Tirza Kater: Out of Office or the Domestic as Ground: The Domestic as Counter-hegemonic Site for Re-evaluating and Reconstructing Work


Advisor/tutor: Bassam el Baroni
Arnhem, June 2018


Even though the office, or the “traditional” workplace, is very much used as a figure to lead to work, is the office really where we work? Is there such a clear, literal demarcation between the places where we work, and the places where we live? Am I working in that post-Fordist model? Is the workplace fixed, and if it is fixed, then is it not fixed to ourselves as we are self-administrating, self-entrepreneuring beings for whom the workplace is wherever we live?

If the domestic is the site for production, does that then shift the perspective on housework, on reproductive labor, which is inherent to that site? I will be emphasizing the domestic as the transparent site of and for (artistic) production, articulating the domestic site as the site. This has so far been under-formulated as such. My exploration comes in different parts: departing from a take on the workplace becoming unbound; a genealogy of industrialization to post-post-Fordism, traveling through to the self-entrepreneur and what that model means for reproductive labor. Then an exploration into the office as an image takes hold, in which the locations of work shift, and I will deal with the circumstances and conditions of those phenomena. In the third part, the domestic as ground really gets a stage, mostly through an intense connection with the writing of Helen Hester, who deepens Laboria Cubonik's -of which she is part- "Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienation point 0 x 15," which in retrospect could be seen as a drive for this project:

"From the street to the home, domestic space too must not escape our tentacles. So profoundly ingrained, domestic space has been deemed impossible to disembed, where the home as norm has been conflated with home as fact, as an un-remakeable given. Stultifying ‘domestic realism’ has no home on our horizon. Let us set sights on augmented homes of shared laboratories, of communal media and technical facilities. The home is ripe for spatial transformation as an integral component in any process of feminist futurity. But this cannot stop at the garden gates. We see too well that reinventions of family structure and domestic life are currently only possible at the cost of either withdrawing from the economic sphere—the way of the commune—or bearing its burdens manyfold—the way of the single parent. If we want to break the inertia that has kept the moribund figure of the nuclear family unit in place, which has stubbornly worked to isolate women from the public sphere, and men from the lives of their children, while penalizing those who stray from it, we must overhaul the material infrastructure and break the economic cycles that lock it in place. The task before us is twofold, and our vision necessarily stereoscopic: we must engineer an economy that liberates reproductive labour and family life, while building models of familiality free from the deadening grind of wage labour."