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Invitation to Defense of Michael Klein

Event Label
Organisational Units
Art Theory and Cultural Studies
Location Description
Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Wien, Raum 209

The Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna kindly invites you to the defense of Michael Klein's dissertation project The Redistribution of Housing. Space, Subject and Police in the Early Days of Social Housing in Vienna: Reading Red Vienna with Rancière and Foucault.

The Examination Panel is made up of: Mag. Dr. Moira Hille (chair), Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil. Ruth Sonderegger (first supervisor), and Prof. Renée Tribble (external appraiser, TU Dortmund).


Red Vienna is considered the epitome of a political architecture: the interventions in a largely unregulated housing market, the reorganization of housing, and an extensive housing program devised from 1919 to 1934 by the Social Democratic administration in Vienna signify an attempt to redistribute housing that has to this day remained a recurring point of reference when housing is at issue. In Red Vienna, architecture, planning, and housing construction became not only the means of countering the housing shortage, but also the instruments of a socialist Aufbauprojekt centered on collectivization and the formation of the Neue Mensch. Against this background, the question arises to what extent social democratic housing constitutes politics in an emancipatory sense, or whether it should instead be understood as part of a governmental rationality and thus calls for a shift in historical perspective.
To this end, this book taps Jacques Rancière’s political aesthetics to conduct a historical examination of housing and – based on his distribution of the sensible – to analyze both theory and practice of the social democratic administration on the basis of three inquiries: into communal housing’s subject matter; into communal housing’s spaces and their distribution; and into housing’s procedural and historical openness toward participative practice. At the same time, the thesis aims to discuss Rancière’s theory in terms of how it is “applicable” and suitable for reading history not only in terms of the momentary event that politics represents, but also along processes of order, planning, and institutions that Rancière refers to collectively as the police. To accomplish this, I suggest drawing on Foucault’s dispositifs – another aesthetic concept – but retaining Rancière’s focus.
From this perspective, the social democratic repartition of housing appears to be primarily a policed reorganization and improvement of living conditions. Marks inscribed by the political are found in it primarily at the margins of housing – for example in the discourses on the reorganization of the household, as well as on the centralization and socialization of housework – which are only tangentially and tentatively implemented during the Red Vienna era.

Short biography

Michael Klein works at the interfaces between architecture, art, urbanism and theory, currently at the Research Department for Housing and Design at the TU Wien. Studies in architecture at the TU Wien, the ESA Paris and at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (diploma 2007). He is part of dérive - Zeitschrift für Stadtforschung and a board member of ÖGFA (Österreichische Gesellschaft für Architektur). His work focuses on housing, domesticity and everyday life, and on the relationship between architecture, political theory, the city and historiography. He is co-author and co-editor of The Design of Scarcity (Strelka Press, 2014 and Adocs 2017), Modelling Vienna, Real Fictions in Social Housing (Turia + Kant, 2015) and Building Critique, Architecture and its Discontents, Spector Books 2020); together with Sasha Pirker he realized the film 60 Elephants on the thinking of Yona Friedman.

Please join us for the defense presentation in room 209.

We are looking forward to welcoming you.