Aesthetics of the Commons

We are very happy to present our book “Aesthetics of the Commons” as the latest outcome of our research project.

It collects various essays that take up aspects of the cultural and artistic projects our research was based on, and brings them into conversation with different fields ranging from cultural, political and feminist theory, philosophy, curatorial studies, and art education.

What do a feminist server, an art space located in a public park in North London, a ‘pirate’ library of high cultural value yet dubious legal status, and an art school that emphasizes collectivity have in common? They all demonstrate that art can play an important role in imagining and producing a real quite different from what is currently hegemonic; that art has the possibility to not only envision or proclaim ideas in theory, but also to realize them materially.

Aesthetics of the Commons examines a series of artistic and cultural projects – drawn from what can loosely be called the (post)digital—that take up this challenge in different ways. What unites them, however, is that they all have a ‘double character.’ They are art in the sense that they place themselves in relation to (Western) cultural and art systems, developing discursive and aesthetic positions, but, at the same time, they are ‘operational’ in that they create recursive environments and freely available resources whose uses exceed these systems. The first aspect raises questions about the kind of aesthetics that are being embodied, the second creates a relation to the larger concept of the ‘commons.’ In Aesthetics of the Commons, the commons are understood not as a fixed set of principles that need to be adhered to in order to fit a definition, but instead as a ‘thinking tool’ – in other words, the book’s interest lies in what can be made visible by applying the framework of the commons as a heuristic device.

With contributions by Olga Goriunova, Jeremy Gilbert, Judith Siegmund, Daphne Dragona, Magdalena Tyzlik-Carver, Gary Hall, Ines Kleesattel, Sophie Toupin, Rahel Puffert, and Christoph Brunner.

Sollfrank, Cornelia, Felix Stalder, und Shusha Niederberger (eds.) 2021. Aesthetics of the Commons, Zurich: Diaphanes

Softcover, 276 pages
Open Access PDF, 276 pages

Reviews & Interviews:

Gerald Raunig. Kommunisierung der Kunst, 03.2021

Agnieszka Wodzińska. Imagining Possible Worlds with “Aesthetics of the Commons”, March 5,

Jens Kastner. Buchsprechung, springerin. Hefte für Gegenwartskunst, Wien. Heft 2/2021, S. 73.

n.a. Book Review, 8/21

 “Aesthetics, Commons and the Production of the Subject: An Interview with Cornelia Sollfrank and Felix Stalder”, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture 16(1). p.74-81. doi: