The Common Sense

The Common Sense, Phase 1

New York-based artist Melanie Gilligan’s largest project to date, The Common Sense takes the form of a sci-fi mini-series which looks at how minds, bodies, and interpersonal relations are shaped by technological advancements within capitalism. This experimental narrative drama tells a story that revolves around a future technology which allows one to directly experience another person’s bodily sensations and affect. Gilligan draws upon a feminist sci-fi tradition that includes the work of writers Octavia E. Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin in which sci-fi is used as a means for both critiquing a social order and proposing a different vision. The story is also influenced by recent social movements and riots across the world responding to the “permanent crisis” of capitalism.

This series is the first co-commission by three institutions in the Netherlands of a single work by an artist. This November, December and January, it is presented sequentially in overlapping exhibitions with different episodes opening at Casco in Utrecht, De Hallen Haarlem, and de Appel arts centre in Amsterdam, creating a nomadic viewing experience through which to see the entire work.

As Research assistant in Casco, I was given the opportunity to participate in the entire process of the project, being an active part of both the production of the sci-fi mini-series and the configuration of the display of the exhibition.