If You Lived Here Still..., an archive project by Martha Rosler
Opening 16 January 2010, 17.00
Open forum 17 January 2010, 14.00–17.00 (please scroll down*)
Casco's first project in the year in which it celebrates its 20th anniversary looks back at a project that took place 20 years ago on another continent. Organized as part of our year-long programme ‘User’s Manual: The Grand Domestic Revolution’, Casco’s contribution to Utrecht Manifest–Biennial for Social Design, this signals another step in exploring how critical art, design and cultural practice affect society.
Through the years 1989-1991, artist Martha Rosler organized her project ‘If You Lived Here…’ at the Dia Art Foundation in New York City. ‘If You Lived Here…’ was a seminal group project on housing, homelessness and the systems and conditions underlying them such as gentrification, bureaucratic complicity or non-compliance and increasing privatisation of the public sector. It took a radical approach toward art and institutions of that time, in a mode that might be called cross-disciplinary and “participatory”. The archive project by Martha Rosler at Casco, initiated by Anton Vidokle and first presented at e-flux’s New York space last autumn, provides an opportunity to revisit Rosler's undertaking and interrogate its legacy. Besides the archival materials that expose the organisational and research processes behind the project, more research documents that Rosler has assembled or solicited others to contribute over the last 20 years are installed for close reading at Casco. These also include new materials gathered in Utrecht.
Martha Rosler and her practice since the late 60’s have become essential references for socially engaged art practice and critical feminist positions. Through her numerous works and projects, traversing diverse working methods from documentary to performative, literary to organisational, Rosler has progressively sought ways to reconnect the private and public spheres, domestic space and media culture and the urban environment in confrontation with shifting political and economic realities. ‘If You Lived Here…’ forms part of this practice but stands out for its complex array of activities, consisting of a cycle of three exhibitions, a book, open forums and public events such as film screenings and poetry readings.
The project was remarkable in involving diverse groups of people — artists, advocacy and activist groups, homeless people, community groups, schoolchildren, architects, urban planners and journalists —, many of whom were already dealing with the questions the project raised. In defiance of the territorial question of art versus non-art, a number of visual materials, ranging from painting, photography, videos, newspapers, advertisements and data graphs to architectural models and temporary offices and library spaces, filled the exhibition hall. The exhibition programme went beyond the usual “art gallery pattern.” Rather than it being a contemplative field for a set of objects and documentary representations, ‘If You Lived Here…’ transformed the gallery into a terrain that supported participation and intervention and thus created a new situation of collective empowerment, no matter how fleeting.
"How could such a thing (homelessness, displacement) be happening – particularly now, as the Western mass media are gloating over the collapse of the Soviet model of communism and victory of “our way of life”?... And what can be done?" - from the introductory essay by Martha Rosler in the book ‘If You Lived Here: The City in Art, Theory and Social Activism’ (1991)
After two decades, now that this victory is not self-evident any longer and new articulations of “communism” are called for, these questions resonate more strongly than ever. It is a good moment to take another careful look at ‘If You Lived Here...’.
Open forum 17 January, 14.00 – 17.00
In the spirit of continuation of the form of public discussion in ‘If You Lived Here…’, an open forum will take place after the opening to share the history of the project as well as to develop the comparative view between past and present, between the US context and Utrecht and else where in the post-welfare conditions of Europe.
Martha Rosler was born in New York, where she lives today. She studied until 1965 at the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and received her master of fine arts degree at the University of California in San Diego in 1974. Since 1980, Martha Rosler has been teaching at Rutgers University, New Brunswick/New Jersey at the Städelschule, Frankfurt, at the Columbia University and at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Rosler's works were shown at the Documenta 7 and 12 in Kassel, and at the Whitney Biennales of 1987 and 1989. In her project "If You Lived Here...," shown at the Dia Art Foundation of New York in 1989, Rosler involved artists and film/video makers but also architects, activists, street artists, and the homeless, thus accentuating communicative and activist aspects. In 1999, the Generali Foundation (together with the Ikon Gallery of Birmingham, England) organized the first comprehensive retrospective of the artist's work, which toured art institutions throughout Europe and the United States.
In her performances, videos, textual works, photographs, and installations, Rosler confronts her audiences with political subjects and the role of the media, analyzing quotidian, domestic, and urban life from a feminist viewpoint not altogether devoid of humor.
Anton Vidokle was born in Moscow and arrived to the United States with his parents in 1981. His work has been exhibited in shows such as the Venice Biennale, Dakar Biennale, Lodz Biennale, and at Tate Modern, London; Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana and Musée d’art Modern de la Ville de Paris, among others. With Julieta Aranda, he organized e-flux video rental, which traveled to numerous institutions including Portikus, Frankfurt; KunstWerk, Berlin; Extra City, Antwerp; Carpenter Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; and others. As founding director of e-flux, he has produced projects such as Next Documenta Should Be Curated By An Artist, Do it, Utopia Station poster project and organized An Image Bank for Everyday Revolutionary Life and Martha Rosler Library. As co-curator for Manifesta 6, Vidokle initiated research into education as site for artistic practice. Later, in response to the cancellation of Manifesto 6, Vidokle set up an independent project in Berlin called United Nations plaza - a twelve-month project involving more than a hundred artists, writers, philosophers and diverse audiences. Located behind a supermarket in East Berlin, UNP’s program featured numerous seminars, lectures, screenings, book presentations and various projects.
Lukasz Stanek graduated in architecture and philosophy from universities in Kraków (PL), Weimar (D), and Münster (D). He has collaborated with several architectural offices in Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. After doing research at the Faculties of Architecture at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (CH) and the Delft University of Technology (NL), he has recently submitted the dissertation ‘Henri Lefebvre and the Concrete Research of Space: Urban Theory, Empirical Studies, Architecture Practice’. Currently, he is a researcher at the Chair for Architecture Theory TU Delft, and at the Department of Theory at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (NL). His research interests in Henri Lefebvre straddle philosophy, planning, and architecture. He has published articles on city building, mass media, and the production of space in former state-socialist cities like Nowa Huta, Poland. He was also the co-founder and editor of the first issue of Footprint - Delft School of Design Journal.
Andreas Müller is an architect, living in Berlin. He is a co-founder and publisher of the architecture magazine ‘An Architektur’ and part of the ‘Cooperative for Display Politics.’ His work as an exhibition designer explores the possibilities of public mediation, spatial narrations and educational approaches in the medium of an exhibition. Currently he is conducting a research project on participation in architecture at the Jan van Eyck Academy. Muller has designed the following exhibitions: “Utopie und Monument 1”, Steirischer Herbst, Graz 2009; ‘An Atlas of Radical Geography’, Casco Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht 2009; ’In the Desert of Modernity. Colonial Planning and After’, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin 2008 and Abattoirs Casablanca 2009 (with Jesko Fezer and Anna Voswinkel).
Graziela Kunsch is an artist based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She is currently developing the Projeto Mutirao, a never-ending video project formed by ‘excerpts’- one take videos - that show the collective production of a new city. The project is presented to different audiences and contexts and each time Graziela chooses different excerpts to show and start a conversation. She also assumes curatorial and editorial roles as forms of her artistic practice. Between 2001-2003 she opened her house as a ‘public space’ (Casa da Grazi) and there she organized many residencies and exhibitions, involving collaborations from all around Brazil. Since then she has opened her personal library for public use, and brings parts of the library to exhibitions. Kunsch is also co-organizer of the project ‘Art and the Public Sphere’ and editor of the magazine Urbania.
Wendelien van Oldenborgh
Wendelien van Oldenborgh is an artist, based in Rotterdam, whose practice explores social relations through an investigation of gesture in the public sphere. Van Oldenborgh films communication and interaction between individuals, often against the backdrop of a unique (public) location. In this way her work investigates the political, social and cultural relationships in our society and how these are openly manifested through everyday social intercourse. Recent projects include Instruction, (Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam 2009), No False Echoes (Van Abbemusem, Eindhoven 2008), Lecture/Audience/Camera (Muhka, Antwerp, 2008), Maurits Film, (in co-production with MAMAM, Recife and Capacete, Rio de Janeiro, 2008), Maurits Script (Casco, Utrecht, 2006) and The Basis For A Song (produced for Die Regierung, Witte de With, Rotterdam 2005).Van Oldenborgh has also exhibited at São Paulo Bienale 2008, Apexart New York, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen Rotterdam, MAK Vienna and Künstlerhaus Stuttgart. She has recently participated in the Istanbul Bienale 2009.
The Casco programme is generously supported by the Mondriaan Foundation and the Utrecht City Council. 'If You Lived Here Still…' at Casco is made possible with kind support from the K.F. Hein Fund, Utrecht Manifest and Utrecht Consortium.
Special thanks to Daniel Wiley, Mafalda Damaso, Kim De Haas, Doris Denekamp.
Hermes Lecture November 2010
Casco is pleased to announce that Martha Rosler has been invited to give the third lecture of the Hermes Lecture series. Her talk is scheduled for Sunday, 14 November 2010, at 4 pm at the Provinciehuis in 's-Hertogenbosch. This lecture will coincide with a survey exhibition of Martha Rosler’s work at Stedelijk Museum ’s-Hertogenbosch, which opens on the same day as the lecture.