Beyond Cultures of Ownership: Emerging Strategies for Interdependence

Somerset House, Lancaster Rooms, New Wing Friday 3 November 2023, 9am - 8pm Free Donate today

This day-long gathering invites attendees to explore and strategise how art and culture can play an active part in reconfiguring ownership.*

*Please note that applications to attend the conference have now closed. Keynotes will be available online after the event. Sign up for the Arts Technologies newsletter to follow this ongoing research into new ownership models. If your application was successful, visit the Eventbrite for further details.

How can art and culture help reshape our understanding of ownership? Serpentine Arts Technologies in collaboration with RadicalxChange, Dark Matter Labs and Somerset House Studios invite artists, activists, researchers, technologists and policymakers active and interested in connecting the dots between cultural production, political economies and systems change. If ‘ownership’ is one of the underlying power dynamics of our times that can either create or block possibilities for rebalancing our relationship with technology, the planet, and one another, what new alliances and experiments are necessary to shift beyond it? By creating a space for sharing across different contexts, the day will be dedicated to collectively sketching out new imaginaries and practices for more plural and relational protocols for interdependence

Beyond Cultures of Ownership will run in (un)conference style, which allows for emergent agenda-setting and deep exchanges between participants. Improbable – a theatre company who specialise in using a process called Open Space Technology (OST) – have been invited to facilitate this conversation. OST is a simple way for groups of people to think, work and take action together around a shared concern. There is no set agenda and you decide what to discuss. You are free to move between conversations in a single session depending on what interests you. You can read more about Improbable and Open Space here.

The day will begin and end with contributions that draw from multiple areas of contemporary thinking and practice, and which are meant to inspire participant-led Open Space sessions. Presentations will be shared by artists, policy and technology researchers, activists and social innovators: Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, Adrienne Buller, Hilary Cottam, Holly Herndon & Mat Dryhurst, Indi Johar, Divya Siddarth, and Sam Sivapragasam. Their provocations will provide a set of common references to explore the role of the arts alongside the legal, political, cultural, and ethical assumptions that underpin ownership.

The hosts’ hope is for participants to walk away feeling part of a new community creatively re-imagining the legal, cultural, and ethical assumptions that underpin ownership. Follow-up opportunities announced during the event will facilitate continuous engagement and collaborations to help these ideas evolve and operationalise.

The event is supported by Arts Council England, Berggruen Institute, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Omidyar Network and Rockefeller Foundation.



RadicalxChange is a global movement for next-generation political economies. It is committed to advancing plurality, equality, community, and decentralisation through upgrading democracy, markets, the data economy, commons, and identity. RxC connects people from all walks of life – ranging from social scientists and technologists to artists and activists. 

Serpentine Arts Technologies

Serpentine Arts Technologies operates as an integrated programme for artistic and organisational experimentation. The programme supports artists in developing ambitious artworks that deploy advanced technologies as a medium, tool or topic, often operating beyond gallery walls. As the initiator of Future Art Ecosystems, Serpentine Arts Technologies co-commissions and co-produces innovative projects which develop and share knowledge, capabilities and resources. 


Dark Matter Labs

Dark Matter Labs works to create institutions, instruments and infrastructures for more equitable, daring and regenerative futures. Around the planet, we’re feeling the consequences of outdated institutions and inadequate infrastructures incapable of coping with planetary-scale challenges. Dark Matter believes in taking on these challenges via a new civic economy. 

Somerset House Studios

Somerset House Studios is an experimental workspace in the centre of London connecting artists, makers and thinkers with audiences. Located inside the repurposed former Inland Revenue building, the Studios offer space and support to artists pushing bold ideas, engaging with urgent issues and pioneering new technologies.


Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley

Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley (b. 1995, London) is a Berlin/London-based artist. They received a BA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London in 2019. Brathwaite-Shirley works predominantly in animation, sound, performance, and video game development. Their practice focuses on intertwining lived experience with fiction to imaginatively retell the stories of Black Trans people. Danielle’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions and performances at institutions such as Artnight Dundee (2023)  Villa Arson, Nice (2023) Fact, Liverpool (2022) David Kordansky, LA (2022) Project Arts Centre, Ireland (2022); Skänes konstförening, Malmö, Sweden (2022); Arebyte Gallery, London (2021); QUAD, Derby, England (2021); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2021); Tate Modern, London (2020); Focal Point Gallery, London (2020); Science Gallery, London (2020); and MU Hybrid Art House, London (2020). Their work has been included in group exhibitions at institutions such as Julia Stoschek Foundation, Berlin (2022); Münchner Kammerspiele, Munich (2019); Les Urbaines, Lausanne (2019); and Barbican, London (2018). 

Adrienne Buller

Adrienne Buller is a Director of Research at Common Wealth. In 2022 she co-wrote Owning the Future: Power and Property in an Age of Crisis with Mathew Lawrence, in which the authors argue that the systemic change we need hinges on a new era of democratic ownership: a reinvention of the firm as a vehicle for collective endeavour and meeting social needs. Buller is also the author of The Value of a Whale: On the Illusions of Green Capitalism (2022). The book examines the fatal biases that have shaped the response of our governing institutions to climate and environmental breakdown. Buller’s writing and work has appeared in the Guardian, Jacobin, The New Statesman, New Left Review and the Financial Times, among others. Common Wealth (est. 2019) is a UK-based research organisation reimagining ownership as the structuring force in our economy. Their work with community and grassroots groups as well as international policy makers combines rigorous analysis and research with bold ideas for an economy that works for everyone.  

Dr Hilary Cottam OBE

Dr Hilary Cottam OBE is an internationally acclaimed social entrepreneur working with communities and governments around the world to design collaborative, affordable solutions to big social challenges. Innovations include new approaches to employment, ageing and chronic health conditions. Hilary’s current work focuses on the need for a ‘fifth social revolution’: to enable widespread flourishing in this century as work, society and our economies go through deep structural change. Hilary’s book Radical Help on the future of welfare was published to widespread acclaim in June 2018 by Little Brown UK. Her TED talk on the future of social systems has had over 750,000 views. She is currently a Visiting Professor at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. Hilary has been recognised by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and was named UK Designer of the Year in 2005 for her work pioneering social design. She was awarded an OBE in 2019 for services to the welfare state. 

Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst

Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst are artists renowned for their pioneering work in machine learning, software and music. They develop their own technology, and protocols for living with the technology of others, often with a focus on the ownership and augmentation of digital identity and voice. These technical systems not only facilitate expansive artworks across media, but are proposed as artworks unto themselves. Herndon and Dryhurst were awarded the 2022 Ars Electronica STARTS prize for digital art. They have sat on ArtReview’s Power 100 list since 2021. Holly holds a PhD in Computer Music from Stanford CCRMA, Mathew is largely self-taught. They have held faculty positions at NYU, the European Graduate School, Strelka Institute and the Antikythera Program at the Berggruen Institute. They publish their studio research openly through the Interdependence podcast, and recently co-founded Spawning, an organization building a consent layer for AI. Their critically acclaimed musical works are released through 4AD.  

Indy Johar

Indy Johar is an architect, co-founder of Architecture 00 and Dark Matter Labs. Indy’s work is focused on the strategic design of new super scale civic assets for transition; specifically at the intersection of financing, contracting and governance for deeply democratic futures. Dark Matter Labs is an international research organisation working with institutions around the world, from UNDP, European Commission on Net Zero Cities, European Environmental Agency, Climate Kic, Scottish Government and various national agencies and cities. Indy is also a non-executive director of WikiHouse Foundation and Bloxhub, formerly Good Growth Commissioner for the RSA, UNDP Innovation Facility Advisory Board Member, RIBA Trustee, amongst others. He has lectured at institutions such as University of Bath, TU-Berlin, Architectural Association, University College London, Princeton, Harvard, MIT and New School. Most recently, he was awarded the London Design Medal for Innovation in 2022. 

Divya Siddarth

Divya Siddarth is the co-founder of the Collective Intelligence Project, which advances collective intelligence capabilities for the democratic and effective governance of transformative technologies. She serves as Associate Political Economist and Social Technologist at Microsoft’s Office of the CTO. She also holds positions as a research director at Metagov and a researcher in residence at the RadicalxChange Foundation. 

Sam Sivapragasam

Sam Sivapragasam is a Black and Mixed (Black Jamaican, Sri Lankan) writer, grower and organiser with Land In Our Names (LION), a grassroots collective based in London, Britain. LION works towards land justice through a reparative justice and racial justice framework. They are passionate about agroecological methods and see food justice and climate justice as essential parts of work. The organisation strives to create strong networks between BPOC growers, herbalists, landworkers, ecologists and other land-based practitioners. Sam has also coordinated and co-organised the BPOC Growers Grants, Resource Pack for BPOC Growers, the Anne:Seed Events and House of Annetta garden, and the Cultivating Justice Project.  

Curated and produced by:

Serpentine Arts Technologies and RadicalxChange.


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