MARIA JULIANA BYCK     瑪麗亞‧朱莉安娜‧拜克   Μαρία Τζουλιάνα Μπυκ

Intangible Commons is the portfolio site for Maria Juliana Byck, a social practice artist based in Athens, Greece. Her multidisciplinary approach combines video, installation, performance, place-based interventions, ritual, workshops and community collaborations. Recognizing that the traumatic separation between ourselves and the environment is in large part due to the disorientation and disconnection entangled with the extractive violence of capitalism, she explores methodologies of reciprocity, mutual aid, divination and interdependence. Her current work focuses on decentering the human gaze and the potential of rewilding and mending as models for healing practices. Recent projects focus on sustainable practices for creating the cultural commons through creative reuse, exchange, psycho-geography, and visual and sonic ethnography.

Trajectories explored through participatory art are at a nascence of potential. As one engages with others in new forms, new ways to experience the world around us and a sensory understanding of what matters most in life is revealed. My practice centers on developing tools and methodologies for opening encounters through sharing and listening. Immersion into the visual and sonic rhythm of a place, allows the unique terrains that shape the daily life of a place to come to the forefront. Experimenting between borders and barriers, between public and private, between abandoned, claimed, and reclaimed experiences, it is possible to uncover that which obscures paths of connection.  My investigations are continually refined through a research-based practice resulting in multi-disciplinary productions, installations and social space interventions deeply rooted in the characteristics of place, shaped by exchange and serendipity. Combining elements of documentary film, visual ethnography, scholarship and performance, my aim is to trace a process whereby universal and particular are brought into relation. My practice is generative, socially-integrated, observational and responsive to new geographies emerging from the backdrop of the global condition, in ways that are both playful and revealing. By excavating that which is collective, yet immaterial, such as knowledge, skills, ideas memories, stories and customs, I investigate in order to reveal the Intangible Commons.

Through workshops and collaborations, I activate different social spheres to encourage cross-cultural and inter-generational exchanges. By mapping ways of navigating, understanding, and projecting aspirations onto the context, I develop multi-disciplinary forms that best embody the distinctive characteristics of a place. The results are an unpredictable combination that brings about a new form expanding on the traditions of the installation, performance, and documentary formats.

Since 2005 I have experimented with video.  I have produced community-led, investigative, documentary films and live television shows. The productions were broadcast regularly in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and nationally in the United States on Free Speech TV. I led video projects focused on social, environmental and economic issues in Vietnam, Greece, Italy, England, India, Nepal, Taiwan, and United States.

Recent work shown at Bien 2021 Textile Art Beinnale, Biennale of the Western Balkans, Victoria Square Project, Thessaloniki Queer Arts Festival, Benaki Museum, Athens Greece, TAV and Cross Gallery in Taipei, Taiwan, Art Confluence in Kathmandu, Nepal and Side Gallery in Jaipur India, Skopelos Foundation for the Arts, Skopelos, Greece and Transmediale, Berlin, Germany.   Past work has been presented in New York at MoMA, the Armory Show, Anthology Film Archives, and at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics and at Pacific Film Archives, Berkeley CA, Wexner Center, Columbus OH, REDCAT Theater, Los Angeles CA, the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, KW Contemporary Art Center, Berlin, at the Berlin Biennale, La générale en manufacture, Paris, Mostra Internaxional Cinema Educatiu, Valencia, Spain and broadcast in New York and nationally on FreeSpeech TV and internationally on TeleSur.

Intangible Commons
Our culture is preserved, protected, alienated, commodified, professionalized, and compartmentalized by institutions and the private market. Power, established in the profit-driven economy, manipulates value and controls exchange. An art world bubble, of ownership and false scarcity, surrounds us.
How can we begin to experiment with the boundaries created by this hermetically sealed, self-referential system? Can we push up against, gently prod, or kick through, to access the abundance that hovers just on the other side of intangible barriers?
Art is sold, owned, and safeguarded, as if it could be stolen and protected, rather than shared, changed and built upon.Art, produced as playthings for the powerful, focuses on the desires and perceived needs of those separated out from the flux and flow of everyday life.
Art is passively consumed, humbly accepted, selected by those complicit with the system, and seemingly possible only through the generous benevolence of the prevailing dominant manipulators.

What would art be if there were no artists? What if all that we create was not sequestered, labeled, exploited or colonized? The wealth of all generations, in large overlapping systems of ideas and realizations, belongs to us all.
Art and culture is always collaborative and collective.
The divisions between people and our ideas dismantle, depoliticize and co-opt our potential.

Selected publications

Sociocratic Neighbourhood Circles in Europe: How participatory decision making can empower neighbours to work together and address local and global needs, effectively

November 2022

SoNeC – Sociocratic Neighbourhood Circles is an EU-funded initiative, active from 2020 to 2022.
Its aim was to explore the potential of neighbourhood-based social communities with bottom-
up, participatory and inclusive decision-making processes to solve local social and environmental problems. The SoNeC Partnership aims to raise awareness of the practices of common decision making, shared responsibility, participation and more generally, political action of citizens on a local level. The ambition of this approach is to promote and thus contribute to the development of European values, the European Green Deal, as well as the UN SDGs in a way which is accessible to European neighbourhoods, and thus to all European citizens


May 2022

Maria Juliana Byck and George Kalivis created this book to document the zero waste, community fashion initiative #ProjectSemedaki; a creative reuse project that took place in collaboration with Victoria Square Project.
The ubiquitous but devalued Greek traditional handmade domestic textiles—the semedakia—are highlighted as a symbol of the work, creativity, technical skill, and innovation shared between generations of women over thousands of years. Six authors contributed texts that address a broad range of topics from fashion and social change, gender dynamics and fluctuating value in the history of textiles production, to the dualism assumed between fine art (haute couture) and crafts, the queering of cultural heritage textiles, and the emotional, social and environmental impact of fast fashion, mass consumption and our current disposable textile culture.

Co-opting the Coop: Cooperativist Society documenta Public Programs, Parko Eletherias/Fairspot, Field A Journal of Socially-Engaged Art Criticism Issue 18/19

March 2021

Reflection on the Cooperativist Society from the perspective of an individual artist responding to a high-profile cultural event in my newly chosen home of Athens. Although many aspects of what came to light through my participation in the project are not unique to Athens, they provide information, ideas and insights that can be useful to move forward if one would like to redefine art for a post-capitalist society. It was an opportunity to become more cognizant of the barriers to success when bringing grassroots alternative economic ecologies inside the borders of an international art world event.

Art is the Commons, The Brooklyn Rail

February 2013

Culture has become a commodity, preserved, protected, professionalized, and compartmentalized
by “public” institutions and the private market. Power, established in the profit-driven economy, manipulates value and controls circulation of ideas and innovation. Culture is sold, owned, and safeguarded, as if it could be stolen and protected, rather than shared, changed and built upon collaboratively. How can we begin to experiment with the boundaries created by this hermetically sealed, self-referential system, pushing up against, gently prodding, or kicking through these barriers?

Sharing Failure, Dissolutions, Struggles, and the Forms of Power in Collectives, A Blade of Grass
March 2013

Maria Juliana Byck, Kerry Downing and Sunita Prasad,

SOME FEMINISTS IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD Complicity, Objection, Castration, Recomposition

June 2012

Maria Juliana Byck, Colleen Asper, Marika Kandelaki, Sunita Prasad and Martyna Starosta,