The Arthouse: A Tale of Communal Life in the City

Nicholas Condorcet March 10, 2013 0

By Nicholas Condorcet
Arizona Community Press | www.azcommunitypress.org

One of the off-shoots of the social movements of the 1960’s and 70’s was the commune. With communes people moved far away from cities to share in building a “better world” with like-minded people; pooling their efforts into collective farms and projects. Art houses, info-shops and other efforts have grown from many of the same motivations but spring up in city centers, becoming an island for change through creativity, information-spreading and independence.

In Downtown Phoenix, Thought-Crime, more recently known as the Firehouse Gallery, has become a venue known to many as a stop for First Friday shows, an art gallery and a living space for some talented local artists. In such a venue change comes not through protest but through creatively encouraging new ideas. Pushing into the world of entertainment the group has created projects such as First Friday Night Live which often parodies and, more importantly, questions the mainstream world.

Recently the group has created a new independent program called the Arthouse which questions the collective nature of groups just like themselves.  The first three episodes tell the story of Lily, a new house-member, and also gives us a glimpse of the Arthouse’s internal decision-making process and shared living space. Through Lily we get a rare glimpse into the politics and questions that exist in shared power structures.

Through parody of life in the Arthouse, the show provokes questions about similar projects and wider social movements. One challenge comes as the inhabitants must deal with the city over a property rights issue. While the members of the Arthouse share much of their property communally through group decisions made at house meetings, the city operates in a far different manner. While one house member believes “resistance is futile” another tries to rally her friends to use community power through protest.

The Arthouse seems to be off to a good start.  Filmbar, another Roosevelt Row art spot, recently showed part of the program with a packed audience. All three episodes can be seen on Youtube: