Previously at the ICA - Events

Metahaven, Organic Internet

Lunch Bytes: Society: The Commons

4 Oct 2014

Chaired by curator Helen Kaplinsky, speakers on this panel discussion are artists Stephan Dillemuth, Metahaven, Eleanor Saitta and Julia Tcharfas.

Basia Lewandowska Cummings is unfortunately no longer able to participate.

This panel looks at the ‘commons’, a concept that has gained attention in recent debates on online culture, as well as cultural production more generally. In its original meaning the term ‘commons’ refers to land that is open for collective use. In today’s art world, the commons is often used in reference to spaces and practices that are shared by groups aiming to resist commodification and forge an existence outside the capital-driven art market.

Turning to online culture and its history, it is possible to see a significant shift in how networked environments have been perceived as common spaces, from the 1990s ideal of a democratic cyberspace, to a current understanding of the web as a commercial and enclosed space. Looking at these developments, this panel examines the consequences of on- and off-line spaces of cultural production becoming increasingly privately-owned and subject to corporate and government control. Departing from this condition, this discussion examines alternative ways to collectively manage resources for artistic production. Furthermore, it will discuss the value of ‘the commons’ in relationship to the widely-shared experience of precarity, as public funding for the arts erodes and entrepreneurial strategies appear to govern both the arts and the current online environment.

Lunch Bytes: Society: The Commons

Helen Kaplinsky is an independent curator based in London. Her Fellowship with the Contemporary Art Society culminated in the exhibition Damn braces: Bless relaxes, at Whitechapel Gallery and MIMA  (2013/14). The research focused on English 19th century landscape painting, during the height of enclosure of common land and related this to concepts of freedom and liberalism via William Blake, the online derive of Heath Bunting, privatisation during the Thatcher era and Oliver Laric's use of collaborative commons. She is currently working on #temporararycustodians, an R&D project considering how the shift towards a share economy will transform our institutional collection and philanthropy model.

Stephan Dillemuth teaches at Munich's Academy of Fine Arts and he has shown internationally, including at Bergen Assembly, Bergen, 2013;  Secession, Vienna, 2012; Manifesta 8, Murcia, 2010; Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, 2010; Galerie für Landschaftskunst, Hamburg, 2009; Reena Spaulings Fine Art, 2008; Galerie Christian Nagel, Köln, 2007; American Fine Arts, Co., New York, 2000; Friesenwall 120, 1990/94; and Sommerakademie Kunstverein München, Munich, 1990.

Metahaven is a studio for design and research, founded by Vinca Kruk and Daniel van der Velden. Metahaven's work, both commissioned and self-directed, reflects political and social issues in collaboratively produced graphic design objects. Metahaven released Uncorporate Identity, a book on politics and visual identity, published by Lars Müller in 2010. Solo exhibitions include Affiche Frontière, CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux, 2008; Stadtstaat, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart/Casco, 2009; Islands in the Cloud, MoMA PS1, New York, 2013; and Black Transparency, Bureau Europa, Maastricht, 2013.

Eleanor Saitta is a hacker, designer, artist, writer, and barbarian.  She makes a living and a vocation of understanding how complex, transdisciplinary systems operate and redesigning them to work, or at least fail, better.  Among other things, Eleanor is a co-founder of the Trike project, Technical Director at the International Modern Media Institute, a member of the advisory boards at the Freedom of the Press Foundation and Geeks Without Bounds, a contributor to the Briar project, and freelance security architecture and strategy consultant. She is nomadic and lives mostly in airports and occasionally in New York, London, and Stockholm.

Julia Tcharfas (b. 1982, Donetsk) is currently working as the assistant curator of Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age at The Science Museum, London. A significant part of her work is an ongoing collaborative practice with artist and researcher Tim Ivison. Recent London projects include Systems Learning from the Inside, Chisenhale Gallery; Recent Work By Artists, Auto Italia; and Render, Hilary Crisp Gallery (all 2013).

Lunch Bytes is a series of four public discussions over the course of a year, which examine the consequences of the increasing ubiquity of digital networked technologies in relation to artistic practice. Each event is dedicated to a different topic and brings together European artists, media scholars, designers, curators and intellectuals.

Watch the previous two Lunch Bytes discussions on Youtube →

Organised in collaboration with Arcadia Missa; Digital Culture Unit, Goldsmiths, University of London; and the Goethe Institut, this series is part of a larger European project conceived by Melanie Buehler and the Goethe-Institut in Northwest Europe, comprising events in London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Dublin, which will culminate with a symposium in Berlin in 2015.

In collaboration with


E.g., 22-06-2018
E.g., 22-06-2018