Tomorrow the Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrč and collaborators officially launch a new exhibition, “The Commons,” in The Hague. The artwork consists of the remnants of an old dune forest and a modernist office tower built in 1969 that is nearby. You might wonder, This is the commons?!
As the flyer for the exhibit notes, the exhibition “takes the two sites – one of part of nature, the other a cultural artifact – and mirrors them by constructing a platform in the woods that is the same size as the footprint of the tower. This physical platform is intended as a conceptual platform for the exchange of knowledge by participants and visitors to the exhibition. From April to August  workshops lectures, fairs and an open public court on topics related to the common interest and the local environment such as sustainability, peace and justice will be programmed. Together with visitors and locals alike The Commons [will] experiment and work out ideas for the functioning of a ‘commons’ in current times.”
I haven’t visited the site, but it strikes me a bold, provocative work. By dramatizing the commons in a very physical way, and connecting it to the past while pointing to a future that we must build ourselves, the exhibit helps us to engage with the idea of the commons as a living social organism. What’s especially exciting about this project is that it may lead to an actual conversion of an empty office tower into a local commons!