Arts Collaboratory is an ecosystem of twenty-five like-minded organizations situated predominantly in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, all of whom are focused on collective governance. The organizations engage in expanded artistic and curatorial practices for social change, as well as sustainability practices in their respective contexts, with the aim of being effective in and beyond the field of art. The network operates as an active ecosystem, where knowledge and strengths are brought together and harvested in processes of collective organization. It is a radical experiment in exploring the potentiality of art and social transformation when the experiences, dreams, and critical reflections of cultural practitioners from across the globe are allowed to meet.
Founded in 2007 and currently in its third phase of life, the network strives for horizontality among members. Each of the participating organizations commits to common ethical principles and contributes to the ecosystem’s health by way of translocal triangles made up of three organizations. An annual assembly for collective decision-making and knowledge exchange is hosted rotationally by the members. Otherwise the ecosystem regenerates itself through collective projects and small-scale meetings called Bangas, which are based on a “call for gathering” for friendship, reciprocal support, collective study on a particular subject/issue, and tooling. Arts Collaboratory is a place for self-care and working in common across territories to form a community of solidarity based on mutualism, empathy, and vulnerability. The aim of unlearning capital- and productivity-driven working methods is central to the way the network thinks but also lives. Instead of filing reports, members participate in collective and consistent study practices that prioritize process and openness over success.
These principles are given form in collaborative artistic projects that range from residencies, exchanges, and curatorial enquiry, to grassroots action and co-publications across the ecosystem. Such projects create tools that allow for new channels of creation and “radical imagination” beyond geographic, political, and linguistic divides.