The Memories Of Cyklopen
Cyklopen is a self-built, self-organised and volunteer-run cultural centre in Högdalen, Stockholm. As an experimental model of self-organisation, the site has the vision to serve local collective needs. Conceptualised as an experiment on the creation of commons, Cyklopen sits outside of both the public and private realms, not owned by the state nor by private individuals. Instead, it’s operated collectively and independently, by those actively engaged in the use of the house and its management.
In 2003, Kulturkampanjen (the original organisation behind Cyklopen) started by squatting in an old television house in Östermalm, Stockholm. With unsuccessful attempts to gain a venue of their own, both in Hammarbyhöjden Subway station and an abandoned conservation area, Albano Smide, they finally got a five-year lease in Högdalen to build their own space.
The design and construction process was open for everyone to participate in, and the building was finished in 2007 after two years of construction. The main feature was a single, large, round, window, which gave the house its name: Cyklopen. But after just one year, the building was burned down by neo-Nazis. After another campaign and self-building process, the current venue, again named Cyklopen, was opened in 2013 in Högdalen.
“Why build a culture house in a suburb?”
The discussions about Cyklopen have constantly pointed towards its locality since the house’s reopening to the public. The neighbourhood of Högdalen is a marginalised area in terms of its diverse inhabitants and the gentrification process in Stockholm. With the desire of being something else, radically rooted in the local context, Cyklopen provides a community space that emphasises solidarity and embraces people with different marginalised identities. Cyklopen is constructing both a site of resistance within local struggles, and an experimental model for the larger socio-political context.
“Don’t ask what Cyklopen can do for you, ask what you do for you at Cyklopen.”
Through the engagement of active members and the participation of event initiators within house meetings, the culture house operates like a container, open to be used by any groups within the community, reflecting its guiding principles and values. In this way, Cyklopen experiments with creating an operating model to challenge attitudes formed by consumer culture, imposed hierarchies, and the idealisation of efficiency in the modern world. Through this, it aims to create a space outside of the neo-liberal, patriarchal and modernist controls of the city; a space where new social relations can be created and brought into reality.
What can we learn from Cyklopen in terms of knowledge production? How do we inscribe from informality?
As new members rotate through the organisation, and the temporality of events and struggles produce a state of continual present, how can memory exist and be retained in such a structure?
Cyklopen has a volunteer run library, which has the potential to record and reflect on the collective memories of the house. Can the space of the library become a site for the storage and production of knowledge? Not only in the form of the books within the space, but also recording the informal knowledge produced within and around the house, can the library become a space to anchor the common struggles of the larger community?
Often, when something new is erected in a neighbourhood, we think: “I can remember that there was something here before, but now I can’t remember what.”
Within contexts of urban struggle, how can pluriversal narratives be created and maintained through the collective memory of a place?
Collect* is a manifesto for a social anthology.
Collect* is a form of production.
Collect* is a democratic practice.
Collect* is an anchor within local struggles.
Collect* is a container of multiple memories.
Collect* is the root of a series of words that may have different applications, but use this verb as their engine.
We propose to Collect*
To Collect* is to create a social anthology; one which records memories of marginality and the struggles of communities. A social anthology can become a collective device, a reference to re-invent everyday-life towards commonality, remapping the sites and alliances of resistance.
We propose to collect*, to engage with knowledges that have an intrinsic temporariness and are experienced through direct participation; the knowledges of the event, of the marginal, and of the experiential. We want to create a system to embrace these qualities, collecting a specific way of knowing, and to engage with collecting ephemerality in the present, beyond traditional mediums.
In doing so, we aim to democratise the process of constructing narratives and memories, challenging traditional processes of archiving and curating to allow multiple voices to come to the surface.
A collectivised collection.
A collectable collectivism.
A collected collectivity.
A collectivisation of Collect*
* The addition of an asterisk is a typographic solution that highlights the capacity of this root word to have potential suffixes loaded onto it to multiply its meanings.