‘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.

The AVANT GARDEN and artistic (de)fense

Saturday 28 May 2011, 13.00-17.00h
GDR apartment, Bemuurde Weerd o.z.18b.

With the model of 'Thing 001359 (Chico Mendez Mural Garden)' by Agency, ‘Meal Machine’ harvest with Doris Denekamp (Rotterdam & DAI/Artez, Arnhem), and the Wilde Westen collective and local gardening communities on ever-expanding urban gardening movements.

The curse on Chico Mendez Mural Garden, photo by Bill, Not Bored! (blog)

For this month’s TOWN MEETING, we will mingle and negotiate with domestic neighbourhood practices of communal gardening, collective cooking and community art-making and ask what ways does the everyday ‘commons’ appropriate private and public spheres? Further, are the objects, relationships and spaces created from the crossings, themselves, artistic forms? How does art created in the commons, operate and generate from there?


Question 1: What kind of social and political meanings do neighbourhood gardens produce? Where do new borders emerge?
Question 2: How to redirect, redesign and redefine private or public space as a domestic commons?

  • A discussion in preparation of Agency's presentation of ‘Thing 001359 (Chico Mendez Mural Garden)' the fourth thing in Agency's GDR series, concerns a conflict between six artists and BFC Partners around the demolition of a communal garden in New York. With the model of ‘Thing 001359 (Chico Mendez Mural Garden)’ we would like to anticipate Agency's proposal to reinvoke it as a long-term self-organised garden for an unused space in Utrecht.

Question 3: What plots are available in the city and how to appropriate them?

  • ''MEAL MACHINE’ harvest meal: Since TOWN MEETING JANUARY, a "hi-tech" greenhouse situated between the bedroom and balcony of the GDR apartment, has been growing different crops but faced several setbacks. This made one of its creators, Doris Denekamp, realise that although automated the Meal Machine can only be productive if the crops get harvested regularly. Doris invites us all to discuss the issues during the harvesting, preparing and the consuming of the machine’s first meal.

Question 4: How can we deal with the domestic labour from gardening to harvesting within the very immediate condition of the GDR apartment?
Question 5: Can the 'Meal Machine' develop a public character so other local residents can harvest crops?

The harvest will yield a concept menu of green soup of radish leaves, stew with endive, peppers and sundried tomatoes, mint tea with honey. You are invited to bring other homegrown crops or products that can be used for our communal meal and/or seeds for the next cycle of the 'Meal Machine'.

The event is free and everyone is welcome to join!

Guerilla Gardening in the Netherlands
Eco-Urban Network / Ecobox by aaa, northern Paris


'How can clothing be included within artistic practices?'
For the third event in a series called 'Assembly (The Grand Domestic Revolution—User’s Manual)' at Casco, Agency will invite a diverse group of concerned guests to “respond” on the witnessing of 'Thing 001062 (Children Costumes)'.


‘COHAB’ event (screening & discussion) ‘SEEMINGLY DISCORDANT ASSEMBLIES PAST' Saturday 21 May 2011, 14.00. This will be followed by the opening of ‘COHAB: an assembly of spare parts’, a project by Can Altay at 17.00.


  • 'Call the Witness', a group exhibition curated by Suzana Milevska at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst

Opening 21 May 2011, 17.00 more info here

  • 'Communal Living Day', open house day for Co-housing establishments in the Netherlands

21 May, 13.00-16.00 more info and locations here

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



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