The Grand Domestic Revolution – User’s Manual (GDR)

6 November 2011–27 February 2012 / Casco HQ
Opening 5 November 2011, 18:00 

Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory cordially invites you to join us for the opening of the project exhibition The Grand Domestic Revolution – User’s Manual


In October 2009 Casco initiated The Grand Domestic Revolution – User’s Manual (GDR) in response to an invitation from Utrecht Manifest: Biennial for Social Design to develop a project that would question and challenge the very notion of social design. With the aim of re-articulating and exercising notions of the social, the public and the commons, and departing from the grounds of the domestic sphere, GDR evolved into a long-term research platform and residency exploring the urgent domestic concerns of today and the potential transformative ways to engage them. Inspired by the late nineteenth-century American “material feminist” movement which brought about what architectural historian Dolores Hayden later referred to as “the grand domestic revolution” by the communalising of kitchens, nurseries and housing, GDR focuses on the question of what difference a changed domestic sphere could bring to towns, cities and society at large today.  

After two years of “living research” residencies, home productions, town meetings and affinity actions, GDR opens up in an extensive exhibition to share the resulting proposals and paradoxes for a grand domestic revolution today. Casco invites all those who have a stake in transforming the conditions and status of the domestic sphere to challenge current divisions between our private and public spaces and to build new forms of living and working in common. 


For the first year of the project, we rented an apartment in the neighborhood of Casco as a symbolic and functional base inviting resident artists, designers, theorists, neighbors and local activists to build up an evolving and collaborative process of living research in the contemporary private domestic realm, with a special focus on the built environment and its boundaries. Growing into its second phase, GDR proceeded from the apartment base and moved further into the city of Utrecht and beyond, to connect to current social and political dynamics of private and public concern and hone our collaborative approaches in terms of collectivity, alliances, affinity and conflictual processes.  

From this, four main themes emerged that have become the lines of thought for engaging the large scope of GDR research, proposals and works thus far: 

– Domestic space: housing the commons and living together 
– Domestic work: invisible labor and working at home 
– Domestic property: struggles between ownership and usership 
– Domestic relations: extended families, neighbors versus networks  

The works produced, gathered and referenced for the GDR exhibition are made up of a combination of proposals, parallel pieces, historical paradigms and situated research material that confront and actualise the thematic threads above. Some works do this through paradoxical commentary and others by mobilizing movement. They all work together to conceive an exhibition of elements and positions that not only suggest why and how to make a domestic revolution, but also ask what position you as the visitor might take, from and beyond your own home base. 


Agency, Ask! (Actie Schone Kunsten) with Andreas Siekmann, Sepake Angiama and Sam Causer, Pauline Boudry /Renate Lorenz, Doris Denekamp and Arend Groosman, Domestic Workers Netherlands (part of FNV Bondgenoten) with Matthijs de Bruijne, Paul Elliman with Na Kim, Hans van Lunteren and Rob van de Steen, Casco-HKU Creative Lab “Extended Family,” Andrea Francke, Our Autonomous Life with Nazima Kadir and Maria Pask and evolving cooperative cast, Shiu Jin, Mary Kelly, Kleines Postfordistisches Drama, Germaine Koh, Graziela Kunsch, Wietske Maas, Gordon Matta-Clark, Travis Meinolf, Emilio Moreno, Read-in, Martha Rosler, Helke Sander, Katerina Šedá, Kyohei Sakaguchi, Patricia Sousa, Xu Tan, Valerie Tevere and Angel Nevarez, Mirjam Thomann, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Jort van der Laan, Agnès Varda, Werker Magazine, Vincent Wittenberg and Haegue Yang.  

Exhibition design is by Ruth Buchanan and Andreas Müller. Exhibition map and signage is developed by Åbäke. Curated by Binna Choi and Maiko Tanaka 


Plan your day to see the exhibition at the various venues!  

The works themselves will perform their positions in dialogue with the exhibition themes across Casco and other venues shared by our neighbors: 

1. Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory, Nieuwekade 213–215, Utrecht 

Casco is transformed into a living and working space, functioning as “home base” of the exhibition and further actions. It is also where GDR’s cooperative sitcom Our Autonomous Life? is produced and screened, and includes space for children and the GDR library. 

2. Volksbuurt Museum, Waterstraat 27–29, Utrecht 

The Volksbuurt Museum finds its seed in Committee Wijk C, founded in 1974 to preserve and recover the neighborhood, where Casco is also situated, in response to rapid urban renewal and demolition projects. GDR works will be cohabiting with the various documents and objects in this local folks’ museum. A fledgling GDR apartment “museum” is also annexed here! 

3. De Rooie Rat, Oudegracht 65, Utrecht 

De Rooie Rat is the oldest leftist political bookstore in the Netherlands, established in 1974 just up the canal from Casco. Works that call for action mingle with the inspiring books at De Rooie Rat! 

Opening hours 

Wednesday to Sunday 11:00–17:00 
(Sundays at De Rooie Rat, 12:00–17:00) 


Watch out for the following activities throughout the exhibition! We kindly request you to check our website before your visit for an up-to-date schedule. 

X Cooperative Sitcom Our Autonomous Life?  
5 November 2011, pilot premiere at Casco, 21:00 

GDR’s cooperatively produced situation comedy, Our Autonomous Life? premieres on the occasion of exhibition opening. Future episodes are broadcast monthly on RTV Utrecht and at Casco.  

Preview trailers will be screened at SKOR’s symposium Social Housing – Housing the Social on 4–5 November 2011, and Impakt Festival’s Panorama Programme on 4 November 2011. 

X First “Teach-in” by Read-in 
22 November 2011, starting from Casco at 19:00  

Alongside their monthly read-in actions, the Read-in collective organizes a series of “Teach-in”s with invited respondents relating to their research. The November session is facilitated by Annie Fletcher on the topic of feminist reading groups. 

X Kitchen 139 at W139, Amsterdam 
3–17 December 2011 

In conjunction with The Grand Domestic Revolution – User’s Manual, Amsterdam’s W139 transforms its premises into a communal kitchen for divergent communities in art, culture and other public sectors to exchange their concerns and knowledge and to imagine further different forms of living and working “after the revolution,” through the language of cooking and meal sharing.

X Assembly (The Grand Domestic Revolution)  
25 February 2012 

Agency, a Brussels-based organization established by artist Kobe Matthys in 1992, invites a diverse group of concerned guests to respond to the witnessing of Thing 001359 (Chico Mendez Mural Garden) which concerns the demolition of a communal garden in New York.  

X Keywords Cooking School book launch 
25 February 2012 

Xu Tan’s research into Chinese restaurants in Dutch cities culminates in a new Keywords School publication exploring the relationships between food culture and politics. 

X GDR Future (Finissage?)  
20–26 February 2012 

Collective futurist fiction-writing conference and Home School workshops for the future of a grand domestic revolution with guest practitioners from overlapping fields of architecture, community economics, critical theory and geopolitical research and activism. The future is not far, perhaps it is right here and now! Detailed programme and call for participation will be announced soon! 


The Grand Domestic Revolution – User’s Manual is a project developed by Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory.


Director and curator: Binna Choi
Curator: Maiko Tanaka
Curatorial support and project coordination: Yolande van der Heide
Production support: Sofia Evans, Suzanne Tiemersma, Mariska Versantvoort
PR support: Marijke de Wal
Construction: Thomas de Kroon, Michael Klinkenberg
Research and PR support: Katayoun Arian
Communication design: Julia Born & Laurenz Brunner
Administration and general support: Cindy van Rooijen
General management: Vincent Wijlhuizen


GDR is made possible with the generous support of Stichting Doen, Gemeente Utrecht, Mondriaan Stichting

Additional support: European Union Culture Programme, K. F. Hein Fonds

Our partners include: De Rooie Rat; Volksbuurt Museum; W139; Dutch Art Institute MFA ArtEZ; HKU Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht; SKOR | Foundation for Art and Public Domain; RTV Utrecht; Utrecht Manifest: Biennial for Social Design

In cooperation with: Alleato, Critical Mass, Kalff, Kargadoor, The Food Shop, VeelBomen, BAK basis voor actuele kunst, Impakt Festival

Special thanks to our board members, our many volunteers and all our former colleagues and interns including: Yejin Cho, Jaring Dürst Britt, Mafalda Damaso, Nicky Heijda, Sumire Kobayashi, Elsa-Louise Manceaux, Mariska Oosterloo, Constanca Saraiva, Sacha Semeniouk, Urok Shirhan, Annie Wu

Lastly, we would like to thank all our contributors to the GDR project and exhibition!

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