‘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.


Chinese keywords cooking workshops with Shenzhen based artist Xu Tan
Workshop 1: 20 July, 18.00-20.30h
Workshop 2: 23 July, 14.00h-16.30h

Sample keywords, 2011

This month's TOWN MEETING (usually on the last Saturday of the month) takes place a bit earlier due to Casco’s short summer holiday. For July our current GDR resident artist, Xu Tan mobilizes domestic sites of sociality by focusing his self-perpetuating mobile learning practice 'Keywords School' in and around the culture of Chinese restaurants. ‘Keywords School’, developed since 2005, involves research on “keywords” in contemporary Chinese culture. Culled from interviews with artists and others, the keywords have been collected for their demarcation of social values, frequency of use and political purchase. For GDR, Tan’s research into Chinese food cultures at the heart of different Dutch cities led into the key question “what is the relationship between popular food culture and politics?”.

The keywords cooking workshops are developed through his interviews in local Chinese restaurants and the people who work and eat in them. The sessions will involve Chinese chefs workshopping 'house specials' (zhou pai cai) while Xu Tan engages participants in questions about Chinese food in relation to histories of migration, domestic and foreign perspectives of food, (in)visibility of social groups, family networks, and gaps and offshoots in generational knowledge from and through the pervasive cultural food service industry. Participants and collaborators are invited to offer speculations and to re-code the meaning of chosen keywords and taste the resulting food.


Download full syllabus with chosen keywords here.

Workshop 1: "Talk doesn't cook rice." (Chinese Proverb)
House Special by Chef Mingfang van Dillen-Wang, Chinese Muur, Hilversum

  • Question 1: Is food a symbol of material life?
  • Question 2: What is behind the urge to preserve tradition?
  • Question 3: How does food enable social relations? What does eating together do?
  • Question 4: You are what you eat?
  • Question 5: Is the eating hall a public space?

Workshop 2: "The gentleman (Junzi) should stay away from the kitchen." (Confucius)
House Special by Chef Chi Ho Suen, TeWoSu, Utrecht

  • Question 1: Is food labour a domestic practice, an art?
  • Question 2: What is the connection between the kitchen, the eating hall and public space?
  • Question 3: In what ways is class, race and gender connected to food production and food service?
  • Question 4: Should one be picky about the food one eats?
  • Question 5: What is the relationship between food and freedom?

The material from the Utrecht interviews and workshops will manifest in a food service worker’s ‘User's Manual’ which will be published and distributed at the GDR exhibition. Through keywords Xu Tan aims to make visible unexplored, hidden and special terms of a political collective imaginary of food making, service and reproduction to be shared by those concerned.

More on Keywords School here.

Location TOWN MEETING JULY will take place at Casco, Nieuwekade 213-215, 3511RW Utrecht The Netherlands. Directions here.

RSVP is appreciated (email us at, but not required. The event is free and anyone is welcome to join!

*Questioning a quote by Mao Zhedong, “A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous.”

To receive more information about this and future TOWN MEETINGs, please email us at


Cup of tea no. #4 Floris Brekelmans, city ecologist

Perhaps cute cartoon rabbits are not so innocent after all.

Unlikely supply of 'morphine' on Nijntje square.

Well, we almost had a cup of tea if it weren’t for the sudden idea to cycle through inner city public spaces of Utrecht past some of the most wicked plant substances unbeknownst to the untrained passer-by.

Floris Brekelmans is urban ecologist and knows the vegetative and animal life of the city like the back of his hand. His research has focused on, but not limited to bats, grasshoppers, dragonflies, and the terrestrial ecology of the city and beyond. Floris lives in the neighbourhood. He stopped by the Grand Domestic Revolution and almost as soon as he had we got on our bicycles with Floris leading the way to show some of the special plant species that do well in Utrecht.

Nijntje Pleintje, down the street from GDR

We sniffed plants that smelled intensely of honey (yellow honey clover) to plants that smell on first whiff like coca-cola to the less appreciable smell of old goat-socks (sorry, I’ve forgotten their names already); to the opium poppies growing abundantly on Nijntje plein (the Dick Bruna Rabbit) and a prolific belladonna plant growing in an alleyway. Floris tells many things about the intelligence and spontaneous life of plants, the way plants cleverly manage to spread themselves beyond the borders of a cultivated garden or dropped from above in a fertile package of bird poo.

Somniferum sap (latex)

Floris will share some of his expertise on a medicinal plant tour of the Bemuurde weerd neighbourhood next Saturday 3 July. More will be posted about times and details of tour very soon.

Atropa belladonna flower. The highly toxic plant said to have been mixed with opium by witches to induce (visions of) flight

26 June 2010, 09.43 — posted by Wietske