Mapping the Commons of Rio de Janeiro

The recurrent concept of the commons elaborates on the same idea, that is, that in nowadays world the production of wealth and social life are heavily dependent on communication, cooperation, affects and collective creativity. The commons would be, then, those milieux of shared resources, that are generated by the participation of the many and multiple, which constitute, some would say, the essential productive fabric of the 21st Century metroplis. And then, if we make this connection between commons and production, we have to think of political economy; power, rents and conflict.

However, due to our tradition of the private and the public, of property and individualism, the commons are still hard to see for our late 20th Century eyes. We propose, therefore, a search for the commons; a search that will take the form of a mapping process. We understand mapping, of course, as proposed by Deleuze and Guattari, and as artists and social astivists have been using it during the last decade, as a performance that can become a reflection, a work of art, a social action.

Rio de Janeiro, a city branded as “the marvellous city” has probably one of the most exuberant assets for natural and cultural commons in world. Those commons are disputed in a metropolis of enormous inequality and historically under state of exception.

Present days where the city is going to host mega events as the World Cup and the Olympic Games, where conflicts of housing evictions flourish in many areas, where protests that began last june have pointed to the mobility as a common and the right to the city, have opened an excellent opportunity for a political discussion on the urban commons.