K1-430 centers around the creation of student-oriented social space on the
campus of Northwestern University. The project is a synthesis of ideas from four student-
artists—Claire Anderson, Kristyn Armour, Chelsea Bruck, and Kyle Tidd—in response to
both the repressive and unsympathetic attitude of the university’s existing “student center,"
and the absence of student-organized space on campus. The ﬁrst version of K1-430
opened on November 21, 2008, and culminated with a free student concert on December
2. The artists set up chairs, tables, lamps, and rugs in a project room in the main
humanities building. One corner was arranged speciﬁcally for serving coffee. The public
was made aware of the project through the internet, posters hung around campus and
surrounding Evanston, and word-of-mouth.
The absence of commercial inﬂuence, in opposition to existing space on campus, is of
primary importance to the project. K1-430 operates much like a café on barter system.
While drinking coffee is not a requirement for participants to be in the space, it serves as a
stimulus for interaction within the project. In its ﬁrst instantiation, the artists occupied the
room each day for two weeks to provide coffee in exchange for objects or actions of
personal signiﬁcance to the public. Traded objects and actions included the recital of
poetry and song, story-telling, drawings, painting, and other written work. All of these,
material and immaterial, ﬁlled the project room and enriched the space occupied by
students, faculty, and other visitors (at least one class was held there). Where possible,
contributions were archived to create a book of “collected works." This book represents
only one aspect of the project’s aftereffects. The innumerable conversations, connections,
and interactions which took place in K1-430 but elude documentation are at the heart of
Following its ﬁrst instantiation, numerous requests were made for the revival of the project.
In the spring of 2009 a second variation was organized to accompany DEMILITARIZED U,
a work by then-graduate student Aaron Hughes. While this was an abbreviated version
oriented around Hughes’s project, it demonstrated the ﬂexibility of the project model and
the possibility of operating in new and varied conditions. K1-430 remains an example of
public-oriented and collectively-created social and creative space.
Claire Anderson, Kristyn Armour, Chelsea Bruck, Kyle Tidd
Lori Waxman, the wife of our professor Michael Rakowitz, visited the space while it was installed. She exchanged an art review for a cup of coffee.
60 word/min art critic (at large) 11/26/08 10:17-10:43 am
How do you judge a café? By the tastiness and strength of its coffee, the comfort and style of its coffee mugs, the appeal and friendliness of its clientele and staff, the glow and brightness of its lighting, the cleanliness and calm of its furnishings. On the basis of these qualities alone, k1-430 proves a success. The makeshift coffee shop, located on the first floor of Kresge Hall on the Northwestern University campus, offers pretty mismatched furnishings, ample sunlight, and plenty of stimulating conversation. And the finely brewed Intelligentsia coffee costs nothing—at least in terms of dollars and cents. Herein lies the interest of this particular café—coffee is proffered on the basis of a barter system, and the results of these trades are on display everywhere: drawings, poems, small sculptures, homemade CDs, and postcards decorate the walls and tables. More ephemeral exchanges, including the playing of a French horn and the dancing of an Irish jig, transform into legend, which the barista recounts while pouring you a drink. Most swaps seem to overvalue the worth of a cup of coffee—as does my own, thirty minutes or so of critical writing—and in doing so point to just how much a warm, thoughtful, DIY environment means on a campus with corporate snacks, industrial carpeting, and hired help.