‘The Grand Domestic Revolution—User’s Manual’ (GDR) investigates the domestic space and its (changing) use through a variety of methods and disciplines, traversing the fields of art, design, architecture, urban planning, activism and theory. A number of artists and other practitioners contribute to this endeavour. Residents from 2009-2011 include Sepake Angiama, Paul Elliman, and Doris Denekamp who utilized neighbourhood and online research to create prototypes and interventions around the theme of (Green) Cooperativsm. Wietske Maas and Travis Meinolf experimented with Home Production; while 'interor' infrastuctural interventions for the furniture, library and hallways were created by ifau & Jesko Fezer, Mirjam Thomann and Graziela Kunsch. Current themes and residents from February–October 2011 include Kyohei Sakaguchi and Kateřina Šedá who will each investigate forms of usership in architectures; home and housing rights with Maria Pask and Nazima Kadir; the question of invisible and domestic labour taken up by Werker Magazine; Agency will continue its deliberations on copyright issues of domestic THINGS (gardens and textiles); and keywords in relations to food service work will be workshopped with Xu Tan. Parallel to this, the Read-in activity continues. Initiated by artist Annette Krauss and theatre maker, Read-in is an open reading group inhabiting a different neighbour’s home for every session.



The GDR library constitutes the backbone of our ongoing ‘living research’ and thus grows over time. The library offers points of engagement with the project and consists of different research materials such as books, articles, images and DVDs (artist’s video, films) that are available for viewing when visiting the apartment. The first installment was done by the GDR team and was later adapted by Sao Paulo-based artist Graziela Kunsch who suggested that the GDR team create thematic selections.



'The Grand Domestic Revolution-User's Manual' is a long-term project developed as Casco’s contribution to 'Utrecht Manifest: Biennial for Social Design'. The project deals with the evolutionary and collaborative process of “living” research in the contemporary domestic and private sphere – particularly in relation to the spatial imagining (or the built environment). It aims at re-articulating while exercising the notions of the social, the public and, eventually, the commons.




Since August 2010, the GDR team have undertaken research in order to connect with the local neighbourhood on questions relating to peoples’ social conditions and material environments. Questionnaires, interviews, and conversations are the methods used to explore the themes and problems addressed in GDR, such as self-organised governance, co-operative living, and spatial organisation in and from the domestic sphere.


Cafe De Morgenster, Oudegracht 323, Utrecht
With Ron & Mikkie
Conducted by Chris Lee, Elsa Louise Manceaux, Maiko Tanaka
(7 September 2010)

We were first referred to Ron and Mikkie by Freek from STIL, with regards to their involvement with the anti-deportation organisation, AAGU (Anarchistische Anti-deportatie Groep, Utrecht). When we sat down with them, we quickly found out that they also run a mobile D.I.Y Kitchen and we wanted to hear more about it. Calling themselves Le Sabot, they cook organic and vegan food for political and non-commercial events, as a way to fight and resist exploitation. They see cooking as part of an infrastructure that provides care to people for meetings and actions, nourishing and providing a source of energy for people. But it is also a way to have political discussions with those they cook for. Ron and Mikkie shared with us more detail on how their mobile kitchen functions and the different ways their vision of living together reaches other parts of their lives.

Maiko: So, maybe you could describe for us what you do, what is your role? How did you start?

Mikkie: We are involved in many organizations. There is AAGU, 2.Dh5, and we are also involved in an international mobile kitchen.

Ma: Could you tell us more about that? How did it start?

Mi: The kitchen started 7 years ago. It is an anarchistic kitchen for action. We cook every week-end, and at the end of September we'll be in Brussels at the No-Border Camp. The kitchen is called Le Sabot, (from Sabotage). We cook vegan and organic, for happenings which are meant to create a better world. We cooked in Copenhagen at the climate camp, in Strasbourg at the anti-NATO camp and in Calais at the No-border Camp. We also cook for animal rights, little projects, and bigger projects. We cook for GroenFront! (Earth First!), which is an anarchistic ecological movement in Holland. They make direct actions against climate change and capitalism. In Holland we work with 6 people, and 12 in Germany. It is a Dutch/German kitchen. Next to AAGU, this is our main business.

Ma: So you have a stable kitchen too?

Mi: No, it is only mobile and it can be used in vast scales. It's very big, we have pots of 300 litres, and we can cook for 100 to 2000 people. For example in Copenhagen it was 2000 people.

Ma: What brought you to this idea?

Mi: I like to cook for a lot of people. I want to create an infrastructure for people who want to change the world. A kitchen is one of the main structures people need at a camp or an action. It brings people together. I want to make propaganda for an organic and vegan life, an anarchist life, and this comes all together in the kitchen.

Elsa: Yes, a kitchen is a very handy, healthy, logical fund-raiser. And when you cook is it always in a political context?

Ron: We only cook in a political context, political only in the context of an action, a camp or demonstrations. It always has to do with changing the system. We do not cook for political parties. We don’t think they will change the world. We only cook for autonomous groups like ourselves, such as AAGU, the no-border groups, etc. Now, there is a festival in Calais, an autonomous and illegal music festival, but there is another Dutch mobile kitchen making dinner for the people who are there now called Rampenplan. It is like a sister kitchen to ours.

Ma: How does the kitchen operate? For example, how do you manage cooking for large amounts of people with your relatively small crew?

Mi: We ask for help on-site with preparation such as chopping vegetables.

Ma: Do you get your ingredients at the places where you go?

R: Yes. We have enough space in the van for the burners and the washing tools, but we prefer to get our ingredients from the local area, bread from the baker next door, fresh vegetables found in the surroundings, etc. And the nice thing is that most of the time when you talk to the organic baker on the corner, and you tell them why you are there–for migrant justice, against war, or ecological reasons–they tend to really support us and approve it. It happens everywhere! Of course you come across people who are against what you are doing, but a lot of people are charmed by what we are doing. So this local ingredient gathering is another way spread the word that the system has to be changed.

Ma: How do you decide on what to make?

Mi: By what is in season, the price, and by the expected attendance. I am in charge of the coordination for the No-Border Camp in Brussels, and we expect on the first day, 200 hundred people, but as it goes on we expect it to grow to 2000. So for 100 people, we can make what we call “goodies,” extra nice food with good oil, but when it gets to 2000 people, and since the food has to be organic, we make a very basic menu and ask for donations, and people pay what they can.

E: And is the donation system successful?

R: Yes! Absolutely.

Mi: If people don’t have money, they can eat and don’t have to pay. When they have more money they tend to pay more. The average cost is 7€ for three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), with coffee and tea, and we always come out with a profit. After expenses, we donate all profit to other organizations who need it.

E: For which organizations?

Mi: We give to AAGU, animal rights gatherings, but also to special projects in South Africa, or South America, where they need money for purchasing computers.

R: It was really a coincidence that this project became a fundraising tool, not officially of course, but we get a lot of donations and have money leftover after costs. I'm always amazed how much money people give for the food.

Ma: Well it must be good food then!

Mi: Yes, but they also like our energy, we give a lot of energy to them. And they see us working for their health and nourishment and people like it very much.

R: But we have high standards also, we do not make soup alone. We want different colors on the plate, and there also have to be good salads...

Ma: So there is a lot of care put in then...

R: Yes, and you know people arrive at different times to these events, and so when they might arrive late for the food, we are almost embarrassed to give them something that has gone cold, because it should be warm and hot! It's not only that it looks good...but it should be fresh and hot.

Mi: And the people deserve it! The people we are serving are working very hard too! Going through fences, being arrested, sitting for hours in detention sometimes, so they deserve good food. And it’s possible to make this happen! The donation structure really works!

R: And the main thing is that we do it as volunteers, so there are no wages to pay.

Mi: And at the camps, we always have a lot of people helping us.

Ma: As volunteers yourselves, how do you sustain yourself on a daily basis?

Mi: Ron and I are living with our children. Ron works 3 days straight for 24 hours, which frees him up for the rest of the week. And I get some money from the government because I am declared sick. It's a bit of money but combined with Ron's income, we can live and support our children.

Ma: Are your children involved with your actions? How do they feel about it?

Mi: Our daughter comes with us sometimes when we cook or when we make direct actions. She came with us when we went to protest in Volkel, a military air base in Noord-Brabant. There are 22 nuclear bombs there. And we made an action there, and our kitchen was there but we were directly participating in the protest. Our daughter came with us through the fences because she supported the cause. The youngest son is only 16 and likes to talk about the actions...

R: And he listens to bands that are politically engaged. [Country music suddenly starts playing in the background] He is not active like going through fences or throwing bricks. He listens to music with a political message.

Mi: The oldest is making his own music, he is involved with Culture Evolution, Utrecht Massive, which is a cooperative of music makers. He always says "What are you doing at the riots again, stop going to the riots! Just come home and make music!" but he is 26 and living his own life.

Ma: What drew you to be part of this movement to help people? Your motivation from the beginning, to want a social change?

Mi: That was a long time ago... I was very young when I felt solidarity with under-privileged people. When I was 6 years old at school, I was fighting against the teacher who had the power and discussed with my friends about the system and the power we didn’t have. It started very young. It developed further, and at 16 I was involved in an anti-military action group, and I left school and lived in squatted houses. I was also member of the left-wing union, and it went on from there.

R: For me it was slightly different. I wasn't so young when I got involved. It started when I was 17 or 18 years old, and we had big demonstrations in Holland against the nuclear bombs. We called it a disease, Hollanditis. At that time, a lot of people came on the streets, to protest vocally and physically against the decision to bring bombs here. That was my first encounter with leftist ideas. I read about it, and became interested, and so that was my first contact. I then developed in the same way as Mikkie, and became more and more radical.

First you start with demonstrations, you write stuff you read stuff, and you listen to music, and then you realize it's not enough because nothing changed. And then you go to meetings and demonstrations and you shout, and then that’s not enough, and then you go blockade something and you go on the roof, and you realize it's not enough! And so... it’s a process of gradually becoming radicalized.

E: How did you get to AAGU then? How was it founded?

Mi: We had an anarchistic discussion group called ITACA. We talked about our lives and philosophy, all based on anarchistic principles. We did it for a few years and then felt that it wasn’t enough, just to talk. As we talked, we felt we had to do something. That's the roots of AAGU.

E: And you are the founders?

Mi: With a few other people.

R: It started in 2003.

Ma: So the kitchen started around the same time then?

R: We were already involved in another kitchen so we we'd been cooking already for 12–15 years. But the kitchen we talked about earlier was founded at about the same time. The AAGU was founded in 2003 for 3 reasons: First because of the political situation at that time, when we had a minister of integration who was really a witch—Rita Verdonk—and the regime was really repressive for migrants. Therefore when we thought of what to do during the discussion group, and we thought: Lets focus on the migrants!

Mi: The migrants have the lowest of the lowest position in Europe. Their misery is extremely big.

E: They don't have the possibility of raising their voices, no way to claim their rights.

Mi: They have nothing and came from a situation that was already very hard, and when coming here, everyone wants them to go away.

R: A Third reason for founding this group is that nearby Utrecht is a big deportation center, called Camp Zeist. It is in the middle of the woods, its a beautiful spot, and there is a huge jail, just for migrants. And when you see it, you cannot believe it. Its an absurd vision.

Mi: They always lay deportation centers in places where no one can see it. Therefore people do not realize. There would be much more protest if people would see it.

Camp Zeist

Ma: What kind of building is Camp Zeist?

R: I think it has existed for many years, but became very famous when the Pan Am plane crashed on Lockerbie in Scotland. 3 guys from Libya were found guilty and authorities were looking for a court to convict them. They found Camp Zeist, which got renovated specially for the Libyan prisoners. A few years after that court case, it became a prison for women migrants. But the government thought it'd be a good solution to lock up all the migrants, and as it grew they added an emergency jail next to the big wall, and then started to have male migrants over there.

Chris: How are the migrants captured?

R: Easily, when walking on the street and being controlled, for instance if driving with no lights. The police looks especially for people who are not from Holland, they see it in the color of your hair. It is racial discrimination. I have never been asked for my ID when I walk in the street. I visited some guys who are locked up in Camp Zeist, and they told me that it happened like that.

Ma: Is it possible to visit?

Mi: Yes, but you need an invitation, in your name, from someone who is living there. They have to write a letter to you.

C: So all the letters that go out are checked?

Mi: Yes. Once authorities of a prison boat in Zaandam refused some members of the AAGU.

R: Most of the people haven't done anything wrong. They only fled their own countries.

Ma: What happens when they are there? Do they have to go back home? What is the process?

R: They want to lock the people so that they can send them back. But in a lot of cases it is impossible. People locked up are political or climate refugees, fleeing form war...

Ma: So this prison is a holding cell, and people can choose to leave, only if they go back to their country?

R: Yes, exactly. That's the only way out...

Mi: No no. When the government realizes that its taking too long to get them out, they "klinker" them: They put them on the street, give them a train ticket to the next city. The migrants end up living in illegality, in very precarious conditions, with no health care, nothing.

R: We heard a lot of stories of the people in the prison of Rotterdam, who are left on the streets, then caught, and sent to Camp Zeist for a few months, then on the street again... Its an on and off situation. And people get mentally-ill like that, you can't do that for a long time!

E: And after seeing Camp Zeist, you immediately started doing actions? Or communication campaigns?

R: Our first action was to occupy the IND (Immigration and Naturalization Service) in 2004. It attracted the media, and then we started to think what we were going to focus on.

Mi: We try to pull the focus from the public. At that time, we tried to work with less radical organizations—NGOs and churches—to build a platform but it didn’t work. They want to work with the government to make the way back for the refugees easier. We have the principle that everyone has the right to live where he or she wants. The ideologies were different and that was the main problem. Other organizations think that only political refugees have the right to live here. We do not agree. We subscribe to the No borders and No nations principle.

Ma: So the No borders principle, that's what the NGOs and churches don't believe in.

R: I don't know if it's that they don't share our ideals, but they are dependent on money from the government. So if they join us, they would lose their money.

Mi: Noo, not only the money, they believe in nations!

R: Some churches...

Mi: They believe in nations, and believe that we are already too crowded, here in Holland, and only have the capacity for 800 people each year. They want to work with the Government on the deportation of refugees, and to give the refugees money, 300 euros to build up a life there. How can you do that in Somalia or Afghanistan??

C: Would you say that it has to do with the word anarchistic in your name as well? Maybe this word scares people too.

Mi: Yes, Also.

C: Because you say that there is the same goal, but maybe the analysis is different about why people think there isn't enough to go around... And so do you have a strategy to communicate about this with other groups?

R: It doesn't work out, because they are stuck to their own principles and ideas.

Mi: And so are we! Because we want to change the whole system. We do not believe that within capitalism it is possible for everyone to live well. Capitalism creates and needs poor people to make it work, and so it also creates different levels of power.

R: Migration is not a problem, the capitalist system is the problem.

Ma: As a parallel, in the material feminist movement, there is the argument that, in order for the industries to function, there is all this invisible work (behind it), women who are making food at home, for example. Maybe it is a less extreme scenario, but is there a possibility to connect that scenario where people are exploited to help sustain capitalism, with the past, with the feminist struggle?

Mi: For me yes; I believe that it is also patriarchal, it needs people who are supporting it. In Holland it's changed a bit, women are supported for doing their house work. But, also the third world is supporting it, to do the meeswektaal werk—I can't explain in English. (in Nederlands: R: Zij vraag naar, de link tussen feminisme en migratie strijd... Mi: Ja... Je heb altijd uitge.... verzorgen dat het kapitalisme en het patriarchaat kan bestaan. En dat...

R: The capitalist system can only exist when there are people being exploited, like children or women, and the third world. It can only exist when there are natural resources taken out from the poor countries. But the link to feminism...

Ma: The strategies for the material feminist was to make the work visible, and to show their is meaning to the work. I guess this third world reproductive labour is hard to see in the international media—we know that film-makers have tried to show that for example. Do you think that's a good medium to make things visible?

R: Absolutely. We work together with someone who is making documentaries and that's what we want: To make it visible. There is also good book by a Belgian writer about the migrant situation that asks: ‘What are you gonna do when the refugees are coming?’ This is the title. Then you imagine the situation the other way around. Imagine there is a climate crisis here in Holland. Imagine if you have to go to Belgium or France and that they don’t want you? Communication is hard because the government is giving a message to the Dutch people that the country is full. And since people hear it all the time from politicians, they believe in it. And so politicians through the media create fear, because they want to maintain power.

R: Once in Soesterberg, the little village near Camp Zeist, we had this discussion with the Mayor. He was talking about the deportation center. He called it a jail, not a detention center. People started asking questions, but didn't realize what kind of people are locked up there. They think that they are just criminals. Therefore people make the assumption that the prisoners receive visits from other criminals.

Mi: Capitalism needs tools to make capitalism work, and one of the tools to make it work is fear.

E: What would be your tool in return?

R: When we were in Calais, we saw that police were chasing migrants on the streets. The migrants had nothing. And they were beaten up, in winter, in the cold! We stood between the migrants and the police. We tried to photograph the situation to prevent the police from beating them up. In Holland we go to the IND and occupy the office, we go on the roof of Camp Zeist, we publish articles on the website, we are going to bureaus who send people to work in the prison (on an irregular basis, free-lance guards.) And we organize the No-Border camp in Brussels. We have lots of contacts with Belgian activists, now also with German activists.

Noise demonstration at Camp Zeist

E: You mentioned publishing earlier, and I saw on the web that you are affiliated with Buiten de Orde, is that a magazine?

Mi: It's a Vrije Bond, an anarchistic federation of people and organizations in Holland, and we are also member of Anarchistic Group Utrecht, and that is also a member of the Vrije Bond—the Free Union.

Ma: You mentioned the direct actions. The question of the process and collective decision making—we read about your principle of egalitarian decision making and balancing the voices—I was wondering how your decisions and organizational process works, because you have diverse people you're working with too...

Mi: We work with only consensus and we talk and talk until we reach consensus. We also use hand signals, to give structure to the discussion, to communicate how we are feeling about something. If I agree with someone for instance I do this (Mikkie shakes both open hands in front of her head). It makes it easier, and we do not have to raise our voices.

C: Is there a particular way you arrange the room, spatially to make this easier?

Mi: We always make a circle. If we there are too many people, we make two circles, so that nobody is being placed in a higher position. We meet in free spaces, like ACU, squatted houses, free and safe spaces.

C: Do you ever feel threatened? Are other groups trying to attack you?

Mi: Only by the police. When we are cooking I feel very safe with the people around me. I live in the van half the time, but the police mostly are very aggressive. When I talk to the press, I have a nickname. Also because of the Nazis, extreme right people, so that they can't find me.

C: I have noticed groups here that position themselves primarily as anti-fascist groups, and in my experience, that's something that I don't see so commonly where I'm from in Canada, but here it's more explicitly taken as a position. For me this struggle against fascism is something that heard about in school and in history books.

Mi: But it is happening now with Geert Wilders. We have Neo-Nazi's here too, but Wilders is extremely right-wing.

R: But, in Holland, it is nothing compared to Germany. In Germany, the extreme right-wing movement is big! And you really have to be careful and alert as a left-wing activist. We cooked last weekend for a book fair in Oberhausen, and most of the messages are about the struggle against the fascists in Oberhausen.

Ma: Domestic work is normally seen as un-threatening but when it is used in a political way, do you think it can become part of a strategy? For instance there is a knitting activism group. Knitting activists meet at protests and they do huge sit-ins, they are knitting instead of throwing stones.

C: It would look bad in the media to attack knitting people. Maybe it's similar to Martin Luther King's strategy. If you attack them, who's the asshole then?

Mi: I saw in England a knitting woman protesting against nuclear bombs, but she was standing in the middle of the road! It is the same with cooking—it looks very harmless but it adds to people's strength.

R: Sometimes the authorities also try to ruin our infrastructure.

Mi: At the anti-NATO camp in Strasbourg, they closed the borders to the kitchen. We could go through to cook, but they stopped the kitchen.

Ma: So some people are aware that domestic work like that is potentially threatening.

R: Before, the Jordaan Riots in Amsterdam, the kitchens of the houses were located on the street-side. Women were working in the kitchen, and they could speak with each other through their open windows. There was a big riot in the neighborhood because the women were complaining about their situation (ext. source: Protests took place against the reduction of unemployment benefits; for many people the only source of income). Therefore architects thought it would be more strategic to put the kitchen at the back of the street so that women couldn’t communicate directly and revolt anymore.

Ma: Is this recent?

R: No, around 1930s, during The Great Depression.

Ma: What would be a tool that could help your movement, something that's missing?

Mi: I would like to have a dictionary to translate my point of view to the rest of the people in Holland and in Europe. They can not understand what I am saying, and I try to tell and explain but it doesn’t work.

Ma: What kind of words?

Mi: Freedom, equality, solidarity, poverty, peace... It seems that people can not understand these words any longer.

More information on Le Sabot can be found at their website: AAGU:

Since August 2010, the GDR team have undertaken research in order to connect with the local neighbourhood on questions relating to peoples’ social conditions and material environments. Questionnaires, interviews and conversations are the methods used to explore the themes and problems addressed in GDR, such as self-organised governance, cooperative living and spatial organisation in and from the domestic sphere.


The AVANT GARDEN and artistic (de)fense

Saturday 28 May 2011, 13.00-17.00h
GDR apartment, Bemuurde Weerd o.z.18b.

'The Cook, The Farmer, His Wife and Their Neighbour' presentation by Henriette Waal (Wilde Westen collective)

'The Cook, The Farmer, His Wife and Their Neighbour' presentation by Henriette Waal (Wilde Westen collective)

Thing 1359 'Chico Mendez Mural Garden' a proposal to the neighborhood by Agency and Casco of a long-term communal garden

Thing 1359 'Chico Mendez Mural Garden' a proposal to the neighborhood by Agency and Casco of a long-term communal garden

Thing 1359 'Chico Mendez Mural Garden' a proposal to the neighborhood by Agency and Casco of a long-term communal garden

The 'Meal Machine' harvest lead by Doris Denekamp

The 'Meal Machine' harvest lead by Doris Denekamp

The 'Meal Machine' harvest lead by Doris Denekamp

The 'Meal Machine' collective meal preparation

The 'Meal Machine' green soup of radish leaves with potato, onion, carrot and sun dried tomatoes

The 'Meal Machine' radish, endive, cheese salad

6 June 2011, 11.03 — posted by Casco