12.06.                      18.06.2023

Workshop: Beyond Wishful Thinking

Communitarian Living, Intentional communities, and Sustainable Togetherness as spatial strategies for radical (feminist) politics

From June 12th to June 18th Villa Romana created a 1-week workshop of radical pedagogy dedicated to learning while practicing models of commoning and ‘communing’ that aim to be ecologically sustainable and socially just. Upon an invitation of Elena Agudio and Paz Guevara, and of the Villa Romana Fellow Samuel Baah Kortey, the workshop brought together students from the Master Programme in Spatial Strategies from Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin and students from the Kumasi College of Art, K.N.U.S.T. in Ghana connecting the practices of two art schools.

On the one hand, the Kumasi College of Art K.N.U.S.T. has developed as an ‘Emancipatory Art Teaching Project’, which led to a series of multigenerational collectives and exhibitions that prioritised a dynamic, democratic approach, creating a web of affiliated projects and collectives throughout Ghana with the focus on developing a sustainable, critical and tenacious post-Western local art scene. On the other hand, the Master Programme in Spatial Strategies from Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin tackles the necessity to reconsider the concepts of “space” and “publicness” in a world that is drastically transforming under the effects of globalisation, and to expand the scope of artistic practices in the social context.

At Villa Romana both student communities, and their respective experimental practices that rethink and reimagine collective agency and space, were welcomed to meet for a workshop that is conceived as a common space. By drawing upon scholarly and practice-based research, the workshop scrutinized spatial strategies to conceive, design, and implement alternatives to the current systems and structures of overconsumption, to unlearn exploitation and exercise greater responsibility towards the ecological crisis and the urgent climate justice agenda of our time. It did so while addressing possibilities of unfolding autonomous learning communities, enabling those radical pedagogies that could get us better equipped to navigate and get out of the capitalistic ruins of our time:  exercises based on “practices of dreaming together, enacting political therapies, storytelling, performing radical tenderness, attempting to build a gender-queer language, practicing intersectional solidarity, sharing our food and our stories, self-building social spaces, and analyzing the erased role of women and other marginalized subjects in social movement”, as Manish Jain and Alessandra Pomarico state in Pedagogy, Otherwise. 1

Therefore, the workshop aimed to work Beyond Wishful Thinking by studying concrete forms of spatial strategies of communitarian living, intentional communities, and sustainable togetherness, such as ‘ Squats, community gardens, and kitchens, co-housing, and ‘various forms of barter, mutual aid [and] alternative forms of health care2. At the same time, the workshop Beyond Wishful Thinking was a concrete experience of cohabitation, as a radical pedagogy affiliated to the theory/practice of radical (feminist) politics. It was conceived as a co-inhabitated course, with practitioners, teachers, and students implementing practices of sustainable togetherness beyond wishful thinking. From historical intentional communities such as Womyn’s Land, the all-female communes that offered a safe haven for abused women, to artistic settlements such as Himmelhof or the heterogeneous community of utopians, vegetarians, naturists, theosophists of Monte Verità, to communitarian pedagogical experiment such as Ciudad Abierta in Valparaiso, and self-organized cooperatives like the one of Somankidi Coura in Mali, to some of the most vibrant contemporary radical art and community projects such as  blaxTARLINES (Kumasi, Ghana), this course surveyed communitarian living as alternative civic strategies for living politically otherwise. It considered historical and geographical examples to scale up the problem of living collectively, beyond nuclear family models, from the very concrete to the philosophically existential conundrum of how to live together.
In the context of the workshop and co-habitation, artist Ibrahim Mahama was invited for a keynote lecture under the title: The Quagrey Effect and the Precarius Gift.


1 Alessandra Pomarico and Manish Jain, “Radical Pedagogies as Living Experiments and Messy Affairs“
In Pedagogy, Otherwise (25/27), 04.06.2018.
They continue: Learning is painful, but/and we keep walking even when the discourse of identity politics, for example, puts at risk the capacity for trust and reciprocity, making our possible coalitions shake, and our politics of hopes, our politics of care, our politics of possibility an almost impossible horizon to share…a lot was happening and a lot had to happen. These informal, radical collective      learning environments are as poetic as they are fragile, as generative as they are invisible, as powerful as they are vulnerable. A lot of care, attention, presence and dedication is required.

2 Federici, S (2012a). Bollier, D and Helfrich, S eds.  „Feminism and the Politics of the Commons. The Wealth of the Commons.” Amherst: The Commons Strategies Group.

The Villa Romana e.V. maintains the Villa Romana and the Villa Romana Prize.
The main sponsor is the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.
Other sponsors are the Deutsche Bank Foundation, the BAO Foundation as well as - project related - numerous private individuals, companies and foundations from all over the world.

Villa Romana e.V. is supported by: