{ catalyst }


-Mirroring / learning / displacing
-Collective desires
-Social device
-Situated knowledge

A catalyst is an informal and temporary action used to make structures of power visible. It initiates change from below through the disruption of an everyday situation. As an action, or a series of actions, it leads to shifts in perspectives, where new understandings, imaginaries and social structures can be envisioned, and collectively strived for.

Through a sequence of experimental workshops held at the Royal Institute of Art, we tested a methodology to reimagine spaces through collective desires. By learning from an informal site of knowledge production, Cyklopen[1], the aim was to blur the separation between creators and audience in a formal and hierarchical environment.

During the workshops, we identified spaces with potential for an active commons, in-between spaces which could connect people but failed to do so in their current use. One of them was Mellanrummet, a white box gallery space between degree students and the Faculty and Post-Master students at the institute.

Together with the participants of each workshop, a temporary collective was formed to discuss and create a common space. Starting with a simple question—what is missing from the space or what is your experience of it?—we collected individual points of view which formed a base for collective knowledge.

By reimagining individual desires into a collective desire through group discussions and mind-mapping, we aimed to create a fruitful ground for an open and non-hierarchical process of forming a space. Each intervention was left to live its own life by leaving traces of the common space, communicating the change and opening up possibilities for future use. Anybody passing the space was invited to continue the spatial conversation by leaving their own traces.

There was a barrier to acting autonomously within the workshops, which poses a question of how to form a collective process and encourage people to actively work together? If a facilitator is expected to lead a transformation, could there be a way of eliminating this role in the pursuit of levelling hierarchies?


[1] A self-built, self-organized and volunteer-run cultural centre in Högdalen, Stockholm.


Marco Cechet, Mark Romei, Pauli Rikaniemi, Ying Sun