Olga Egorva and Dmitri Vilenski of the collective Chto Delat on Houses of Culture: cultural models based on principles of comradeship.
New non-alienated models of cultural production were always a utopian aim of cultural workers. In our workshop, we address the tradition of Houses of Culture, and their potentials today. The model appeared in Italy mid 19th C., when workers learned to read in order to partake in elections. This idea was energetically developed in Soviet houses of culture, and after the collapse of the USSR, it reemerged in new incarnations. We find traces in the creative industries, Loft Projects, co-working spaces, leisure centers, shopping malls with cinemas and play areas, art institutions with educational programs, libraries, access for marginalized members of the public, etc. These tendencies take place in the absence of a program such as the mass socialist movements, or state education in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Thus the political purpose of new houses of culture is to reformulate a class structure, in which we see the potential for the formation of singularities, ready at a given historical moment to defend the values of comradeship, and to rethink the role of culture and aesthetics in processes of emancipation.