Like many parts of our lives in the 21st century, one’s own living space is commonly regarded as a reflection of our needs as well as an expression of the self. It allows to draw conclusions about the people inhabiting the space.
At the same time, maybe more significantly, that living space actively forms critical parts of its inhabitants’ lives. The ways in which you engage with your apartment are decided by the question of how many square meters it offers. Big enough, it can allow you to entertain and work from home. It might also not be enough to fulfil even basic necessities of living. It shapes each habitant’s relationship to each other. Many people are not at home at only one place. Some have to rent their living space to strangers. While some have no place at all, others, if economical resources or inherited luck allow, can take breaks from their homes by taking vacations, simulating living elsewhere for a week and turning this temporary home into a stage revealing so far buried or brushed over interpersonal dynamics. Property is accumulated by some or kept to a minimum by others. Living does not mean simply filling an empty space but engaging with it as an object.
Looking at the history of housing, living conditions have for a long time paralleled social as well as economical developments. Room arrangements and floor plans reflect and are witnesses to societal values like work, play and leisure. The comfort of your own living space has long lost its status as a counterpart to the work space. One and the other are more and more indistinguishable from each other like Deleuze’s self-deforming casts, never not mutating.
It is easy to feel stuck in these conditions without any kind of power to intervene. This is why we think it is important not to stop at thinking of contemporary living conditions as mere consequences of socioeconomic realities but also recognise the potential of these spaces to shape and negotiate such terms including artistic as well as design oriented strategies. By treating this apartment in the center of Offenbach am Main as an „engaged object“1 we hope to highlight different facets, problems and chances of living in an inner-city context.
Text: Linus Berg
1 Fezer, J., Hirsch, N., Kühn, W., & Peleg, H. (Hrsg.). (2017). Wohnungsfrage (1. Aufl.). Matthes & Seitz Berlin.
Photography: Jule Wertheimer