‘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.


presentation of the book 'seeing studies'

Seeing studies is Casco’s ongoing project divided in 3 overlaping chapters: Spatial – the exhibition at Casco, Printed – the publication and Spoken – the workshops.

Last week ‘seeing studies’ workshops took place both at Casco and at the GDR apartment. Four intriguing and inspiring days filled with presentations, screenings, conversations and a large and participative audience.

Wednesday, 19th of January

The starting day of the workshops took place at the GDR apartment. Here, the expected publication ‘seeing studies’ was presented after Ashkan Sepahvand’s delicious Turkish soup. Seeing studies book was designed by berlin based design studio image-shift and iranian graphic designer Farhad Fozouni, it departs from an Iranian schoolbook, facsimile printed, to which Natasha Sadr Haghigian and Ashkan Sepahvand asked several contributors to add proposals: words, pictures, numbers, objects, practices and concepts.

soup kitchen

Thursday, 20th of January

The afternoon of the second day was used for a workshop with a group of students from DAI (Dutch Art Institute) and HKU (Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht) with Natasha Sadr Haghighian and Ashkan Sepahavand, after discussing ‘seing studies’ project the workshop followed creatively at the GDR kitchen. In the evening two short films by Mohsen Makhmalbaf were screened: ‘The School that Blew Away’ and ‘Selection of Images from the Qajar Dynasty’ and finalized a presentation by iranian artist and ‘seeing studies’ interlocutor Shahab Fotouhi.

workshop with students from DAI and HKU

screening of 2 Mohsen Maklmalbaf movies

Friday, 21st of January

The third day of workshops initiated with a introductory presentation by Natasha Sadr Haghighian and Ashkan Sepahvand followed by a skype conversation with art historian Oya Pancaroglu. After kimchi experiments in the GDR kitchen by director of Casco Binna Choi, iranian film maker Reza Haeri screened two of his movies – ‘Final Fitting’ and ‘All Restrictions End’.

presentation by Natasha Sadr Haghighian and Ashkan Sepahvand

kimchi kitchen

Saturday, 22nd of January

On the last day of the workshops Casco was pleased with the presence and interlude of director of dOCUMENTA (13) Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, which was pursued by conversation with guest contributor Eric de Bruyn, Natascha Sadr Haghighian and Ashkan Sepahvand, the screening of ‘Tree Dance’ film by Gordon Matta Clark and presentation by American art historian and ‘seeing studies’ contributor Molly Nesbit.

interlude by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, artistic director of dOCUMENTA (13)

conversation with Eric de Bruyn, Natascha Sadr Haghighian and Ashkan Sepahvand


Cup of tea no. #5 Elbert Hogendoorn, Secretary of the Utrecht beekeepers association (weekdays he works for the State Institute for Public Health.)

Waiting for the Honey...

Domestic bees filling honey cells, as seen through the 'looking glass' beehive

I went to visit Elbert while he was giving a demonstration about beekeeping at the orchard de Groen Ham in Haarzuilens (a burb of Utrecht, 5 km west of the GDR flat). Over cups of cordial and tea, Elbert enlightened me about the honey geography of Utrecht. I told him about how I’m trying to find an urban honey source, preferably lime flower in the city. Elbert informs me that there are small-scale beekeepers in Utrecht who keep hives on their balconies and roofs, as well as hives that are maintained for educational purposes. But all the beekeepers are, at this point, waiting the next batch of honey. Given Utrecht’s predominance of lime trees which are all blossoming right this very moment, this next inner city harvest will contain an inevitably high percentage of lime flower honey. In the past Elbert had tried to exploit the lime flower along Utrecht’s longest lime tree avenue (the Maliebaan) by asking the nuns to put his hives in their neighbouring convent garden.

Elbert Hogendoorn with an 'observation hive' showing the domestic hierarchy of bees

Beekeeping is touted by the Utrecht beekeeping association as a life skill, they give courses which sets one in good stead as a beginner beekeeper. An interesting reference I came across recently to the propriety of beekeeping as a life skill and also to Elbert;s anecdote of keeping the hives in a convent garden: which was a convent-run school for girls in Buckinghamshire offering beekeeping courses as a ‘homecraft’ by. Beekeeping may have been especially attractive during this period of wartime shortage. (Source: Bee, by Claire Preston).

26 June 2010, 22.19 — posted by Wietske