Alternatives for Living
Christopher Kulendran Thomas in collaboration with Annika Kuhlmann
“Your Home, Everywhere. The Future of Global Living.” Initiated by the artist Christopher Kulendran Thomas in collaboration with curator Annika Kuhlmann, the ongoing work New Eelam takes as a starting point the art field’s involvement in the global processes through which cities around the world are transformed, and explores how to reconfigure what art can actually do in the world structurally. New Eelam is a long-term artwork in the form of a startup—a real estate technology company founded by the artist to develop a flexible housing – a distributed evolution of a housing co-operative. Over the last two years, Thomas and Kuhlmann have brought together an interdisciplinary team of specialists across the fields of technology, art, real estate, finance and architecture to develop a new form of flexible and affordable housing beyond borders.
New Eelam resembles a realization of Sir Thomas More’s philosophical novel Utopia (1516) through the prism of a digitally globalized era. Life together on More’s idealized island state—the invention of which represents the birth of the genre of the social utopia—is based on the abolishment of private property, among other factors. At a time when the demand for flexibility is increasing just as the cost of living is becoming ever more expensive, New Eelam represents a new model for housing that enables people to be at home anywhere and everywhere in the world.
This housing concept not only proposes an alternative model for living, but also draws from decidedly political questions. The sci-fi documentary 60 million Americans can’t be wrong offers an introduction to New Eelam’s flexible subscription service, via Sri Lanka’s pre-civil war history. The film responds to the artist’s Tamil family origins, ultimately speculating on new possibilities for citizenship beyond national borders. What kind of new social organizations could be established beyond geographic borders and nation states?
“The thought experiment behind New Eelam is to ask what a self-governed state could be if it was a distributed network rather than a territorially bounded nation.” (Christopher Kulendran Thomas) The exhibition at Haus Lange presents the New Eelam concept through a series of sparse, futuristic works that speak to the aesthetics of the brand. A biosphere from the ongoing work When Platitudes Become Form contains an original artwork purchased from post-war Sri Lanka’s most significant contemporary art gallery, and four new videos distributed around the gallery look at the potential for new co-operative economic models to develop beyond national boundaries.
Christopher Kulendran Thomas (born 1979) is a London and Berlin-based artist who manipulates some of the structural processes by which art produces reality. His work has been included, among others, in the 11th Gwangju Biennale; the 9th Berlin Biennale; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Tensta konsthall, Stockholm; Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; New Galerie, Paris; Tate Liverpool. Forthcoming solo exhibitions include Institute for Modern Art, Brisbane and Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin as well as a new commission with the V-A-C Foundation for the 58th Venice Biennale. Thomas is the founder and CEO of New Eelam (new-eelam.com).
Annika Kuhlmann (born 1985, lives and works in Berlin and London) is a curator who works predominantly through long term collaborations. As Creative Director at New Eelam, she has developed presentations for the 9th Berlin Biennale, the 11th Gwangju Biennale, Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Tensta konsthall in Stockholm and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Kuhlmann is associate curator at Schinkel Pavillion, Berlin.