10 essays
Compiled by Carlos Kong

The pandemic has radically unsettled our relationship to what we call “home.” Amid mandated lockdowns (“stay at home!”), quarantining reframes the function of familiar space and our experience of it. Homes are fully transformed into uncanny sites of precarious labor, neoliberal production and consumption, and biopolitical control—alongside the domestic’s usual bliss, monotony, and terror. In the era of “working from home,” screens become the new networked hearth; walls no longer demarcate the eroded bounds of the private and public realm.

Yet the pandemic has made painfully clear that, under current governance, “home” is far from a given right. From mass homelessness to rent strikes, racist urban planning to the fortressing of national borders, life in and after quarantining warrants us to level and rebuild anew the structures that privilege shelter, residence, and belonging for some while denying it for others. The texts in this reader elaborate artistic, architectural, and poetic propositions for reimagining: home, for whom?

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Etel Adnan
Originally published in January 2011

Alas, I have to use this neologism of “enclosement” to deal with an issue that disturbs too few people. But it immensely disturbs those of us it concerns. Basically, this is the question: Where are the public intellectuals—the artists, poets, scientists—who allow themselves to lose sleep over the state of the world? Where are the protesters, the professors, the students? Where is public at large? My answer would be that they are nowhere to be found.

Asiya Wadud
the order was in the hour of worship
Originally published in December 2019

all prayers supplanted
every pew held our bodies
when we got to the waters
all the oak pews faced the Atlantic
to carry us outbound — silt coffers
to sit with the words held in the pews
the sun burned a hole right through me
I let it

Antke Engel
The Elegantly Strong Triad: Defamiliarizing the Family in Works by LaToya Ruby Frazier and Henrik Olesen
Originally published in February 2014

I have felt the age-old triangle of mother father and child, with the “I” at its eternal core, elongate and flatten out into the elegantly strong triad of grandmother mother daughter, with the “I” moving back and forth flowing in either or both directions as needed.

Ana Ofak
Gentleman Next Door: Antonio G. Lauer, a.k.a. Tomislav Gotovac, and the Man Undressed in Times of Socialism
Originally published in April 2014

Tenderness, unburdened sentiments, and freedom are rarely found in the cinematographic spectrum of the 1950s. Arne Mattsson’s 1951 film One Summer of Happiness already assures us with its title that we are going to see something perishable. Just as the water of the lake where the two protagonists swim glitters only on the surface, and only when the sun is going down, the moments they share in this fluid and forgiving medium are already doomed. The film’s rather predictable boy-meets-girl story nevertheless presents one trope that was scandalous for the time: nudity. And we are not just talking about contours of naked female and male bodies at play, but a clear view of erect nipples. This came as close to sex on screen as 1950s audiences were likely to see. After receiving a Golden Bear at the second Berlin International Film Festival in 1952, the movie only made it to New York City in 1957. However, it was shown in Zagreb in 1952 at Kino Prosvjeta (Cinema Education), a movie theater on the ground floor of a former military hospital on Krajiška Street. Every fifteen-year-old seeing it must have gleaned enough material for an outburst of romantic or raunchy fantasies—except for one. Antonio G. Lauer, a.k.a. Tomislav Gotovac, decided many years after One Summer of Happiness that “what was implanted in [his] artistic brain [back then] was that nudity was one of the most important things through which you can tell the world your attitude toward it.”

Marion von Osten
Architecture Without Architects—Another Anarchist Approach
Originally published in May 2009

The title of this text is a hybrid of two existing titles. “Architecture without Architects” was the name of an influential exhibition by the architect Bernard Rudofsky at the MoMA in 1964; “Housing: An Anarchist Approach” was the name of a famous book by the English architect and anarchist Colin Ward in which the author proclaims the rights and productivity of self-built housing and squatting in postwar Europe. Whereas the latter’s collection of essays discussed specific cases of European and Latin American squatter movements from the 1940s to the 1970s, Rudofsky’s exhibition presented photographs of local vernacular architecture from all over the world, with the claim that architects should learn from premodern architectural forms. Both of these perspectives identify a condition that emerged during decolonization, in which a massive crack appeared in the modernist movement and its vision of top-down planning. But they were also two very different interpretations of the simple fact that, throughout the ages and around the world, architecture has been produced without the intervention of planners or architects. Whereas Rudofsky’s approach suggested an aesthetical and methodological shift, Colin Ward’s was a political reading of spatial self-expressions that might offer new methodologies and an alternative understanding of society. In my article, after more than thirty years of debates about High Modernism, I will try to bring into play a third way of thinking that attempts to connect the question of design with that of the political, from the perspective of a globalized world. These ideas have been informed by many conversations, much research, and invitations to Egypt, Morocco, and Israel. I would like to thank everyone who was involved in these discussions: Nezar AlSayyad, Kader Attia, Tom Avermaete, Dana Diminescu, Noam Dvir, Zvi Efrat, Sherif El-Azma, Monique Eleb, Jesko Fezer, Tom Holert, Shahira Issa, Serhat Karakayali, Abderrahim Kassou, Brian Kuan Wood, Andreas Müller, Omar Nagati, Françoise Navez Bouchanine, Horia Serhane, Katja Reichard, Peter Spillmann, and Daniel Weiss.

Wendelien van Oldenborgh
Asset as Set: Filmmaking in Relation to a Certain Realness of Site
Originally published in April 2018

In the spring of 2016, We Are Here, a group of people who had been refused official stay in the Netherlands but could neither return to their countries of departure nor go anywhere else, squatted Tripolis 200, one of the three buildings of the complex, for roughly three weeks. Ironically, until two years earlier, this part of the complex had been occupied as the municipal office of South Amsterdam through which (accepted) citizens passed to register, get married, and pick up official documents.

Andrew Herscher
Humanitarianism’s Housing Question: From Slum Reform to Digital Shelter
Originally published in October 2015

Some refugees from the current civil war in Syria have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey and found themselves in novel spaces—novel not only with respect to the spaces they fled from, but also with respect to the spaces occupied by previous generations of refugees. These new spaces of refuge are structured by technologies of credit distribution in the form of automated teller machines and credit card readers: the means by which the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Program (WFP) have been providing assistance to Syrian refugees with which to purchase food and rent shelter. This “voucher humanitarianism,” undertaken in partnership with credit card companies, mobile phone companies, banks, and other businesses, has already yielded what MasterCard and the WFP call “digital food,” as well as a form of housing relief that, replacing the refugee camp, will doubtlessly soon invoke the term “digital shelter.”

Justin McGuirk
Honeywell, I’m Home! The Internet of Things and the New Domestic Landscape
Originally published in April 2015

In 1972, as part of MoMA’s exhibition “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape,” the Radical Design group Superstudio installed a small cubic room with mirrored walls that appeared to replicate itself into infinity. The group’s proposal, submitted to the curator Emilio Ambasz, had taken the form of a one-page statement describing exactly how this “microenvironment” should be installed, followed by a further nine typed pages of theoretical exposition by Superstudio’s cofounder Adolfo Natalini. In those nine pages—a manifesto of sorts, veering off into prose poems and short stories—Natalini outlines a new way of living. The attributes of this hypothetical existence include “permanent nomadism,” “life without objects,” and “life without work.” These conditions are made possible by a mysterious gridded structure that Natalini refers to only as “the network.”

Bilal Khbeiz
Escaping From Exile by Belonging to an Exiled Land
Originally published in April 2012

A complicated chain of events landed me in Los Angeles, on the west coast of the USA. It is a wonderful city, fascinated by itself to the point of being oblivious to what occurs outside of it. This is not the ideal place to be exiled to.

Manuela Bojadžijev and Serhat Karakayalı
Recuperating the Sideshows of Capitalism: The Autonomy of Migration Today
Originally published in June 2010

This text is a reflection on our 2007 contribution to the TRANSIT MIGRATION research project, “The Autonomy of Migration: Ten Theses Towards a Methodology.” Within the project, we analyzed the movements of migration and the migration policies deployed against them at the edges of the EU, in order to decipher the contours of a new regime of emerging migration politics. We were interested in investigating, from the perspective of social theory, what was symptomatic in movements of migration. We were interested in tracing the crossing of borders, the traversing of territories, the enmeshing of cultures, the unsettling of institutions (first among them nation-states, but also citizenship), the connecting of languages, and the flight from exploitation and oppression—interested, in other words, in investigating what migration teaches us about the conditions of contemporary forms of sociality, and that which goes beyond them. With this article, we pick up the thread and offer some further thoughts.

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