MACHINES FOR LIVING
Idealizing, summarizing, omitting, adding, and taking shortcuts are the operations of remembering. When we represent something we are ultimately rewriting, imagining, remembering it (from the outside). Experiencing community, like experiencing a dream, is something we most often recognize after the fact.
Reframing, or giving new context, provides new ways of understanding. The displacement of an act, gesture, or object, from its specific (intimate) context of production, into a less specific (more generalized) context of display and preservation is a movement of the private into the public, just as the art object leaves the studio for the exhibition space, and these written words leave the cloud onto this paper.
Community from communis “common, public, general, shared by all or many” derives its meaning (power), like politics, in place. M/2 was a place in Vevey, Switzerland located on the last floor of an apartment at Rue des Deux Marchés 3. It was also a group of people ; artists, a librarian, an accountant. Bodies in space, building the party.
Since we are dealing in the dark arts of etymology, what about M/2 ? I’ve had the pleasure to meet some of the members of M/2 and one of them shared with me a possible origin for the name of the space. It is from their address at Rue des Deux Marchés (2Marchés → 2M → M/2), and the two markets that might have interested the collective ; vegetables and art. Two things we can do in our backyard, in the most intimate of contexts, two global commodities connected to advanced logistical and financial operations. A local/global dichotomy ? Nature/nurture ? Folksy wisdom of when to plant what, through airports and freeports, across borders and through customs. “The avocadoes are shipped green but will be ripe by the time they hit the shelves… yeah we are making the paintings in Basel it’s cheaper that way…”
What does it mean when objects tend to move more freely through space than bodies ? What happens when the logic of just in time production is applied to community ?
Vegetables, art, individuals = community. Get it ? *lights spliff* …jk
In the contemporary condition, where hyper-connected individuals participate in multiple social networks, always- online communities are continuously accessible, and digitally sharing our lives is part of our daily ritual, community has never seemed more accessible. These platforms may contribute to a certain communal fulfillment, and perhaps even the impression, certainly the appearance of community, but like Alkoholfrei Feldschlösschen hurriedly purchased at the Coop Pronto, it is only in the image of.
Community is only as resilient as the structures on which it relies. And despite the utopian dream of 90s nerds leaving their bodies to participate in global virtual communities, the reality of many of those places is an advanced version of information capitalism, where our relationships and data sets are quantified and sold for profit. Just as CBD weed might ultimately gentrify the primal and psychedelic (messy) aspects of getting high, when community does not take place in space, it risks becoming less primal, less psychedelic, and ultimately gentrified.
If gentrification is the “raffination”, dilution, or appropriation by capital (or other forces), it is important to understand this action not just in the traditional sense of buildings bricks and mortar.
Charles-Edouard Jeanneret once said “a house is a machine for living.” It is a phrase and idea that I can’t quite decide what it means, and I guess that’s a good thing. Something about systemic functionality of machines and their interaction with the soft organic processes of life, all of this taking place in relationship to a space, the house. It makes sense but at the same time makes me feel like i’m hooked up matrix-style to a robot-house and it’s the only thing keeping me alive. Or that my house owns me. Maybe it’s just semantics.
A house is a machine for living. A space is machine for living ? A space is a machine for community ? Community is a space for living ?
Experiencing community, like experiencing a dream, is something we most often recognize after the fact. Remembering community then, might be like remembering a dream ; fragile, fleeting, fucked up, whole parts missing, and often, beautiful.