The Practice of Living
Video | 8 min | 2011
The burst of the United States housing bubble in 2008 cast thousands of Americans out of their homes and fractured the supposed stability of the global financial system. With little to no connection to activist squatting culture, hundreds of U.S. citizens took it upon themselves to take shelter in the sudden surplus of vacated houses, now referred to as “zombie houses”. Taken in part from the title of Michel de Certeau’s seminal work, The Practice of Living, follows a young man has he follows the step – by – step process of illegally squatting a property through the use of an instructional audio CD, which details the confrontation between the principles of squatting culture and the ideas of land ownership. The character presented here follows the logistical steps required to squat an abandoned property but his motivations lack either the desperation of homelessness or the militance of activism. In the absence of any apparent crisis this squatter brings a carefree ambivalence to the reality of his situation. As he follows the step-by-step instructions to squatting, what remains are the mundane actions required in order to inhabit a space outside the imagination of land ownership and private property.
These step-by-step directions for squatting an abandoned property have been appropriated from activist literature from the UK, available on the website wikihow, under “How to Squat an Abandoned Property” www.wikihow.com/Squat-in-Abandoned-Property
performed by Joe Haege
cinematography by Matthew Barbee