‘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.



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.



'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.




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.

HOW DO WE WORK TOGETHER? (it’s not a rhetorical question)

Saturday 26 March 2011 12.00-16.00h
GDR apartment, Bemuurde Weerd o.z.18b. With Matthijs de Bruijne, Phil Collins, Josien Pieterse, FNV Domestic Work campaigners and more

Still from Phil Collins, 'marxism today (prologue)' 2010

This month's TOWN MEETING starts with this concrete question, as a continuation of the last meeting on ways to critically engage with domestic and invisible labour. We ended it with a proposal to construct some kind of “artist working group” within a labour movement, but this immediately posed questions about artistic autonomy, the singularity of language and its attendant conflicts and more concretely, what aspect of the campaign will we work on? These questions will work in parallel with the urgent discussion on the rights for migrant domestic workers, looking into its implications within wider working and living conditions.

Presentations for the MARCH TOWN MEETING include artist Matthijs de Bruijne, graphic design studio Take A Detour, and film screening by visiting artist Phil Collins and filmmaker Josien Pieterse. Our guests, along with members of the FNV domestic worker's campaign and other interested actors, will expand on the ways artistic strategies of representation and can work in affinity with specific social movements.


  • Introductions, recap of February Town Meeting, and goal-setting
  • Presentation by Matthijs de Bruijne and Take a Detour on their collaboration for the project het afvalmuseum (trash museum) for the FNV Schoonmaker's anniversary of their strike at Utrecht Central Station
  • Screening of excerpt of 'marxism today (prologue)' by Phil Collins
  • Screening of by excerpt of 'The Years of the Truth' (De Jaren van de Waarheid) by Josien Pieterse
  • Question 1: What are potential artistic autonomies found in working “with” movements?
  • Question 2: What does the focus on domestic labour rights exclude and include in the debate and how does artist rights differ and connect, more specifically to labour rights?
  • Question 3: What artistic forms of representation of social movements are practiced, and can be imagined by artists and designers—can this point to new forms of contributions to political campaign?
  • Question 4: How will we work together?

The event is free and anyone is welcome to join!
RSVP is appreciated (email us at, but not required.

Review of 'marxism today (prologue)' in the guardian
Brochure download of FNV Bondegenoten Domestic Worker Rights


30 APRIL 2011
Queen's Day! Participants of the meeting will join the street with ‘18B radio talk show’.

To receive more information about this and future TOWN MEETINGs, please email us at


GDR Diary 2: Read-In for the possibility of community

Last Friday I participated in the Read-In and the group addressed several important issues from this experience in the feedback session after “reading-in”: the almost instant legitimization of the reading group when referred to as an artistic project, having as its consequence the access to an otherwise unvisitable private space; the legitimacy and ethical implications of bringing a preselected text into our host’s house versus following the host’s own suggestion, albeit with the risk of unexpectedly transforming a speculative action into the provision of a social service; the process of reading a text (its collective translation, interpretation and discussion) as a mediator of the interaction between hosts and visitors, and a subtle articulator of class, gender and ethnicity positions; photographic documentation that has archival intentions versus its possible interpretation as one of observation or surveillance and so on.

The search for community in Yang’s work is connected to a sense of place that is constructed by an individual experience struggling with abstract parameters. In this sense it is imaginary, but not utopian, and is best described through the notion of a “community of absence” or “negative community,” which is characterized by a lack or a denial of any sense of belonging. Einarsson and Yang use concepts of a dystopian, imaginary community in their work, which open up a space of potentiality. (…) The diversity and creativity of participation in experimental communities, the playful “care of the self” of informal communities, and the being-together of imaginary communities that build on the state of absence, correspond to a fragmented and agonistic public space. The concept of a “community” that refuses to function as a manipulative mass united by a common identity eventually implies the potential of resistance. (Nina Möntmann, “Transforming Communities”, 2007, pp. 50-1).

In “A Small Dictionary for Haegue Yang”, Doryun Chong (2008) also points to of the idea of community in Yang’s work. A community is an entity — a concept — that can be empowering and potent, idealistic and utopian, dysfunctional and even destructive. Despite the generally positive social implications it holds, the idea of community is at once complex and oversimplistic, strong and fragile. (…) Yang interprets what she calls the “community of absence” as a “community of the plural that shares nothing but ongoing self-examination and a strange kind of optimism”. Her interpretation is partly inspired by discussions between Maurice Blanchot and Jean-Luc Nancy around Georges Bataille, specifically in Nancy’s La communauté desoeuvré and Blanchot’s La communauté inavouable. Nancy’s reading of Bataille is critically indebted to Blanchot’s notion of désoeuvrement (…). Through this notion, both thinkers try to grasp Bataille’s concept of a community that does not rely on “work”, which is central to the idea of communism and necessarily defines human beings as producers. (…) It is in this light that Blanchot and Nancy try to steer “community” away from “work” and toward “inoperative” “nonwork” that must remain “unavowable” – that is, the community that refuses to acknowledge itself. Both see that when the community is recognized as such, it ceases to be. (pp. 143-4)

24 May 2010, 23.29 — posted by Mafalda