Authors: Pier Vittorio Aureli, Robert Burghardt, Florian Schmidt, Jessica Sehrt, Martin Stiehl, Martino Tattara, Jeronimo Voss
Available at bookstores, the shop at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and online at Spector Books.
How can the housing question (Wohnungsfrage) be appropriately reformulated in an age in which the work / life distinction is becoming increasingly blurred? The Realism Working Group and the architecture firm Dogma – in consultation with Florian Schmidt, Studio Commissioner of the Kulturwerk bbk berlin – are developing new living and working spaces for artists that challenge traditional designs and their underlying economic frameworks.
Artistic practice is exemplary for a biopolitical configuration in which life and work cannot be clearly separated. Communal Villa: Production and Reproduction in Artists’ Housing questions the very idea of the house as a private sphere, separated from the world of production. While in the last century the industrial loft has been imagined as the ideal space for artists, Brussels-based architects Dogma and the artists’ collective Realism Working Group have proposed a housing prototype that sets focus on the villa, usually seen as one of the most emblematic representations of the private domain. Emphasizing the increasing domesticity of cultural production (whether the result of post-studio practice or an effect of precarious economies), Communal Villa argues that it is no longer possible to reduce work to the studio space.
Priding itself on its artistic environment Berlin serves as a specific laboratory, as did New York’s Chelsea, or London’s Shoreditch. Since the 1990s, in the aftermath of the fall of the Wall, thousands of artists and cultural workers moved to the German capital—not least because of the abundance of space—and turned it into a global cultural hotspot. In terms of spatial production, these pioneers occupy an increasingly contradictory role: as critical commentators and, often unwillingly, the avant-garde of the real estate, they are both victims and perpetrators of the booming housing market.
With Communal Villa, Dogma (Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara) and Realism Working Group (Jessica Sehrt, Martin Stiehl, Jeronimo Voss) propose a realist model in which artists take the housing question into their own hands, articulating radical relations between solitude and communality, developing socio-economic structures removed from the logics of the real estate market. The conversation with Florian Schmidt, studio commissioner at the Kulturwerk des bbk berlin, sheds light on data and statistics of artists’ studio space, whereas architect Robert Burghardt, who has been working with various initiatives within the Mietshäuser Syndikat, provides insight into the mechanisms of alternative juridical and financial models for housing.