In cities like London, New York and even in less privatised Amsterdam, housing is becoming more and more limited and expensive. In this Reading Room, architect Jack Self read ‘domestic time’ to uncover unexpected strategies to renegotiate the home into a place for living instead of an object for speculation. Respondent was design collective Cookies and moderator Tamar Shafrir of Het Nieuwe Instituut.
A unique confluence of factors — limited geographic territory, a sustained neoliberal economic regime, centrality within the global financial market, special status for foreign money and residents, mid-century building policies, and medieval traditions of land ownership — mark the home as a site of urgency and emergency in the UK, and excruciatingly so in London.
“In all statistical probability you will never own a home.”
“Without unpaid domestic labour the family ceases to exist.”
“We are always connected yet forever apart.”
Through these statements, released as captions to a series of photographic vignettes from contemporary living spaces, the curators of Home Economics, this years exhibition in the British pavilion in Venice, address the home as a site that oscillates between the sentimental permanence of family and belonging and the cyclical temporality of current practices of inhabitation.
In this Reading Room, Home Economics curator Jack Self read domestic time as a complex polyrhythm based on different units — hours, days, months, years, and decades. Through these domestic cycles, he addresses the scalar nuances of housework, the sharing economy, speculation and mortgages, political residency, and intergenerational community. He therefore challenged the notion of “forever”, so deeply intertwined with the idea of home, in order to renegotiate the home based on contemporary logics of information, privacy, value, and activity.
Jack Self is an architect and writer based in London. He is Director of the REAL foundation, as well as curator of the 2016 British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale with Shumi Bose and Finn Williams. During the Biennale, REAL launched the first issue of The Real Review, a bi-monthly magazine about architecture and spatial practice. As an editor for Strelka Press (2011-13) he developed the first print-on-demand books on architecture. He also founded Fulcrum, a free weekly "pursuing architecture and the third millennium” based at the Architectural Association in London. He edited Real Estates: Life Without Debt (Bedford Press, 2014) and is a Contributing Editor for the Architectural Review. Recently he spoke about the future of housing at the IABR 2016.
Cookies is a collective of four designers based in Rotterdam. Formed by Antonio Barone, Alice Grégoire, Federico Martelli and Clément Périssé in 2015, Cookies works as a platform and catalyzer for art and architecture. Using exhibition-making as a medium, Cookies explores the relation between art, display, curation and architecture. One of their recent projects is Do I still have to sleep in the cupboard?
The Reading Room is a series of evenings dedicated to the act of collective reading. It is a place to decipher and interpret the world with its countless languages and systems, including phenomena that by their ubiquity evade investigation. Led by an artist, researcher or designer, a small audience will reflect upon a concept, a text, an object or an image. The Reading Room is a space for intimate, provocative conversations. It is a place for creative confusion and sometimes even frustration, in which speakers and audience are not looking for concrete solutions but for higher resolutions. Subjects in previous Reading Rooms include exhibition, surveillance, migration, liquidity, museum, insecurity.