Resistance begins at home

The ‘Home Strike’ exhibition at the l’etrangere  stroke a particular cord with me as my work has always been focused on (first) the body, (secondly) the space of the home and the relationships people create with domestic objects.  Fast forward 7 years and my practice is still critically engaging with domestic objects, except now I am not looking at toasters or vacuum cleaners but at the Alexa. The goal remains the same: to develop a critical design practice that is socially oriented and tells alternative stories about technology from a human perspective.


Sketchnote of talk – Instagram

Below, for self-reference I’m transcribing parts of the accompanying texts that I found particularly relevant in engaging with the artists and work exhibited.

(…) in an exhibition exploring contemporary resistance to the persistent feminisation of domesticity and household maintenance.(…) interrogates those biopolitical and cultural normals that see women and their bodies systematically domesticated, exploited and imprisoned by patriarchal ideologies.

‘Home’ is a shifting notion. (…) a space filled with dreams, fantasies, and profound ambivalence: on the one hand the home offers shelter, while on the other it remains an inhibiting environment of unacknowledged labour, where one is socialised into conformity to the roles that they are expected to perform. (…) They approach ‘home’ as a discursive space with a range of gendered social and cultural associations, which they materialise, parse, question and defamiliarise through artistic practice.

The works in Home Strike (…) actively disaffirm contended, nurturing domesticity by unearthing its usually repressed foundations in patriarchy, social reproduction, and the lived experience of frustration and exhaustion.

Domestic Front (2016) Paula Chambers

Paula Chambers’ practice involves weaponising everyday household objects, transforming them into instruments of self-defence, or violent revolt – a stark reminder that the home is often no safe space.

Resistance Kitchen (2017) Malgorzata Markiewicz

The family home is Malgorzata Markiewicz‘s battlefield. The artist targets the often glossed-over power struggles of family life, turning the tables on a mother’s obligation to nurture and cherish, whilst confronting the bourgeois expectation for women to entertain guests that simultaneously renders them as complicit objects of desire. (…)
offer her audience recipes for the deadly dishes – perhaps “the only tool of resistance available to women.” She calls for women to defend themselves and “join the resistance kitchen,” in a radical subversion of care-giving.

Here, domesticity expands into a wider sphere, that of nation-states and national politics. The video starts with a simple statement, ‘Things are going bad, to put it mildly. And not just here in Poland.’ Markiewicz critiques the current right-wing Polish government, which in the past couple of years has repeatedly violated women’s rights: (…) proposed to add restrictions to access to abortion, pre-natal care and contraceptives.

Also in 2016(…) initiated a draft bill that called for the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, a treaty focused on the prevention and combating of violence against women. The convention was branded a source of evil ‘gender ideology’ harmful and dangerous to Polish traditional values. The funding for several women’s rights nongovernmental organisations, including the Women’s Rights Centre and Baba, was withdrawn, for alleged discrimination against men, as they supported only female survivors of domestic violence.

Burnt Breakfast (1975-77) Su Richardson

Su Richardson’s home-made objects stir the unconscious of domesticity and femininity and their mutual implications.

(…) her crocheted Burnt Breakfast (1975-77) typifies such ambivalence, both celebrating and exploiting (un)conscious domesticity from a feminist point of view. It alludes to the intersection of feminist concerns and other political preoccupations, which address the cultural meanings of women’s crafts and labour in the context of domestic politics, resulting in psychosocial repercussions and the maintenance of harmfully unequal cultural and economic divisions.
Feministo unsettled the patriarchal sexual division of labour mapped onto the home and the white cube, and unpicked the political and affective acceptance of and resistance to the status quo, revealing the inherent violence of the domestic sphere. Its functional domesticity aimed to uncover a very real patriarchal cruel domesticity.


Fountain (2000) CANAN
(…) CANAN presents us with the ready-made’s diametric opposite: mother made milk,(…)

Rather than simply the quieter, more intimate alternative to public protest, Home Strike seeks to assert the place of subversive domesticities within feminist aesthetics and politics alike. Resistance begins at home. 

CANAN, Paula Chambers, Malgorzata Markiewicz, Su Richardson
Home Strike

8 March – 21 April 2018



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