22.06 - 17.09 Barcelona

The Struggle for Housing

15 de juny de 2015

Going on with the historical research about the housing question, we want to present today a seminal publication written by Gruppo Strum in 1972, The Struggle for Housing: A Fotoromanzo.

In 1972, Gruppo Strum (Giorgio Ceretti, Pietro de Rossi, Carlo Giammarco, Riccardo Rosso, Maurizio Vogliazzo) was comisioned by Emilio Ambasz to present a project to participate in the exhibition The New Domestic Landscape at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, MoMA. Gruppo Strum decided that rather than presenting a physical design of a domestic environment, they will to go out into the street by designing a pamphlet —with the style of the traditional Italian fotoromanzo—, drawn in the form of photo-cartoons.

The publication, entitled The Struggling for Housing, included fictional articles on issues of architecture and Italian society from the perspectives of capitalists, workers, students, activists and architects. Their argument to do so, was:

"Many people in Italy do not have a decent home to live in, and some have no home at all. If they are not given one —and for the time being no one is likely to give it to them, they must get homes for themselves by organizing themselves into a political movement capable of overturning the trend of the current system in which their fringe existence and exploitation are functional."

Their main idea was to use the exhibition as a place to spread the message that the inhabitants of the city not only must fight for their rights to get a home —a place to sleep after hours of alienating work—, but places that will become the initial elements of a different kind of collective life.

With a focus on disseminating their ideas about how to reshape cities —by attacking and defeating the capitalist organization of territory together with the symbolic values of its formalization—, they presented a photo-essay that started with an image of  the Board Room at a large company. On that scene, the chairman makes a speech on the need to raise production at any cost. This was the way to reinforce the relationship between homes and factory labor, with particular reference to immigration problems. After some provocative pages developing these arguments, they present how the struggle for a home induced the proletariat to organize self-managed collective services, thereby producing red nursery schools, red health clinics, markets, people's housing estates, among other facilities and services.

It's not so difficult to understand the links of this historical publication with the situation that we are witnessing nowadays, where the struggle for housing has been adopted by self-organized groups [i.e. La PAH], producing our own people's housing estates, such as the cooperative housing projects current being built in Barcelona or Madrid. This is the reason to recover some of this research material and make it available in our channels, so we can all learn from the past, understand the present and react for the future.

Source: archive.org