I would like to talk about issues of property and alternative modes ownerships through the notion of the Common, and a particular history of the term. In the UK the term designates common land, that might belong to somebody but over which other people can exercise traditional rights. The Common supports a certain inhabitation of the public sphere which not only based in property but on use.
Through the support structure project the common as been an important tool of support- explored through ‘in support of politics: greenham common’, a project which set to revive common ownership as a social act towards a piece of land heavily loaded with a history of protest. In this situation, rights need to be supported and put into action: the exercize of civic society. While the project was aiming at asking and defining what may be notions of support for politics and democratic supports, commoners rights became the focus and hinge point for such a premise, the meeting point of individual appropriations as articulations of rights and rights of custom making space for alternative modes of inhabitation of the public sphere.
…read more :
Older texts use the word "common" to denote any rights of use, but more modern usage is to refer to particular rights of common, and to reserve the name "common" for the land over which these rights are exercised. By extension, the term "commons" has come to be applied to other resources which a community has rights or access to. Common land, an English development, was used extensively in England and Wales and in many former British colonies, for example in Ireland and the USA. Today commons still exist in England, Wales, Scotland and USA, although their extent is much reduced from the millions of acres that existed prior to the 17th century and the “enclosures”. Commons are a subset of public goods; specifically meaning a public good which is not finite. Commons can therefore be land, rivers and, arguably, money. The Commons is most often a finite but replenishable resource, which requires responsible use in order to remain available.
Support structure through the project ‘Common Use’, worked in Greenham Common in 2004, a place with a specific history of political turmoil.
After 60 years of military control, Greenham Common has only recently been restored to a state of common land. As such Greenham Heath is open to the general public, while those with 'commoners rights' may graze their animals, take gravel, cut turf and collect firewood and exercize other rights of use. In 1941 the land was requisitioned by the Air Ministry as a military base, home first to British squadrons and then the American Air force. In 1981, the US Army infamously deployed nuclear missiles on the site, which sparked 10 years of anti-nuclear and peace demonstrations by various women's groups. The site was opened to the public in 2000 and is now managed for Wildlife by West Berkshire Council as a site of special scientific interest' (SSSI).
‘Common Use’ was part of this shift, and questioned the relationship of the Common to the surrounding communities of Greenham, Newbury and Thatcham. It participated in the updating of the commoners Act and posted them around the area to encourage rambling and thus a renewed ownership of the land. Common Use played on planning and advertising language, and notions of publicity to promote public awareness and provoke a less passive use of the land. A large billboard with a new slogan for Greenham Common formed the heart of the project. The Act was a prompt for the new slogan. The billboard was constructed on the former base's control tower, the Common's most visible feature. As one of the few tangible remains of the land's past, the Control Tower was pinpointed as a destination for ramblers. Smaller notices announcing the proposed Act were posted around the whole Greenham, Newbury and Thatcham area. Walking was proposed as a social act understood in terms of both the flaneur's observation of the city and the rambler's pursuit of pleasure. The ‘Common Use’ project worked primarily with the verb ‘commoning’.
Commonners first of all respect the law of the land- as opposed to the law of the sovereign, it designates rights that are imbedded in a particular ecology with its local husbandry (The raising of livestock and the cultivation of crops; agriculture; The prudent management or conservation of resources).
‘Commoning is embedded in a labour process; it inheres in a particular praxis of field, upland, forest, marsh, coast. Common rights are entered into by labor. Commoning is collective, and independent form the state, and of the temporality of law and state. Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forests did not list rights, it granted perpetuities.’
From the Magna Carta Manifesto, Peter Linebaugh
Commoning is an agriculture system of open fields- to be maintained through custom and tradition, without precise boundaries or records. Waste produced by the common (in the form of fuel, food and material) makes commoners of those without land.
'Support Structures' is a research project that uses 'support' as a proposition to tackle issues of articulation, representation and blindness (social, historical or fictional). Support is here to be inderstood as a practice based on generosity, which invites readings and inhabitations of relationships between power structures, social realities and institutional forms. Support occurs in the interstices of cultural structures or society, in its ad-hoc formations and encounters, which makes it sometimes hard to recognize, as it takes up a position of interfacing and organization, and as such inevitably recedes in the background; it is a practice of weakness and negotiation. Support is based on generosity; It is critical, but is not a category in itself as it can be applied and work across and over other categories. Support can be defined as a type of relationship between people, objects, social forms and political structures, in the same way that participation, or conflict, are other forms of relations; each proposes a specific mode of operation, language of operation and opens towards further relations. Support however, promotes particular investigations in how we might work together towards change, and becomes critical in allowing a form of political imagination to take place, both as a position and a practice; it invites readings and inhabitations of relationships between power structures, social realities and institutional forms.'Support Structures' takes its lead from the project and ongoing collaboration ‘Support Structure’, with Artist-Curator Gavin Wade, which looks at the systems and structures conditioning how we inhabit our environment. Can we understand spatial practice as a form of support? If a practice’s agenda is to support then it can be defined as a form of interface towards the making of place, which does not produce objects but relationships to context. This project addresses questions for the art and architecture community, on forms of display, organisation, appropriation, dependency and temporariness; it defines spatial practice as a form of political imagination.
//// /// /// ///// // / /// /// / ////// // / ////