THE GRAND
DOMESTIC REVOLUTION

THE GRAND
DOMESTIC REVOLUTION

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

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.

NON-ACTION

Graziela Kunsch


I’ve been rehearsing to write this testimonial for some weeks now. Today, it occurred to me that I have resisted producing this text because the very idea that flat 18B Bemuurde Weerd OZ will close feels very strange; or that The Grand Domestic Revolution will come to an end. I don’t think that things should last forever, on the contrary. But I would like to have spent more time there, to have been able to return and dedicate more time to reflection about all the complexities implied in this research before writing about my experience.

My first work at Casco was a small gesture of reaction to the Many Furniture project, which comprised of a handful of furniture pieces scattered around the house, each piece painted according to a colour system, indicating the intended different uses: one set allocated to the individual artist dwelling in the space, another for the collective use of artists, another for families, and further bigger sets for use in the days of public activity. I had proposed to experiment the individual artist system, the ones painted bright red. I made use of a red single bed, a red table, a red chair and a red stool, which served as a bedside table. I felt the lack of a space to keep the books I was using during the residency, so I decided to paint part of the bookshelf - originally painted lilac, the colour for art collectives – red. Besides, as a small protest against the system instituted by the architects, I painted one of the many stools for the days of public activity yellow. This action was dubbed 'More Furniture - red bookshelf and yellow stool'.

The supposed addition suggested by the word “More” was, in fact, only a transformation of the colour – or of the use – of the furniture already in the flat, no new piece of furniture was added to the space.

When I returned to the house, more than a year later, it was inevitable to notice that a lot of stuff had piled up. New furniture, objects produced or used by artists in their work, objects of personal use scattered around the house, left behind by the residents. The slippers were no longer used, one walked around on shoes in all rooms. On the walls, the same pieces of paper from my first residence – newspaper cutouts, posters, maps – overlapped by more recent newspaper cutouts, posters and maps. In the dirty linen basket in the bathroom there were many pieces of bed linen, towels and dishcloths to be washed. I joked with Casco staff that they could hold a new town meeting to decide whether they preferred to keep the works of art or the furniture in the flat, a proposal I dubbed 'Less Furniture'.

Joking aside, I needed to start work. I cleaned the inside of the house, I changed the places of all furniture around, opened all windows and doors and let the air in. I put away the carpet in the middle of the sitting room, took many pieces of papers off the walls and separated all personal objects I found – which I called “strange objects” – on a piece of cloth. I left the computer off for a week, so as to de-accelerate a bit and really take in that experience in its full. Opposite to what can be imagined, I was not preparing the space in order to start working in my art project. The very cleansing and sorting out stuff was my work.

I realised that I would not carry out much on my own, so I called for a collective cleaning work day. The idea was to suggest the cleaning of three specific spaces in the house: the front window gutters, the areas around the roof/balcony and the external entrance of the flat, which would include the common corridor of the building, the staircase and the entrance itself. In the day of the collective cleansing, only Yolande turned up to work. It would not be possible to clean out all that was planned, but I proposed that we did as much as possible in the period of time we spent together. I created the rule that we would not talk about anything that was not strictly linked to cleansing, such as “fetch me the broom” or “can you give me a hand here?”. We removed the dirt set in the gutter, the dust on the windows and we proceeded to the house’s external area. We swept all leaves lying by the roof and started to clean the balcony, which held many vases containing dead water, dead plants and broken objects/pieces of objects. There were many things forgotten in crevices/corners, just accumulating. From that space alone four rubbish sacks were filled up.

It was not possible to clean the entrance all the way up to the flat before the end of my residency and this remained as a challenge to everyone who was using that space. The wardrobes also held a lot of stuff and I did not know what could be donated or used afresh in the flat, what should be thrown away or recycled. Besides, the aim was not to leave the flat completely clean, but only to activate another perception of that space, reveal it. To work with domestic (or public) space is not necessarily a matter of what we put in the space, but, before, how it can be created and recreated.


Series of non-actions
1. turning off
2. cleaning
3. sorting out
4. opening windows
5. having a shower
6. eating
7. sleeping


NOTES

GDR Diary 4: Out loud


I believe that, in a way, most of the GDR library’s documents can be read as possible approaches or tentative answers to the question that was mentioned in one of the earlier posts — how can a community of readers be transformed into a community of engaged, yet post-utopian individuals?

On the one hand, it seems that most of the texts that comprise the library share the underlying assumption that reacting towards specific emergencies is not sufficient; these authors (political activists, artists, architects, designers, art historians, writers and others) seem concerned with the redefinition itself of the structuring of space (here, following Lefebvre, conceived as a political, social, economic and physical construct), which presupposes a certain detachment vis-à-vis one’s own situatedness. I am thinking about books such as Democracy — A Project by Group Material (1999), Did Someone Say Participate?: An Atlas of Spatial Practice (2006), Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism (2008) and Make Everything New: A Project on Communism (2006), for example. But on the other, the subject of criticality is an individual, an embodied actor. As constrained, as busy, as alive as any of us.

Inspired by last week’s Read-In, I was reminded of this when reading parts of Dolores Hayden’s The Grand Domestic Revolution (1982), and decided to read the beginning of its introduction out loud as a way of reflecting on the materiality of the lives of the women whose struggles the book describes. My reading is imperfect, incomplete, unaccomplished: The Grand Domestic Revolution- Introduction Δ.


25 May 2010, 23.37 — posted by Mafalda

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