Till allmän nytta / For the common good 2018

 

A small house (3 sq meters) built for a specific site : An empty alcove in the foundation wall of a residential building in the most expensive part of Stockholm.

 

The political climate of Sweden has undergone a radical change over the past 30 years, and one of the major shifts has been in the policies that regulate housing. In short, the overarching sense of responsibility for providing acceptable housing to the citizenry has been removed from state and government and put in the nimble hands of a market-oriented economy. This, in addition to an ever-growing tide of urban influx has created a severe shortage of available housing for just about anyone but the wealthy. Housing is no longer seen as a human right, but as an investment and a commodity to make profit from.

 

The house was constructed off-site and built to fit into the alcove as discreetly as possible. No permits were sought and the formal owners of the site were not contacted. The small house had a bed, a small table and a chair. It was designed as a temporary refuge- a place to stay the night, to spend the day or just hang out. On the same day it was installed, the house was advertised on social media for anyone who wanted to stay there. Booking was free of charge and the interested parties were given the combination to the padlock on the door with no other instructions other than to enjoy the place as they saw fit.

 

From mid- May thru August dozens of people spent the night here. Some came along with friends and hung out. Others made it a pit stop on their way to nearby venues; others still took some time out of a hot day and just rested for a bit. At the outset, I had requests from homeless immigrants and refugees with families. Sadly, I had to dissuade them and explain how this was an experiment rather than a realistic solution for their situation. The place had no running water or electricity and was built off-the-grid in every sense of the word. The public interest to procure a place to stay in Stockholm (as it was advertised on Instagram) did however confirm the need for something other than what the regular market could offer.

 

In mid July, the board of the coop that owned the building at the foot started posting summons from the authorities on the door of the little house. It was made clear that a number of hefty fines would be issued to the person(s) responsible for the installation of the house on their property. Unless removed before certain date it would be demolished and the case would be brought to civil court. After a number of anonymous exchanges with the coop (nocturnal exchanges of letters taped to nearby light posts) I decided to remove the house and place it in a fringe area of the suburbs where it could be a home for the winter for someone.

 

The project was presented in the exhibition “Is All Too Much” at Hangmen Projects in November 2018.

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