‘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.


Housework report 1

Hi, this is Chris Lee.

Finally posting after my fourth day at the GDR house. I’ll be spending the next little while working here on “mining” the GDR library for research material. I’ve been scanning sections of books here that grab me after a short flip-through, so that I can spend more time with them later. What I’m then doing is “depositing” this scanned material into videos that I shot in the house (w/ another video from the library’s DVD collection playing in the background) so that what you get is a kind of “bundle” of information, which is shareable simply by copying the link, or embedding it on your blog, etc. The first one is here

Through doing this work—making videos, scanning jpgs, writing blog posts, which I consider here to be the production of digital social commodities—I hope to be able to think through and get a sense of the relationship between notions of the private vs. public (property), as well as the increasingly uncertain borders between the domestic space and the workplace, and the kinds of value that flow through them.

Well, I’ll be reporting over the next few days about my activities here, and I hope that anyone interested can help tease some ideas out of the work being done.

3 June 2010, 11.13 — posted by Chris

Housework report 2

OK! So here’s a couple more! I feel like making these is becoming a smoother process the more I do them. Just to illustrate: First I find a clip of a video that I feel like I can relate to some general research interest of mine. Then I set up the shot and hit record on the camera; dump that onto the computer, and convert it to a format I can view, which takes anywhere between 30mins. to an hour. In the meantime, I begin scanning the pages of the books I’ve found that I think relate to the clip I’ve shot (or could at least produce an interesting juxtaposition). As for how I choose the texts, that’s done while the previous video is being rendered (which takes anywhere between two and four hours). After doing three, I think I’ve managed to iron-out the major technical hiccups I was encountering.


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GDRTV three

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I’m also finding that inadvertently (or maybe inevitably, considering the general political orientation of the GDR library), some of the content of these videos kind of addresses some of the issues in making them. For example, the first one (GDRTV-one) tunes into the notion of property (in the case of these videos, intellectual property), while the film “La Chinoise,” takes place in an apartment which has been reconfigured (through paint and slogans) into an ostensibly revolutionary space. I don’t mean to suggest a parallel in this case that would figure making videos here as “revolutionary,” but what I am interested in is this reconfiguration, or as I think I mentioned in an earlier post, “re-tooling.” “Tool” here suggests a purposefulness, which is in this case the production of images as social commodities. To clarify, what I hope to do by making these videos is to connect with people who are interested in similar topics and to gradually develop research and dialogue around them…

Anyway, more soon!

These tables and bookshelf have been “retooled” as a set-up for the next video.

6 June 2010, 20.48 — posted by Chris

Housework report 3

Here’s the new one! I’m experimenting with adding an “extra” audio layer to the bundle. It’s crude, but it works. Go into you computer’s sound settings and look for the balance slider. When it’s on the right, you will hear the main audio track that corresponds to the video. When you slide it to the left, you will hear an audio track that comes from the same dvd, but a different video. So this one has a whole booklet, excerpts from another book, excerpts of a video (obscured by the books however), and two audio tracks.

GDRTV four

9 June 2010, 23.02 — posted by Chris

Housework report 4 — moving forward…

The last GDR library video bundle is finally available! The books were chosen on the basis that they address some notion of language. To some degree of contrast, the video excerpt is another one from La Chinoise, where Veronique speaks with Francis Jeanson about their respective future plans—they both plan to take actions/activities that are vastly different… anyway, how different are language and action? How useful is it to think of language as action and action as language?

GDRTV five

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13 June 2010, 23.24 — posted by Chris

Please download User’s Manual for Housework by Chris Lee here.


The well-experienced housekeeper of Utrecht: jam maker and house doctoress

Manual for house keeping and domestic pharmacy

The new, well-experienced housekeeper of Utrecht: jam (confiture) maker and house doctores shares her knowledge of all kinds of preparations of healthy dishes, desserts, sauces, jellies and confitures and at the same time the simplest and best medicines (De nieuwe welervarene Utrechtsche keuken-meid, confituurmaakster en huis-doctores: mededeelende eene menigte bereidingen van velerlei gezonde en smakelijke spijsen, nagerechte, saussen, geleijen, confituuren en tegelijk van de eenvoudigste en beste geneesmiddelen). This is the full title of a cookbook and a collection of domestic ‘remedies’ published in Utrecht in the 1769. What immediately came to my attention was that aside from the fact that this must be a very extensive manual for housekeeping, is the combination of cooking and home pharmacy. Domestic knowledge of medicines had a value that lost its ground with the dawn of the industrial age, before urban epidemics (as in the cholera epidemics of 19th century) gave rise to public health organisations and institutionalisation of power and knowledge. I’ve ordered a facsimile for the GDR library not out of sentimental nostalgia of pre-industrial housekeeping, but to understand a bit more the everyday knowledge that this user’s manual advocated about making dishes, jams and medical prescriptions.

28 June 2010, 20.18 — posted by Wietske