Christopher Kulendran Thomas, an artist based in London and Berlin, is imagining living spaces in an entirely different way with his ongoing work New Eelam.
The following is sourced from Dis Magazine.
“New Eelam – developed in collaboration with curator Annika Kuhlmann and initially introduced at the 9th Berlin Biennial and 11th Gwangju Biennale, with a new iteration coming soon to Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin – exceeds the traditional limits of the artwork. Not only formally – the work is envisaged as an open-endedly durational project in the form of a startup – but particularly in its socioeconomic spatiality and critical technique. Rooted in the complicated story of the geographical displacement and genocide of the Tamil people, New Eelam can best be described as a real estate tech company that envisions and proposes new liquid models of citizenship and distributed homeownership in an age of technologically accelerated dislocation.”
“Envisioned as a flat-rate subscription service, New Eelam’s subscribers will gain access to a portfolio of homes “in some of the world’s most charismatic neighbourhoods,” as its promotional video promises, saturated with the quintessential iconography of urban wanderlust, recognizable from start-up advertising. Adopting the closed loop growth model of e-retailer Amazon, 100% of the revenue of New Eelam’s subscribers, along with capital gains from the speculative real estate investments the company makes, are reinvested into an ever-expanding portfolio of properties, effectively lowering the rent while improving the service for users. What will form, imaginatively, is a global network of homes owned by no one and everyone – or as the video promises, “luxury global communalism rather than private property”. As a corporate entity, New Eelam owes its architecture equally to the historical notion of the socialist coop and the contemporary sharing economy start-up, two seemingly opposing structures that nonetheless converge via technology in our contemporary socio-economic reality. With New Eelam, Thomas sees a potentially emancipatory trajectory for technology in the global economy: specifically, the liquidation of citizenship through the dissolution of individual property ownership in a time when capitalism accelerates its way out of its own sustainability.”