming visuals, meditation and live music, »In Our Bubble« will inspire inner peace and reflection, introducing the concept of mindfulness through creative practice.
Talk with THF Radio
THF Radio moves from their gatekeeper house at Tempelhof Airport into ACUD to guest curate a day of radio for »Ecosystems Of Creativity« via COLLECTIVE PRACTICES. Throughout the 7 hour guest broadcast, collectives, DJs and friends of THF will explore the concept of collectivity, community and constructing a better future via music and discussions. Duygu Ağal & Derya Yıldırım curators of this summer’s »BETTER FOR YOUR LIFE: Womxn Week« with THF, will be hosting a panel talk with Slic Unit (an all femme collective) and b2b-crew, exploring the challenges facing collective work and how the realisation of the »Womxn Week« manifested further steps towards collective knowledge, spreading agency & awareness amongst the whole collective. Juba, Sarah Farina, Kerstin Meißner and Nana Addison will also be returning to THF to continue their discussion on imagining an alternative radical future and creating a truly inclusive society. The day will be accompanied by music sets from Slic Unit, B2BCREW and Dj Monibi, showcasing THF’s sonic offering to the city.
Motions Through the Continent
Performance with Freak de l’Afrique
Since 2012 the Freak de l’Afrique collective has exposed Berlin’s nightlife to the wealth of African
clubsounds. From Afrobeats and Afro House to Kuduro and Coupé Décalé and beyond, all of these genres are an integral part of the crews’ performances and offerings to the city. For COLLECTIVE PRACTICES, the Freak De l’Afrique Soundsystem and its’ dancers will present a unique showcase combining sounds from the motherland with dance choreographies from various African regions. Mista Wallizz will be on the decks accompanied by DJ Nomi on the Mic, with their dancers Christon, Bella, Lucia & Exorcisse on the floor offering a sample of the richness and diversity of African creative expression, through their arresting choreography.
Coordinates to an Island in No Map — Film
With: Diana Troya and Amanda Chartier Chamorro
»Coordinates to an island in no map« is an audiovisual project about the search for an island that cannot be found on any map, guided by the dialogues with three women from the Abya Yala — Latin Afroamerica. Through their different practices, they are finding their ways to their respective islands: a future-utopic place that is as material as subjective. Through an adaptation of a feminist decolonial methodology, we explore the collective creation of narratives through historias vivas (living stories) that contest the hegemonic (hi)story and enable us to narrate the world from our reality, with our voices and words. This is a digital encounter with: Florencia Brizuela Gonzales, Doctor of Law and Political Science, based in Barcelona, whose research is particularly focused on human rights, feminism, women’s rights and anti-racism;Tatiana Avendaño, trans-hack- feminist philosopher, raver, digital security practitioner and telepathy apprentice; and Yuliana Ruano-Ortiz, poet, editor and story weaver, who found in this practice the necessary tools to answer her own questions that environmental engineering was not providing.
TO BE CONTINUED
3 Days Online Event / Program Finale
Since June 2020, artists, activists, academics, journalists and cultural producers of various disciplines and backgrounds have — explored topics surrounding being, living and working collectively, and have brought people together in participatory gatherings, exchanges and discussions. While this particular series is coming to an end, we consider the work of exploring collective practices to be ongoing — and therefore TO BE CONTINUED.
Day #1: COLLECTIVE NARRATIONS
Consent of the Governed: Kink, Constitution & Race
Discussion / Publication
Party Office and After Party Collective invited artists/ organisers/kinksters to think about the relations of the Body and the Constitution. We thought about our positionality, desires and their relations to the constitutional and legal systems we get placed within, and if they affirm us or not. Participants were from different global locations, doing anti-racism work, anti-caste work, organizing and thinking of Indigenous rights, Trans rights, feminisms, BDSM, Sex Work and more. The conversation and publication pushed to articulate these relations through subjectivities of kink.
Storytelling and Speculative Thinking as Tools for Collective Visions of Carbon-Neutral Futures
After 8 months of brainstorming, discussing and time travels to the year 2030, the facilitators of the
workshop series Stories From the Future, together with guests, talked about storytelling and speculative thinking as methods to collectively think about our collective future(s). Based specifically on their experience of conducting an international online workshop over the course of 9 months, we collectively reflected on the potential of collectively writing and narrating ways to futures yet to reach.
Performance / Presentation
Sonic Interventions is a project that emerged organically from a pure need, namely, that of creating a community through music with and for people during a time of social distancing. For the COLLECTIVE PRACTICES closing event, the collective will share an iteration of their practice. They will provide an immersive audio-visual performance exploring the sensory perceptions of ritual relationships, with an accompanying photography archive created by researchers & photographers, Nyambura and Jess Korp. The nostalgia and transience captured in their way of seeing, honours the many places that this collective is from, while celebrating the intimacy of being part of a collective driven by connecting loose threads and the need to re-image home during a time of social distancing. The performance will involve collaborative work between Nyambura from Kenya, Jess from Ethiopia, Astaan of French Malian descent, Exoce of French-Congolese descent, Dumama from South Africa and Dylan Hunter Chee Greene of Chinese- Canadian descent. Here, they will invoke their embodied memory, creating a space that moves the imagination.
Day #2: COLLECTIVE NARRATIONS
Disobedient Chains of Care: Organizing Solidarity with Agricultural Workers, Live-in Carers, Migrants and Tenants
In this panel, the group focussed on organising solidarity amid the pandemic to support the migrant workers in agriculture and live-in care, migrants excluded from the borders of European union and tenants under the threat of eviction. Starting from there, we wish to discuss larger implications of the present moment on collective organising, as well as the societal provision of care.
Solidarity as a Collective Practice
In this session we explored practices and concepts of solidarity — as a meta collective practice and imaginary of relation at the level of societies. During the months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the concept of solidarity frequently appears in the news headlines — in forms of solidarity with those at risk of complications from infection, with hospital workers, with your local corner pub, with those severely affected by the pandemic anywhere in the world. It is now called upon when distributing vaccines. Solidarity does not equal charity though. In solidarity, class, feminist or race struggles have joined forces in the past. Struggles for affordable housing for everyone, for a sustainable life on earth for all beings, or for open borders and rights for migrants bring different groups together in a shared vision. Departing from an idea of solidarity as a coalition in a shared interest, in a shared utopia of a society or world we would like to live in collectively — we explored conceptual facets, visions and stumbling blocks, as well as learned from lived experiences and examples.
Post-Hierarchy: Strategies of Living and Working collectively
This panel reflected on collectivity in cultural (and other) work situations on a meta level by looking at the working structures and conditions of artistic (and other) collective work as such. What aspects and challenges of collective work are at the center of successively working and living in collective structures? How to deal with responsibilities and trust in collective processes, what are the challenges of artistic creation and creative processes in collective structures? How can traditional relations of dominance and informal hierarchies be overcome in truly post- hierarchical structures of collective work and sharing of responsibilities? These and other related questions were discussed with different researchers, artists and cultural facilitators from Berlin and beyond.
Day #3: COLLECTIVE REFLECTIONS
On the last day of the program, all participating projects and thematic threads came together. In two roundtable conversations, CP participants who had worked on related issues joined together for their evaluations and got into an exchange about their work and approaches
Roundtable on Narratives & Knowledges
Vidisha Fadescha, Marte Roel, Max Folly, Okhiogbe Omonblanks Omonhinmin, Diana Troya & Erkan Affan
Creating narratives as a collective practice, and in particular counter narratives from perspectives marginalized in hegemonic knowledge systems (in different contexts), has been one main thread in the COLLECTIVE PRACTICES program. This roundtable brings together participants who have contributed to this thread, from different perspectives, for an exchange about their approaches and learnings.
Roundtable on Collective Organizing
Aziz Sarr (Freak de l’Afrique) Jon Davies, Good Intentions: Kira & Goro, THF Radio: Ayosha Kortlang, Duygu Ağal, Monibi & The Incredible, Edible Akynos
Organizing collectively — in art, music or activism — is a thread that runs through the projects and work of participants in this roundtable. The conversation extends the thread on ecosystems of creativity to compare notes and approaches to organizing, care and resistance in a collective, situated also in wider social and economic systems.