Anthropology Beyond Capitalism

Massimiliano Mollona


A radical and original book showing how art can provide both practices of communing and a language of anti-capitalist critique.

Can art provide a critique of political economy? This question, originally formulated by the romantic philosophers John Ruskin and William Morris, continues to be at the core of contemporary anti-capitalist and post-colonial struggles. As art and culture feed an urban rentierism based on gentrification, mass-tourism and hyper-consumption, art commons are radicalizing urban politics across the globe through new political and artistic practices.

Art/Commons is the first book to theorise the commons from the perspectives of contemporary art history and anthropology, focusing on the ongoing tensions between art and capitalism. Massimiliano Mollona’s study is grounded in an analysis of contemporary artistic and curatorial practices, which the author describes as practices of commoning, based on co-production, participation, mutualism and the valorization of reproductive labour. Art/Commons gives stimulating first-person accounts of five projects the author conducted at the intersection of art, activism and pedagogy, ranging from participatory film projects in Brazil, Norway and the UK to his directorship of the Athens Biennale. Mollona proposes a novel theoretical approach to current debates on the commons, and shows that art can provide both a language of anti-capitalist and post-colonial critique as well as a distinctive set of skills and practices of commoning.

Author Bio

Massimiliano Mollona is a writer, filmmaker and anthropologist with a multidisciplinary background in economics and anthropology. Mollona has been the director of the Athens Biennale (2015-17), one of the artistic directors of the Bergen Assembly (2017); co-founder of the Laboratory for the Urban Commons (LUC) based in Athens and the initiator of the ongoing project Institute of Radical Imagination (IRI). He is currently a senior lecturer in anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Part I: Anthropology, Art and Political Economy
    • 1. The Allure of Abstraction
    • 2. Labour, Art and Slavery
    • 3. Art and Commoning: A Short History
  • Part II: Projects
    • 4. Participatory Films
    • 5. Curatorial Projects
    • 6. Institute of Radical Imagination
  • Conclusion


Publication Date: 20 May 2021
208 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781786996992
Hardback: 9781786996985
eBook ePub: 9781786997005
eBook Kindle: 9781786997029

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