Varia is a collective-space1 in Rotterdam focused on everyday technologies.
We believe technology shouldn't be the exclusive domain of specialists. It affects everyone and should enable, rather than preclude, diverse ways of living. We understand everyday technology broadly; not just as computers, standards, or protocols, but also, for example, as cooking tools or musical instruments. Being involved in the fields of art, design, software & hardware, education and theoretical practices, we felt the need for a place where technology and social questions are linked; a place where collaboration, continuity, development, collective learning, curiosity and experiments are foregrounded.
Varia relates to preexisting formats such as hackerspaces, fab-labs and coworking spaces, but it recognizes their limits and actively tries to overcome them. Discussions about technology don't always address the power imbalance between multiple actors, such as large corporations and/or different kinds of users and developers, where class, race, gender and ability play a role. Within Varia, we try to make space for radically different ways of conceiving technology in its social context.
Among the questions we are concerned with are: How do we share knowledge and sustain our digital infrastructures while inter-depending on people or organisations? How can we think of inclusivity in relation to technology? Are old technologies really old-fashioned? How do we engage with obsolescence and sustainability?
Varia favours, without idealising, Free/Libre and Open Source Software (F/LOSS), free culture, open standards, lowtech and DIY/DIWO culture, because they offer the opportunity to shape a different present and leave the door open for desirable futures.
Varia is a collective-space for questions, opinions, interventions, help and action. For example, we facilitate server space, collective learning moments and thematic workgroups. Beside that, our space is used to regularly organize public events such as experimental musical encounters, worksessions and round table conversations with guests.
The collective cultural practice of Varia offers a solidary environment for the practices of the individual members, connecting disparate disciplines and areas of knowledge. This allows us to consider and develop different social and technological infrastructures, while experimenting with and reflecting on them.
As a group, we do not aim to develop one unified voice, but embrace and welcome the multiplicity that makes up Varia. We are aware that our practices and processes don't always lead to a finished product and for this reason we wish to experiment with different modes of engaging, as well as ways of making public.
Varia feels at home in Rotterdam and aims to connect to local independent initiatives and urgencies. We think it is important to connect issues in our local environment to global discussions and vice versa. Varia collaborates with individuals, collectives, non-profit organisations, educational institutions, associations and international networks, that are curious about situating the interdependent relation between technological and current social emergencies.
Varia is not merely a collective, nor merely a space. Varia is an interdependent concatenation of both. ↩