Carnegie Mellon University
June 20, 2019

Carnegie Mellon’s Miller ICA Presents "An Atlas of Commoning: Spaces of Collective Production"

By Margaret Cox

Pam Wigley
  • College of Fine Arts
  • 412-268-1047

Carnegie Mellon University’s Miller Institute for Contemporary Art, in collaboration with CMU's School of Architecture, presents “An Atlas of Commoning: Spaces of Collective Production,” June 29 through Sept. 23. The show marks the international premiere of the ifa exhibition’s 10-year tour.

An opening reception will take place from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 29, with workshops from 1 - 5:30 p.m. that afternoon. The exhibit and events are free and open to the public.

Facebook, Airbnb and other companies whose business models are based on the commercialization of social relationships, have transformed words like “community,” “sharing” or “we” into empty concepts that no longer represent solidarity or a progressive social agenda, but rather form the basis for an emerging capitalism platform.  This economic development is accompanied by a global political shift fueled by traditional community notions of identity and affiliation, exclusion and discrimination. Against this background, the exhibition and publication project "An Atlas of Commoning" aims to recapture and redefine the open and emancipatory space of “we” as a concept.

The project focuses on urban commons. In this sense, commons are to be understood as a set of practices dealing with the collective production and management of material and immaterial resources and spaces in general, rather than with the resources themselves, hence “commoning,” the verb, takes center stage. Commoning is a process of dealing with differences and conflicts between the individual, the community and society — a process of spatial organization in the relations between production and reproduction, ownership and access to resources. And a process that brings together solidarity networks and redefines individual and collective rights. The project questions the prevailing social and political structures and seeks new forms of collective, yet pluralistic, governance.

The starting point of the exhibition is an Atlas, a visual archive with a diverse selection of contemporary and historical case studies­. The Atlas, which is being developed by ARCH+, in collaboration with the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon, will consist of 25 projects related to commoning.­ This initial selection is being complemented with new ones, added in collaboration with local partners as the exhibition tours from city to city. As a result, the “Atlas of Commoning” continues to grow as an open knowledge archive, producing an invaluable documentation of local grassroots projects from all over the world.

From the Atlas, the exhibition develops along three axes of investigation, each one illustrating the tension inherent in practices of sharing. The resulting chapters are: Ownership – Access, Production – Reproduction, Right – Solidarity. Artistic works open up further access to the subject. Part of the exhibition is an edition of ARCH+ magazine that delivers a broad insight into important theoretical positions and practical examples. ­ 

The Urban Design program at CMU's School of Architecture is hosting the international premiere of the travelling exhibition after its German premiere in Berlin last year. The Pittsburgh edition of the exhibition includes local practices of commoning and examples of citizen-led urban regeneration. Throughout the summer, a series of workshops, discussions and tours will provide a platform for the exchange of experiences, knowledge and skills about gaining agency in collectively producing the environment and communities we live in. In times of rampant cynicism, An Atlas of Commoning shows there are boundless hopeful alternatives — alternatives that are already in the making all around us. 

Public Events

Opening: Saturday, June 29, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Open Space Workshop: Commoning Pittsburgh, Saturday, June 29, 1 - 5:30 p.m.
Summer Hours: Thursday – Sunday, 12 - 6 p.m.
Regular Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 12 - 6 p.m.

Salon Series: Neither Public, Nor Private
Facilitator, Dana Bishop-Root Supported by The Heinz Endowments
Thursday, July 18, 6 - 8 p.m.

Symposium: Designing for a Commons Transition
A forum for exchange between local and international practices of commoning
Thursday, Sept. 19 – Saturday, Sept. 21

Curatorial team:
Anh-Linh Ngo, Mirko Gatti, Christian Hiller, Max Kaldenhoff, Christine Rüb (ARCH+); Elke aus dem Moore (ifa); Stefan Gruber (CMU)

Research partners:
School of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh and and Technische Universität Berlin, Institute of Architecture, Prof.  Rainer Hehl

Curators of Pittsburgh edition:
Stefan Gruber, Elizabeth Chodos (CMU)