Commonplace Conference / ACT 2

The Commonplace Conferences Series is a collaboration of artists, scholars, writers, poets, and others who contribute to an annual colloquium on open-ended topics expanded through events and creative works. Initiated in 1986 by 'The Commonplace Conference on Place', the second event moves to the theme of 'the commons/commune'. Propose and direct an intervention, participate in on-going projects, or come to enjoy the discussions, films, and presentations.

Who: The Commonplace Conference consortium is a volunteer group; roles are shared; there is no fixed managerial structure. Events are designed collaboratively and anarchically and coordinated by a wobbly center. Anyone with an idea can use the developer form or simply outline the basic idea and send it to

Where: Events for 2011 are coordinated around facilities in and between Boalsburg and State College, Pennsylvania. Future sessions at remote locations are contemplated.

When: Events span a two-week period in the summer, usually middle or late June to July. Films and presentations are concentrated at the end of the conference weeks.

What: A film series (some outdoor dinner screenings), a petcha-kutcha 'opens', poetry readings, interviews, round-table conversations, and musical events accompany installations, exhibits, and performance art.The theme for this conference, 'the common/commons/commune', has implications for theory, film, performance, and other projects designed to discover 'the news from nowhere'.

Contact: Don Kunze, for information about participation and contribution to the second commonplace conference on common/commons/commune.


Academy Street Summer Backyard Films

For 15 years, thematic film series have been shown outdoors at 204 S. Academy Street in Boalsburg, accompanied by potluck dinners. This series will be 'thickened' for the commonplace conference by running during the nights of the symposium as a the main social event. Films will focus on the symposium theme of common(s)/commune.

Pecha Kucha

Pecha Kucha (pronounced pe-CHECK-u-cha) is the invention of two architects working in Tokyo. The Japanese expression means ‘chit-chat’ but the idea has been translated into a popular form of presenting ideas in quick succession. In the classic form, there are 20 ‘slides’, each lasting 20 seconds. A presenter typically narrates for 6 minutes, 40 seconds. Our version asks presenters to prepare remarks lasting 6:40 but the ‘slide’ images will be made up for them, independently. The idea is to disconnect the text from the images, allowing each to talk to the other without the ‘caption’ functionality. Participants can contribute images and present texts, but there will be no correlation during the actual presentation. Read over the suggestions, contribute a presentation, text, or images.


Propose a topic, select participants, organize a discussion on some aspect of the common(s)/commune. You get to call the shots, within reason. It is also helpful if you see to the welfare of any out-of-town guests and arrange for the session's audio-visual needs, if any. Try to keep it low-tech. Inteviews are also good.

cy twombly


The space-transforming ability of works of art will be deployed to find unusual temporary locations for solicited works of art. Following the Constructivist practice of 'building' works of flat and 3-d art to turn corners and embellish thresholds, works of art will seek out marginal sites where durability and ephemerality battle it out. As per Cy Twombly's incorporation of texts into the canvas, writing that is one step above (below?) graffiti will be encouraged as well. Participants may contribute art works (various media) or 'sites' (this includes 'hanging the show' and taking political/legal responsibility.

Levitation, Foundation Rites, Gateways to the Underworld

It is a New Orleans tradition to leave offerings at unmarked tombs to establish a gateway to the underworld, the traditional channel for requests for change and support. Three x's are employed to call forth lazy spirits to step up and do their duty. This category of conference activity is devoted to performance art that is aimed to make a similar kind of intervention, based on the customs and procedures of divination required for the foundation of cities and buildings and the protection of graves. Magic acts are invited, particularly when the performance involves convincing theatricality.