The Grand Domestic Revolution GOES ON

28 October–16 December 2010 / Utrecht
CHECK IN: 28 & 29 October 19:00-21:00; 30 October 15:00–17:00 
READ-IN: 30 October 18:00–21:00 
HOME CINEMA: 31 October 14:00–18:00 
FORUM: 21 November 14:00–18:00 
ACTION: 15 & 16 December 10:00–18:00 
Reservations are required for all events as space is limited, please contact Cindy van Rooijen. For ACTION, advanced inquiry on the terms of participation is necessary. Please contact Yolande Van der Heide.

The Grand Domestic Revolution GOES ON is a midway manifestation of User’s Manual: The Grand Domestic Revolution (GDR), Casco’s long term “living research” project developed in partnership with Utrecht Manifest: Biennial for Social Design. The project explores the potential of the domestic sphere as a locus for creating “the commons,” a self-organized form of sharing both material and immaterial resources, by means of artistic, organizational and spatial design operations.  

The project takes its title from a book by architectural historian Dolores Hayden on the late 19th century material feminist design movement in the United States that communalized the spaces of isolated domestic work by building public kitchens, communal apartments, cooperative childcare facilities, organizing their own working and living cooperatives and were involved with town planning. GDR recalls this multifaceted social movement, and by means of action research, artistic investigation, theory and design/architectural practice, searches for other forms of living that subvert capitalist organizations of society. What began as a year-long project in October 2009 continues, and will culminate in an exhibition and publication set for October 2011 to share the research outcomes and potentially act as a catalyst for further projects. An apartment rented as the headquarters of the project continues to be available for residency and visit. 

GDR GOES ON is conceived as a reflection of the major activities and investigations developed thus far by articulating key questions through public discussions in different formats and takes place at various sites throughout the city of Utrecht. 

CHECK IN 

28, 29, 30 October 

CHECK IN is a series of temporary communal occasions where key issues emerging from GDR research are discussed and re-articulated in close relation to specific domestic spaces in Utrecht, including the GDR apartment, the Rietveld Schröderhuis (RSH) and the house next door to the RSH. Each occasion highlights selected ongoing activities of GDR that create transgressive instances through performing their actions at the boundaries of private and public space. Hosted by past and future GDR residents/researchers and guests comprising artists, theorists, activists and other practitioners, the CHECK INs challenge perceptions of everyday domestic activities as diminutive, isolated and unimportant work; but also go beyond romanticized notions of this sphere. The event, the spaces and routes between them also “speak to” and inform each occasion. 

The term “check in” functions here as a way to touch base, reflect and take stock of the GDR processes and progress; as well as playing with its meaning of taking up temporary residency in, for example, a hotel. 

CHECK IN 

Assembly (The Grand Domestic Revolution Goes On)
Thursday 28 October 19:00–21:00 
ACU, Voorstraat 71 
By Agency 

Agency will summon things which speculate around the question: Can cooks be considered as authors? Thing 000848 (Healthy Habit Cookbook) and Thing 000851 (Great Tasting Recipes) will convene an assembly in order to bear witness. These things concern a controversy around the writing of cooking recipes. Agency invites a diverse group of concerned guests at ACU as the “translators” for these things: “Bouillon Magazine” editor Will Jansen, chef Dennis Steur, copyright researchers Tim Braakman and Marieke de Rooy (curatorial collective Trailer), Samir Allioui and Dirk Poot (Dutch Pirate Party) and others. 

Agency is the generic name of a Brussels based agency, founded in 1992 by Belgian artist Kobe Matthys. Agency constitutes an evolving list of things that “witness hesitation” of the bifurcation of nature into classifications of “nature” and “culture.” This ongoing list of things by Agency is based on controversies, affairs, lawsuits, cases and so forth around intellectual property, in which this bifurcation has been discussed. 

CHECK IN on weaving, gifting and activism 

Friday 29 October 19:00–21:00 
De Katoen Fabriek, Oudegracht, 382, nearby Twijnstraat 
Hosted by Travis Meinolf and Kirsty Robertson 

Self proclaimed “action weaver” Travis Meinolf (Berlin) hosts a weaving workshop as a continuation of his GDR residency entitled Cottage Industry: Making Accommodations, while art historian and researcher Kirsty Robertson (London, Ontario) shares her knowledge through a conversation on the links between textiles, contemporary activism and networked technologies. Practiced through experimental forms of exchange, modes of pleasurable production and appropriations of its stereotyped role as a conservative domestic activity, textiles are ripe with problems and potentials as subversive politicized action. Through weaving, talking and reflecting, Travis and Kirsty will contextualize the practice of “textiles as action” with a discussion about its relationship to globalization and alternative economies. 

 

CHECK IN on care, working and precarity 

Saturday 30 October  
15:00 Rietveld Schröderhuis, Prins Hendriklaan 50 
16:00 Apartment next door to Rietveld Schröderhuis 
Hosted by Ruth Buchanan and Marina Vishmidt 

Last year artist Ruth Buchanan presented a performance, Lying Freely I: Nothing is Closed, in the form of an alternative guided tour through the Rietveld Schröderhuis (RSH), mobilizing the spatial structures and elements of the RSH with a script that evoked a relationship of openness between the private and public sphere. Continuing this investigation into forms of private dwelling, as well as her further involvement with GDR, Ruth creates a radio play to be performed at the RSH. This piece will explore the space between what is “close” and “familiar” in relation to precarious conditions of life against the backdrop of shifting “urban-scapes.” The performance of the radio play is succeeded by a lecture by Marina Vishmidt connecting the notions of art, labor, care and the neoliberal economic processes they are subjected to, framing a discussion of alternative potentials for contemporary living. Dinner is provided following the event. 

READ-IN 

Saturday 30 October 18:00–21:00 
Starting location: Apartment next door to Rietveld Schröderhuis 
With Annette Krauss, Hilde Tuinstra and other “Read-in”ers 

This session marks a continuation of an ongoing activity at GDR called Read-in, an evolving experiment in group reading initiated and guided by artist Annette Krauss and theater maker Hilde Tuinstra. The participants (“Read-in”ers) invite you to delve into a process of unusual social interaction involving ringing neighbors’ doorbells to request the use of their home for the reading session and collective reading and reflection on the issues and questions that emerge from the experience. Through conceptualizing the permeation of private space and communalising a typically solitary activity, the Read-in practice calls attention to the relationship between the content of a book and the reading of a place, opening up new understandings of the material, affective, and political dimensions of “reading together.” 

HOME CINEMA on films about domestic labor 

Sunday 31 October 14:00–18:00 
GDR apartment, Bemuurde Weerd oz 18b 
With Phil Collins, Michèle Faguet and Tamar Guimarães 

HOME CINEMA is one GDR’s regular activities where the screening of films that touch upon different aspects of domesticity, neighborhood organization, urban planning and alternative politics take place. On the occasion of GDR GOES ON, films that deal with domestic labor issues in the context of a global chain of labor economy are screened in the intimate and informal environment of the GDR apartment. With screenings of Soy Mi Madre (2008) by Berlin-based artist Phil Collins and Canoas (2010) by Copenhagen-based artist Tamar Guimarães in conversation with curator Michèle Faguet, we hope to explore the aesthetic and structural affects of architecture, popular culture and the ways in which they influence our imaginings and realities of the experience of domestic service work. Can such aesthetic investigations offer ways to rethink the potential agency of actors within these realms? Domestic workers and labor union organizers in the Netherlands are invited to join the post-screening discussion to bring to light local experiences and issues.  

FORUM Dwelling in the Commons 

Sunday 21 November 14:00–18:00 
De Kersentuin (Co-housing residence) Atalantahof 11, Utrecht*  
14:00–18:00 

With Levan Asabashvili (Urban Reactor), Atelier d’architecture autogérée (Constantin Petcou & Doina Petrescu), Co-Habitation Strategies (Phillip Luehl & Guillermo Delgado), Anna Dijkhuis, Janna Graham (with Åbäke) and Nazima Kadir 

This FORUM gathers a group of practitioners from different disciplines – architecture, art, activism, academia and social organization – who work in the context of neighborhoods or shared space to discuss forms and meanings of “communal living” in our time. Critical consideration of policies that promote private home ownership and so-called “social cohesion” inform the current nature of the debate. 

The point of departure for the forum is the contemporary movement of co-housing in the Netherlands, which will be introduced by Anna Dijkhuis, member of FGW (The Dutch Federation of Intentional Communities/Federatie Gemeenschappelijk Wonen, in Dutch). The number of co-housing and intentional living groups in the Netherlands has grown to 10,000 across the country since the 1960s. These communities are often self-organized, with residents negotiating their multiple desires with regards to their needs for privacy and commitment to co-operative ideals. What kind of radical democratic potentials do these models offer? In what ways do participatory processes affect the architectural design process and vice versa? How do these communities differ from the communes of the 1960s and common-interest developments such as gated communities? 

Squatted housing has a well-known history in the Netherlands where co-habitants develop informal ways of occupying and sharing buildings. The collective aspect of this living practice also operates with political principles, although in varying degrees. Squatting has recently reached a critical turn with the new Dutch law banning the practice as of October 2010. Although the level of execution of this law is still ambiguous, it is timely to address what this means for the “co-living” strategies of these D.I.Y.-oriented individuals and communities.  

What is common in both examples, as well as the contexts of the invited participants, is that the place of “home” or “community” is the physical and conceptual site where social and economic forms of living are inscribed, exercised and negotiated within political paradigms. From this framework we ask this group of diverse participants to discuss the context of working with their particular neighborhoods and communities, and how they might operate towards a notion of a “commons.” We will also explore ways in which alternative concepts and forms of dwelling can move beyond their semi-insular structures and extend to the level of street, town and the city. 

Levan Asabashvili is a Delft-trained Georgian architect concerned with urban living conditions. He is a member of Urban Reactor, a self-proclaimed public activist group with a critical stance towards the architecture profession and the socio-spatial reality in which we live.

Atelier d’architecture autogérée (aaa) is a research and action platform revolving around urban mutations and the cultural, social and political practices emerging in the contemporary city, co-founded by Constantin Petcou and Doina Petrescu in 2001. Its team has a variable geometry and includes architects, artists, researchers, residents and users of the spaces it creates. 

Cohabitation Strategies is a non-profit international co-operative for socio-spatial development based in Rotterdam. The co-operative focuses its actions, designs and research inside the conditions of conflict and exclusion of the contemporary city whilst simultaneously strategising to overcome the traditional bifurcation of planning and development, bringing together architecture and radical urban design with experts from professional, academic, and artistic domains. 

Anna Dijkhuis has been involved in the co-housing movement since 1975. She is governing board member at the Federatie Gemeenschappelijk Wonen (FGW) and member of the Landelijke Vereniging Centraal Wonen (LVCW). 

Janna Graham is the education projects curator of Serpentine Gallery in London where she curated The Urban Transformation and the Politics of Care, a project that involved design collective Åbäke, and other artists, designers and architects working in collaboration with elderly people, market traders, care workers and young people to swap skills and develop ideas for social and architectural change. She is also a member of the audio action collaborative Ultra Red.  

Nazima Kadir is a PhD candidate at the Department of Anthropology at Yale University and a visiting fellow at the International Institute of Social History (IRISH). She is currently doing ethnographic research for her dissertation that concerns the squatters’ movement in Amsterdam based on two years of participant observation and fieldwork in an Amsterdam squatter’s community.  

*Directions to FORUM venue: Take Bus 28 from Utrecht Central Station in the direction of “Vleuterweide” and get off at “Westerparklaan.” Look for the group of yellow houses with red roofs (2 min. walk from stop). 

ACTION Turn-Key Home/Two in One 

Led by Katerina Seda 
Wednesday 15 & Thursday 16 December 10:00–18:00 
Utrecht & Puttershoek 

Please note the change of the date due to the circumstances of the senior participants. For further information on participating in this ACTION, please contact Yolande van der Heide.

Artist Katerina Seda often collaborates with specific groups of people to create rules for games or instructions in order to realize new forms of collective agency. Although seemingly authoritative and absurd, the rules are often developed in a process of conversation with the residents/participants and mutually constituted as a device to “act together.” For User’s Manual: The Grand Domestic Revolution, Katerina engages a neighborhood in a Dutch town called Puttershoek, in which a new quarter is being renewed, consisting of a retirement home, pre-school, apartments, among other facilities, towards the “official” goal of bringing together young and old generations of people. Although the development has increased the amount of private space in these structures, the relationships between residents are steadily receding.  

Katerina, along with the Puttershoek residents and workers, problematize the “renewed” structures – which they find impersonal, isolating and enclosing in their aesthetic and functional dimensions – and conceive of ways to respond to this condition over the year. The first action in this process assembles the senior residents of this district with helpers from Utrecht in Puttershoek, forming a “common concentration,” to plan an intervention that renegotiates the social spatial agency that previously existed in the old structures, with the new design. 

MIDTERM MANUAL 

This publication is a reflection and MIDTERM MANUAL for ongoing artistic and design research and activities for User’s Manual: The Grand Domestic Revolution. Features include surveys of contemporary cooperative and co-housing movements, an essay linking artistic and domestic labor and an interview with Dolores Hayden, author of the “original” The Grand Domestic Revolution, a chronicle of 19th century material feminist design movement in the United States. With an overview of the project processed thus far and extracts offered from the evolving project library, this publication is a proposition for readers to engage with the collective research process of GDR. 

Edited by Binna Choi and Maiko Tanaka 
Texts by Peter Bakker, Binna Choi, John Curl, Dolores Hayden, Maiko Tanaka, Marina Vishmidt 
Designed by Scott Ponik 
English, b/w, 144 pages 
Co-published by Bedford Press and Casco 
ISBN: 978-1-907414-14-5 
Price: €12 
The publication is available at the 2010 New York Art Book Fair (5–7 November) and is available to order. Please email Cindy van Rooijen.  

Colophon:

GDR GOES ON is made possible by a number of collaborations: CHECK IN is organized with the support of Dutch Design Double and Centraal Museum and ACTION is realized in collaboration with SKOR. MIDTERM MANUAL is co-published by Casco and Bedford Press. Agency’s participation in GDR has been developed as part of Circular Facts, supported by The European Union Culture Programme.

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