: Commoning Times [September, 2014]

Commoning Times at Järvafältet

[Commoning Times at Järvafältet 2014]

Summer 2014 artist and researcher Erik Sjödin arranged two excursions and reading gatherings in Stockholm together with Commoning Times, an initiative by artists Rene Gabri and Ayreen Anastas from 16 Beaver Group in New York who visited Tensta konsthall and Iaspis in Stockholm.

“Commoning Times is a speculative name for thoughts, practices, and unnamable, undefinable experiences which bring us closer to an understanding or experience of the common(s). It is a site to open a space/time for thinking/living the common(s). A space/time to have contact with the ground of the common(s).

Breaking the stranglehold of the categories of public and private over the contemporary political imaginary is one of the critical dimensions of the various emergent discourses, practices and struggles of/for a common(s). Rather than see common(s) as a subject matter, it can be a starting point for thinking new relations and possibilities for the use of space and time.”

Järvafältet is a large natural and cultural reserve situated in between some of the most multicultural and segregated neighbourhoods in Stockholm. In connection to the excursion at Järvafältet Erik suggested that we read and discuss Nature as Community by Giovanna Di Chiro. This is a text that Erik found particularly relevant while working with the farm Hästa gård on Järvafältet and the project A Farm on The Countryside in The City. The text points towards an idea of community that is inclusive rather than excluding by introducing the idea of “unity in difference” rather than “unity in sameness”.

Commoning Times at Runmarö

[Commoning Times at Runmarö 2014]

The second excursion went to Runmarö, an island in the Stockholm archipelago. Runmarö is an island with many year-round inhabitants, but it’s only accessible by boat and there are no cars on the island. On Runmarö we met with the author Helena Granström, who had suggested that we read and discuss Nature and Madness by Paul Shepard. An essay influential to her decision to move out of the city.

On both Järvafältet and Runmarö we also discussed the Swedish concept of “allemansrätten”, “the right of the commons”. Allemansrätten is a set of rules (but not always laws) that regulates what is allowed and not allowed to do outdoors. For example it regulates that anyone may pick berries and mushrooms freely, even in a private forest, but you are not allowed to break branches from trees or in other ways destroy the forest. You also have the right to walk across any private property and to tent for a couple of nights on another person property, as long as you stay out of sight from houses and don’t disturb anyone. It also regulates that you have the right to access any shoreline and that most bridges and wharfs can’t be private, although many people try to claim both shores and bridges as private.