‘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.

QUESTIONNAIRE - Katharina Schlieben

Graziela Kunsch: Do you know when/how you’ve started your library?
Katharina Schlieben: I think I always had a library even not as organized as today. In any case, I enjoyed the travel-book library of my parents including maps from all over the world. Friends came often and we were travelling on the maps, imagining places and landscapes for hours. I started my library connected to culture, art and human and social sciences the last year when I went to school. Accordingly to subjects and projects it has been growing over the last 20 years.

G: How do you organize your books? (Examples: by author? by themes? etc. You don't have to answer with a single word, it's actually nicer if you can describe your mode(s) of organization)
K: Without really recognizing it from the very first beginning, I organize my books according to projects I am working on. As I have a quiet good time memory, I know pretty well when what happened and what I was reading, collecting, researching or getting from others during the project period. The project-related part of my library is the most coherent one. I like this approach also as I can bring together all kind of genres in one section together: philosophy as well as art books as well as flyers and dvds as well as articles from the papers or cultural readers. In that sense the library functions trans-disciplinary and trans-medial. The library is consequently very personal but it helps me to navigate very easy and I can introduce projects to colleagues visiting me quiet simple.

G: What’s your library about? (Which areas/themes/authors are more present there? Can you describe some special "groups of books" of your library?)
K: Beside the project-related library, I also have a section with exhibition catalogues, monographs and encyclopaedia, art history, philosophy, literature as well as books I got from my grand-parents libraries` when they died. My project-related library is based on project lines I worked on in the last ten years, e.g. “Colonialism without Colonies. Relations between Tourism Industry, Neo-Colonialism and Migration” or “Work to do! Self-Organisation in Precarious Working Conditions”, “Site-seeing: Disneyfication of Cities” or “Translation Paradoxes and Misunderstandings”. Point of views and discourses around post-colonialism, migration, global economy, self-organisation, media theory, political sciences, feminism, alternative economy, history and practices of resistance, knowledge production in art and culture, education (systems), urbanism, architecture, sociology, psychology, and of course curatorial debates and opinions meet here in various ways.

G: What does a library mean to you?
K: My library means my home to me. The place where my books are is my temporary home. As I am moving quiet often and sometimes not having enough space to bring all my books or to unpack all of them, I only take my project-related library with me. This is the section I work almost every day with and feel a bit lost when it is not close to me. Quiet often the other sections disappear in a cellar or atticand sometimes I do not see them for some years. I dream about the spatial situation to have everything together. Books always have the priority when I move; they get the best boxes and most care and most of the possible space in the new home.

G: Please check this list of themes and books: . This is GDR’s library current state. Can you suggest some other titles that should be there?
K: Not that sociologist approaches that are present on almost every symposia or workshop. But I could imagine that Bruno Latour’s Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory, in case it is not in yet, would be an interesting neighbor to the others.

G: Can you lend one/some of your own books to GDR library? If yes please let us know in which theme(s) the book(s) should be included. The book(s) would be temporarily available in the GDR flat for the residents and guests and by the end of the project the book would be sent back to your library. The final date of GDR isn't fixed yet - should be October 2010 but it's possible that the project lasts for a year more - in that case you can also tell us for how long it would be possible for you to lend us the book(s).
PS: in your case, if you're interesting in donating the amazing books and other printed materials you've edited yourself for the project that would also be great. I don't know if you have already sent some materials to Casco; in case you have please let me know which materials should go to GDR Library and in which themes these materials should be available.
K: When I was visiting you at Casco, I gave you my latest book (edited together with Soenke Gau): Work to do! Self-organisation in precarious working conditions. Work to do! is probably closest to the fields around working ethics, neo-liberal working conditions but would also find its place in the section: “Users Manual (self-organisation)". Further, the book Spectacle, Pleasure Principle or the Carnivalesque is a reader on possibilities, experiences of difference and strategies of the carnivalesque in cultural/political practice. It could fit probably in the section “Participation strategies” in Art and Design” or rather in ”Certain Utopias, Certain Experiments”.

G: Could you take a picture of your library and send it to us? In case you're lending one ore more books for GDR Library I would be very interested in having a photo of the bookshelf(bookshelves) where the book(s) was(were) taken out, showing the small empty space(s) previously occupied by the book(s).
K: The picture shows a part of my book shelve here. For years now I use these stones and wooden planks to construct my book shelves. It is quiet helpful as fields can be enlarged and minimized easily.

G: Who should I contact next? Can you put me in contact with someone else who hosts a special library at home?
K: Hm? Wait, a good old colleague and friend of mine Sven Sappelt, could be interesting to contact. He is a philosopher and cultural theorist and has probably a slightly different approach towards collecting written material than I have. Would you like his contact?

G: Just to remind you of my interest in libraries, since 2001 I open my personal library for public use and I also bring parts of this library to my art exhibitions. I really appreciate the library's capacity in creating meaning - as an example, right now I'm working as an advisor for a theater group that is going to develop a project inside a women's prison in Sao Paulo and I'm helping them to build the collective library of the project. It's amazing to see how many concepts/contents come out by simply organizing the list of books and videos they've been collecting for their research. The same thing happened in GDR - when I arrived at Utrecht all books were organized in a very funny way - by alphabetical order of titles. So I asked Binna, who was responsible for choosing the books for the library, to organize them by themes. It was a very simple action but had a very nice result - now it's easier for us to know all possible entries that “The Grand Domestic Revolution” has; to understand what the project is about, what's relevant for the project...


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1 June 2011, 12.59 — posted by Casco