VAGARIES OF THE COMMONS


curated by Sarah Fritchey
July 25 – September 13, 2014
Opening Reception on Friday, July 25 @ 5:00 – 8:00 pm
A two-day conference on September 12 & 13 and a performance series will accompany the exhibition.

I have collaborated with Dr. Gary Aronsen Ph.D (Research Associate, Anthropology Laboratories at Yale University) in installing my 3 channel projection and sculptural pieces of Shrine of the Common & Undivided Land with his research addressing the bodies found under the Lincoln Oak Tree  after its fall on October 31, 2012 on the New Haven Green. This installation is divided between this exhibit and the one currently showing at the New Haven Museum in the Nothing is Set in Stone

Nothing_IsSetIn_Stone_Show_Flyer

Artists and contributors include: Brad Armstrong, Ricardo Miranda and Brooke SingerLani Asuncion and Gary Aronsen; Mengyu ChenThe Elm City Dance CollectiveJason Friedes; Focus Lessness (Michael Romano and Milton Laüfer), Occupy New HavenPhil LiqueProject Storefronts;Scott Shuldt; and Under 91 Project. 
Projects that are a part of the exhibition include:

  • “I’m Open Come On In” by focuslessness, a daily take over of the Artspace sandwich board. View images from the project, here.
  • Artist Phil Lique is taking over the Artspace homepage each day, view the project here
  • The Excess Project presents a series of posters about excuses people give about not composting (designed by Jerome Harris) here.

The concept of “the commons” predates the feudal era in early Germanic and Roman settlements, where communal land ownership prevailed.  Originally, the concept referred to the public’s interest and right to access essential natural resources that are held in common and not owned privately, including land, water, animals and fish.  Gradually, as royalty and then a central government gained power, the notion of communal land ownership disappeared and the concept of “the commons” evolved.

This exhibition presents a group of artists, based in and around greater New Haven, who make works that operate within the penumbras and cracks of the legal systems that oversee its “commons”.  These grey zones are the flexible and the often vague environments from which the show’s title takes its inspiration.

The show identifies four specific sectors and human rights questions addressed by artists practicing in and around New Haven.  These include: the material commons (who has the right to order the build and name structures, homes, cities, maps?), the knowledge commons (who has access higher education, public libraries, the internet?), the aesthetic commons (who has the right to define and control image production?) and the affective commons (how are emotions policed and kept public/private?).  The essential question that each work asks is: who has the right to have a voice?

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