Home as a Space of Cultural and Knowledge Production (or, the Unreproducible Art of Un-commissioned Inhabitants)

Undomesticated Homes


Silvia Susanna

“It all started some years ago…”, Bruno Cuervo told me on the terrace of Casa Gomorra. Bruno, Ana, Mirushka and Letto rented a big cheap apartment in Obrera to live together, and took advantage of this big space for supporting self-managed projects that work in favour of the LGBTTTI community. “We decided to live together as we had the same interests: gender studies, feminism, transfeminism, pornoterrorism, and queer philosophy. We wanted to open a safe space for our community without prejudice, where there is respect for the identity of others.” (Extract from my travel diary: Interview with Bruno Cuervo from Casa Gomorra, Mexico City)

“Inició como el habitar juntos de algunas personas, y creció para proyectos. La casa siempre se transforma, no están espacios por clases distintas, cocina, privado, todo se va transformando con el proyecto, y quien participa va cambiando el espacio de la casa.” (Extract from / Transcription of the audio-interview I made with Israel from Bikini Wax, Mexico City)

[…] In 2016, I was living in Venice and by word of mouth, I learned of a special event in a “secret location”. I followed the white rabbit and an incredible dimension embraced me. From the campiello a unique flux of people was moving between a mystical indoor space and a softly lit garden. A flow of people was inhabiting a cosmos made of urban Venetian singularities, exhibition rooms and convivial places. The outdoor merged with the indoor in a unique pluriverse without fences, for joyful and vibrant discussions where the urban world, the domestic realm, and a specific cultural production were interwoven: it was life! When I met Tobia Tomasi, founder of Casa Punto Croce, the following year, it was clear how this social, generous, dance-loving creature mirrored the atmosphere of Casa Punto Croce. […]
(Extract from Inside the Domestic Culture of Italy Interview with Jean-Lorin Sterian. Me describing Casa Punto Croce, Venice – https://schloss-post.com/inside-the-domestic-culture-of-italy/)

Home is a space of cultural and knowledge production when any superimposed common sense[1] is interrupted by a plan of immanence that calls into crisis the modern structure and, therefore, triggers what Jane Rendell named critical spatial practice.

My interest in exploring the meanings of home as a space of cultural and knowledge production arose two years ago, after realizing that over the last decade I had come across a series of extemporaneous, independent home-made cultural programs[2]. Elaborating a discourse from these premises meant opening some dispersed intuitions publicly (Demanio Marittimo) and, in parallel, searching for new home-projects by word-of-mouth.

Each practice met so far emerges for specific contextual reasons that reflect the cultural-social identity and background of its un-commissioned initiators. Nevertheless, all the practices I have found stand as a reaction to a lack of spatial representation or belonging to their environment; as an answer to a shortage of experimentation in local institutionalized spaces; or for a fervent desire for community in a safe, temporarily suspended home space.

All the home-projects encountered in my research disrupt the modern agenda of domesticated life, give space to a specific community, and are positioned far from the aggressive global corporate capitalism logic. By subverting standardized modern functions—spatialization of typological human activities—and overcoming normalized dichotomies—private/public, guest/host, tradition/innovation—these practices produce a realm for cultural production, social encounter, and community exchange. They are agents of a right to the city through a process of de-modernization. This specific, unreproducible, subtly ground-breaking way of creating community and producing knowledge is the core of these practices. And yet, the reason it seems to be worth formulating a discourse on this phenomenon is not for their similarities, but for the strong differences between them. In fact, their specific cultural programs link specific relative networks; are independent from any other home-made experiences; and emerged without any centralized control, online mediation or offline platform.


[1] Common sense: The things we say we know with absolute certainty are things we have learned. The cognitive expression of many common-sense beliefs hides their origin in a social training that induces norms, paradigms for describing the situations that surround our life in the clothes of our behaviour. (Italian foreword of “On Certainty” Ludwig Wittgenstein by Aldo Gargani)

[2] The definition of home-made cultural program is by Jean Lorin Sterian, one of my lucky encounters. Jean-Lorin Sterian is a researcher, writer, artist and performer currently based in Bucharest/Romania. In 2008, he opened Iorgean theatre, the first living-room theatre in Romania. He has published several fiction books and one anthropological work related to his experiences of turning his house into a public space for performances. Currently, he is researching signs of what he has stated to be “homemade culture”, meaning theatre, visual and performance art based only in private spaces from all over the world.