THE GRAND
DOMESTIC REVOLUTION

THE GRAND
DOMESTIC REVOLUTION

USER'S MANUAL

USER'S MANUAL

‘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.

LIBRARY

LIBRARY

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.

APARTMENT 18B

APARTMENT 18B

'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.

TOWN MEETINGS

IN AFFINITY

IN AFFINITY

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.

DUTCH ART INSTITUTE SEMINAR #4 WITH MARINA VISHMIDT

A group of artists from the Dutch Art Institute have joined the GDR since last October and continued a private research seminar with guest artists, architects, curators/theorists. This month theorist Marina Vishmidt will hold a seminar focusing on the feminist perspectives on the domestic labour. Although it’s not open for the public, those who are extremely interested are welcome to join the evening session with a lecture & screening of a film by Helke Sander (From the Reports of Security Guards & Patrol Services No. 1, 5, & 8, Germany 1984, 11mins / 1986, 10mins / 1985, 6mins. 19.00-21.00). Please consult us. For the synopsis of the lecture, please click Self-Negating Labour: A Spasmodic Chronology of Domestic Unwork.

What is still interesting about housework? There are several directions that could be taken here. Domestic work still figures as the work that is not really work, unless you can afford to pay someone to do it for you: it is the realm of reproduction, the daily, endless, prosaic activities that do not produce anything and whose character is repetition. They ensure that the conditions are in place for other kinds of activities – paid work outside the home, for example – and maintain institutions such as education, art and politics, both physically and socially. Here we start to see the ambiguous position of domestic work; it is both evidently work – a concrete interaction with the world that is performed by humans and achieves certain effects – and not work, since it is not socially recognized in the way other work is in capitalist societies, through a wage, a contract, and regulations. Globally and historically, it has been delegated largely to women, who patriarchy and capitalism argued were naturally situated in the home. Hence part of the political stakes of housework for feminism, especially its socialist and materialist tendencies, had to do with its central role in the gendered division of labour, and its status as the work that capitalism doesn’t pay for – at least not directly – but which it requires for capitalist paid work, and capitalist social relations more broadly, to continue every day. Finally, housework was an emblem of the domination that formed the basis of the ‘free’ and equal contract between the worker and the boss. Hence, there was a lot of effort put into identifying housework with ‘productive labour’, in Marxist terms, at a time when the workers’ movement was seen as a powerful and mobilizing progressive force. Included in this politics was also ‘socializing’ housework, as the private and atomised nature of labour in the home was seen as the source of its invisibility, and its weakness in the face of the ‘naturalizing’ ideologies of patriarchy, religion and capitalism. This fed into the feminist interrogation of the family unit as the ‘cell’ of capitalist social production, which was taken up by other social struggles linked to ‘minority’ articulations, such as gay and lesbian rights movement,

But in order to land this genealogy in the present, we would also need to look at housework as a political site, and its proximity to artistic work, as both are premised as being somehow not part of the social relations of wage-labour. This becomes even clearer through historical examples of feminist conceptual artists performing housework as art, which anticipates the emergence of ‘relational’, ‘affective’ and ‘creative’ modalities as key to the transformation of both work and art, and their shaping by the structural transformation of capitalism in the past several decades, e.g. ‘financialisation’, ‘neo-liberalism’, etc. This would take in the ‘culturalism’ of contemporary production and the melancholic recuperation of politics in the sphere of art as ‘participation’ and as a normative ‘criticality’, in line with the economic hegemony of ‘critical consumption’ and collectivities organized around such practices, especially online. The negativity of housework and artwork alike (they do not really ‘produce’ anything) can be both economically valorised (production of ‘something’ is no longer considered important) and act as a paradigm of the rejection of efficiency, rationality and commodification of time that still rule over our current moment of ‘non-production’.

A case study: 20th c history of domestic work has seen labour-saving strategies originating in the factory imported into the home – appliances, Taylorist routines. A good reference here is the ‘Frankfurt Kitchen’ at the birth of Modernism in the 1930s, which saw the liberation of the housewife to be liberation as a housewife, with a more rational arrangement of the kitchen, as opposed to Socialist feminists who saw this liberation as the collectivising of the drudgery of household work and the abolition of the wage – something that could not be brought about by design but only through class struggle. So domestic work also crystallizes the tensions at the heart of the Modernist project between social emancipation and a rational aesthetics of consumption, which persist to this day.

This loss of distinction between ‘work’ and ‘non-work’ might give indications of how sites such as home and art have been, or can be, potential sites of concepts and practices that anticipate post- and non-capitalist social relations, which would mean not payment for domestic labour or considering art just another form of work, but the dissolution of art and labour as separate and incompatible types of activity. Yet, paradoxically, in order to keep such a horizon in focus, it might be necessary to insist precisely on their incompatibility at a time when the ‘hollowing out’ performed by financialized modes of accumulation insist that in the general submission to the imperatives of the value-form, any distinctions or subjectivities that cannot be conflated with the anthropology of capital do not exist, and ‘crisis’ is simply an opportunity to impose this dogma more ruthlessly than ever.

NOTES

GDR Diary 2: Read-In for the possibility of community


Last Friday I participated in the Read-In and the group addressed several important issues from this experience in the feedback session after “reading-in”: the almost instant legitimization of the reading group when referred to as an artistic project, having as its consequence the access to an otherwise unvisitable private space; the legitimacy and ethical implications of bringing a preselected text into our host’s house versus following the host’s own suggestion, albeit with the risk of unexpectedly transforming a speculative action into the provision of a social service; the process of reading a text (its collective translation, interpretation and discussion) as a mediator of the interaction between hosts and visitors, and a subtle articulator of class, gender and ethnicity positions; photographic documentation that has archival intentions versus its possible interpretation as one of observation or surveillance and so on.




The search for community in Yang’s work is connected to a sense of place that is constructed by an individual experience struggling with abstract parameters. In this sense it is imaginary, but not utopian, and is best described through the notion of a “community of absence” or “negative community,” which is characterized by a lack or a denial of any sense of belonging. Einarsson and Yang use concepts of a dystopian, imaginary community in their work, which open up a space of potentiality. (…) The diversity and creativity of participation in experimental communities, the playful “care of the self” of informal communities, and the being-together of imaginary communities that build on the state of absence, correspond to a fragmented and agonistic public space. The concept of a “community” that refuses to function as a manipulative mass united by a common identity eventually implies the potential of resistance. (Nina Möntmann, “Transforming Communities”, 2007, pp. 50-1).

In “A Small Dictionary for Haegue Yang”, Doryun Chong (2008) also points to of the idea of community in Yang’s work. A community is an entity — a concept — that can be empowering and potent, idealistic and utopian, dysfunctional and even destructive. Despite the generally positive social implications it holds, the idea of community is at once complex and oversimplistic, strong and fragile. (…) Yang interprets what she calls the “community of absence” as a “community of the plural that shares nothing but ongoing self-examination and a strange kind of optimism”. Her interpretation is partly inspired by discussions between Maurice Blanchot and Jean-Luc Nancy around Georges Bataille, specifically in Nancy’s La communauté desoeuvré and Blanchot’s La communauté inavouable. Nancy’s reading of Bataille is critically indebted to Blanchot’s notion of désoeuvrement (…). Through this notion, both thinkers try to grasp Bataille’s concept of a community that does not rely on “work”, which is central to the idea of communism and necessarily defines human beings as producers. (…) It is in this light that Blanchot and Nancy try to steer “community” away from “work” and toward “inoperative” “nonwork” that must remain “unavowable” – that is, the community that refuses to acknowledge itself. Both see that when the community is recognized as such, it ceases to be. (pp. 143-4)


24 May 2010, 23.29 — posted by Mafalda

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