THE GRAND
DOMESTIC REVOLUTION

THE GRAND
DOMESTIC REVOLUTION

USER'S MANUAL

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.

DOLORES HAYDEN

Historian Dolores Hayden is the author of six award-winning books about the character and design of American cities and suburbs. Also a widely-published poet who often writes about the landscape, she teaches at Yale University where she recently created a new class on "Poets' Landscapes."

Her most recent non-fiction books include Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000 (Pantheon, 2003) and A Field Guide to Sprawl (with aerial photographs by Jim Wark, W.W. Norton, 2004). These titles have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, CNN and The Diane Rehm Show.

Her earlier works include Seven American Utopias: The Architecture of Communitarian Socialism, 1790-1975 (MIT Press, 1976) and The Grand Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities (MIT Press, 1981). Redesigning the American Dream: Gender, Housing, and Family Life (W.W. Norton, 1984, rev. ed., 2002) explores housing and child care, tracing the United States experience in contrast to England, France, Sweden, and the Soviet Union.

As founder and president of The Power of Place, a non-profit arts and humanities group based in Los Angeles from 1984 to 1991, Hayden laid out a downtown itinerary to celebrate the historic landscape of the center of the city and its ethnic diversity. Under her direction, collaborative projects on an African American midwife's homestead, a Latina garment workers' union headquarters, and Japanese-American flower fields engaged citizens, historians, artists, and designers in examining and commemorating the working lives of ordinary citizens, projects documented in The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History (The MIT Press, 1995).

Hayden's work has been widely translated. She has received an American Library Association Notable Book Award, two awards for Excellence in Design Research from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Graduate Medal for outstanding scholarship, the Davidoff Award for an outstanding book in Urban Planning, the Donald Award for feminist scholarship, and many other prizes. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow, and held Rockefeller, ACLS/​Ford, Radcliffe, and CASBS fellowships as well.

Before Yale, Hayden taught at MIT, UC Berkeley, and UCLA. She is an alumna of Mount Holyoke College, Cambridge University, and Harvard University, where she received her professional degree in architecture.

Her new poetry collection, Nymph, Dun, and Spinner, was published in fall 2010. American Yard appeared in 2004. Recent poems are in The Yale Review, Southwest Review, Slate, The Best American Poetry 2009, and Verse Daily. She has received awards from the Poetry Society of America and the New England Poetry Club. In 2008 she gave the Yale Phi Beta Kappa poem. She is a Connecticut Performing Artist and a New England States Touring artist eligible for public funding for her readings and workshops.

Related:

NOTES

GDR Diary 5: Reading Perec

Following Sepake’s suggestion, on my last day at the apartment I read the beginning of Georges Perec’s Life A User’s Manual (2008, [1978]) to the plants.

It starts with


and then continues:

"To begin with, the art of jigsaw puzzles seems of little substance, easily exhausted, wholly dealt with by a basic introduction to Gestalt: the perceived object — we may be dealing with a perceptual act, the acquisition of a skill, a physiological system, or, as in the present case, a wooden jigsaw puzzle — is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analysed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element’s existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before not after it, for he parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not be possible derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it."

[Here I started thinking about the domestic space as multilayered, open and in continuous flux.]

"That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and shape, and be no further on than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces, and in that sense the art of the jigsaw puzzle has something in common with the art of go. The pieces are readable, take on a sense, only when assembled; in isolation, a puzzle piece means nothing — just an impossible question, an opaque challenge."

[And at this point I started thinking about the GDR itself as an assemblage. The GDR as a project that is itself composed of individual projects, pieces, events and encounters that share transversal concerns that are not necessarily inscribed into a set of harmonious assumptions. For example, Mirjam Thomann's reflection on space through the installation of the Two Part Door is radically different from Martha Rosler's archival project on If You Lived Here... as a reflection on the contemporary relevance and possibilities of the engagement of art with community activism focused in the issues of housing, gentrification and displacement.]

"But as soon as you have succeeded, after minutes of trial and error, or after a prodigious half-second flash of inspiration, in fitting it into one of its neighbours, the piece disappears, ceases to exist as a piece."

[The inexistence of an overarching framework of interpretation of the project is directly related to its definition as an exploratory reflection on spatiality as a condition to individual action and artistic engagement, here analysed through a focus on the domestic space. And in this direction, perhaps what matters the most is not the possible similarities that are to be identified among the individual projects but, on the contrary, the potential that is presented by the GDR to articulate the fundamental relationship between the multilayered depth of space and the agonistic character of the artistic-design interventions that can be developed with it in mind.]

"The intense difficulty preceding this link-up – which the English word puzzle indicates so well – not only loses its raison d’être, it seems never to have had any reason, so obvious does the solution appear. The new pieces so miraculously conjoined are henceforth one, which in its turn will be a source of error, hesitation, dismay, and expectation. (…)"

[Yes, I had managed to grasp something. And then I read a little longer ---this time in silence --- to myself.]


25 May 2010, 23.37 — posted by Mafalda

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