Black Swan: The Communes


Start: 27 August 2021, 16:00h
Estimated duration 36 hours participation
Application closed


In English


<p>Image: Courtesy Black Swan</p>

Image: Courtesy Black Swan


Can interdependence be at the foundation of sustainable economic models for art making? What does sustainability mean in a world of flux? What happens when we consider the emotional involvement in art making as an active component in resource distribution and the creation of the value of art? And ultimately how does Art survive, evolve, or become remodeled as history melts into a perpetual present?


KW Institute for Contemporary Art invites Black Swan to run a 36-hour hackathon, as part of the public program of Disproof Does Not Equal Disbelief by Michael Stevenson. In the exhibition, Stevenson painstakingly addresses the juncture of economy, technology, education, religion, architecture and media, and the entanglement of these institutions, by reflecting on significant micro-narratives. A live-TV marathon charity fundraising event a.k.a. a telethon appears as a key reference to stress the questionable relationship between the individual and larger overarching bodies, as well as the kayfabe (or: staged) logic of our lived reality. If something is constructed, it means it can be deconstructed, reconsidered, remodeled and redistributed too.


To put these thoughts into further practice, the Berlin-based collective Black Swan will test the emotional sustainability of different economic models and organizational forms, and directly redistribute institutional infrastructural resources to cultural practitioners. The role-playing activity of The Communes invites 32 participants to join one of four communes each based around different modes of exchange, decision-making process, and organizational structure: the Clan, the Guild, the Cult and the Venture. Participants will be recruited through a public open-call and assigned to one of the communes. The learnings from the hackathon will inform the development of Black Swan DAO, an open-source tool-kit for artistic collectives.


During the 36-hour period, each commune will test the boundaries between individual and collective practice as they manage a set of real art resources that have been generously staked by Black Swan’s Silent Stakeholders: Light Art Space, 221A, Callie’s, Curve Labs, Ed Fornieles Studio, Folia, Jaya Klara Brekke, Benjamin Bratton, Kei Kreutler, Kunstverein München, New Models, Ben Vickers, Ruth Catlow, Trust, and KW Institute for Contemporary Art. 221A (Vancouver/Unceded Territories) has established a DFO (decentralized fluid organization) as a silent stakeholder, with financial and research partners, including the Goethe-Institut Toronto.


The Communes are tasked with deciding the best use of the resources they have been assigned within the constraints of their economic model and organizational form. They will have to build on what they have or trade and negotiate with others. Each commune will devise sustainable roadmaps for their future endeavors which will manifest after the hackathon as real-world effects as they make use of their resources.


The resources kindly pledged by Black Swan’s Silent Stakeholders include: microgrants for artistic research & development of up to €8.000,00 from external parties, exhibition space and technical support, residency space outside of Berlin for up to 12 people, studio and rehearsal space, mentorship from experts on the day of the hackathon, features on digital events and exhibition platforms, desk space for 3 months, a digital residency, liquidity for NFT minting, and an NFT exhibition and sale. These resources will be delivered to the communes after the hackathon in order for them to complete their proposed work.


About Black Swan


Established in 2018, Black Swan is a Berlin-based collective pursuing horizontal and decentralized approaches to the traditional art world templates for art making. Through peer support, artist-led funding and community organizing, they place resources into the hands of the users rather than the gatekeepers of the arts.


Black Swan is developing digital toolkits for artists through a methodology that puts play at the center. Existing communities of creative practitioners are invited to test and experiment with forms of interaction, modes of organization, and sustainable economic models in role-playing events, working groups, and hackathons. Through play, Black Swan is building an open-source and interoperable protocol for artistic communes, which will enable collaborative institutional forms and allow for a redefinition of what art can be. Launching in 2022, the Black Swan DAO aims to become a translocal and mutable source for distributing resources and value differently across interdependent art worlds.


Light Art Space partners with the Black Swan DAO initiative as a platform that engages the arts and its community. The partnership will enable the development of digital toolkits through an app that would put forth new ways of working together.


Black Swan is currently maintained by Laura Lotti, Penny Rafferty, Calum Bowden, and Leïth Benkhedda.


Black Swan has previously worked with or presented at: MoneyLab Berlin, The Serpentine Galleries, Goethe-Institut London, Furtherfield Gallery, AND Festival 2021, 221A, Trust Berlin, Berlin Art Week and KW Institute for Contemporary Art.