Black Swan

Penny Rafferty, Laura Lotti, Calum Bowden, Leïth Benkhedda
Right: Black Swan | © Julien Gremaud

Right: Black Swan | © Julien Gremaud

Black Swan | © Julien Gremaud

Black Swan | © Julien Gremaud

The Communes, organised by KW Berlin in 2021, was a 36-hour hackathon, which questioned the emotional sustainability of different economic models and organisational forms. The Communes invited 32 participants to join through a role-playing mechanism, one of four communes each based on different modes of exchange, decision-making processes, and organisational structures: the Clan, the Guild, the Cult and the Venture. The learnings from the hackathon went on to inform the development of Black Swan DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation), an open-source toolkit for artistic collectives. To conclude the hackathon, institutionally pledged infrastructural resources were distributed to cultural practitioners through a quadratic voting application called Cygnet which was created in a previous working group by Black Swan.

Art resources were generously staked by Light Art Space, 221A, Callie’s, Curve Labs, Ed Fornieles Studio, Folia, Jaya Klara Brekke, Benjamin Bratton, Kei Kreutler, Kunstverein München, New Models, Ben Vickers, Ruth Catlow, Trust and KW Institute for Contemporary Art. 221A (Vancouver/Unceded Territories) has established a DFO (decentralised fluid organization) as a silent stakeholder, with financial and research partners, including the Goethe-Institut Toronto.

Established in 2018, Black Swan is a Berlin-based collective pursuing horizontal and decentralised approaches to the traditional art world templates for art making. Through peer support, artist-led funding and community organising, they place resources into the hands of the users rather than the gatekeepers of the arts. Black Swan is developing digital toolkits for artists through a methodology that puts play at the centre. Existing communities of creative practitioners are invited to test and experiment with forms of interaction, modes of organisation and sustainable economic models in role-playing events, working groups and hackathons. Through play, Black Swan is building an open-source and interoperable protocol for artistic communes, enabling collaborative institutional forms and allowing for a redefinition of what art can be. Launching in 2023, the Black Swan DAO aims to become a translocal and mutable source for distributing resources and value differently across interdependent art worlds. Black Swan is currently maintained by Laura Lotti, Penny Rafferty, Calum Bowden and Leïth Benkhedda.
Black Swan has previously worked with or presented at: MoneyLab Berlin, The Serpentine Galleries, Goethe-Institut London, Furtherfield Gallery, AND Festival 2021, 221A, Trust Berlin, Berlin Art Week and KW Institute for Contemporary Art.

Twitter: @blackswan_dao


The Communes, 2021. Originally commissioned by KW Institute for Contemporary Art