Matej Vakula


International, based in Slovakia and NewYork, New York


Manuals for Public Space (MfPS) is a grassroots platform where people from around the world exchange ideas about how to improve public space. Inspired by ideas that are based in “open source” sharing, the ideas and recommendations that come from this exchange are used to create printed and electronic manuals on how step by step, to recapture public space and make it more accessible and respondent to community needs. Through research, comparison, correspondence, and exchange, Matej Vakula is examining how space around the world is used, creating ways to preserve the public spaces that remain, and addressing questions such as “What do we mean when we say public space?”


People are encouraged to share and use the manuals across cultures, countries and disciplines. MfPS is a multi-media piece that includes: audio files from interviews and workshops, led by Matej Vakula, with and for people about public space; printed and digital manuals that arose from the content and process of the interviews and workshops; and a blog where people can share their thoughts and ideas about public space as well as their own manuals.


MfPS began in 2011 as an exchange of manuals between the former Eastern Bloc countries and the United States. Material from this exchange was exhibited at threewalls gallery in Chicago in the fall of 2011. Material from workshops in New York, Boston and Slovakia have been exhibited in Bratislava in the fall of 2012. With this project, Vakula is developing an international, participatory grass roots community built around a small traveling multimedia manuals library and an interactive website where people can freely exchange their ideas about and experiences of public space.