Finissage

At the end of our month, we began to work on setting up our finissage. We decided to present resources that would serve for reflection on the ambiguity of some of the themes that had been part of our conversations with participants, our research, and were serving as tools for the continuation of our project.

The whole month had been a reflection on the topic, alone and with visitors, and it was only fitting that the final day would have stations for reflections about the ambiguity of the main themes. Whenever we looked deeper into the major themes discussed the differences between today’s reality and today’s utopias were never clear cut, and sometimes it wasn’t clear what was positive or negative dream/reality.

We began by organizing the wall in the gallery in which we had been posting our ideas about the various themes that appeared in participant’s utopias, mapping the relationships between the concepts and selecting which themes we wanted to present during the finissage. As all the themes were interconnected, we decided that we would create stations in the gallery, each one a thinking point for a set of interconnected themes. We would present just a few resources that reflected the interconnected themes and displayed their ambiguity.

We hung up translation of all of the utopias gathered, displayed photographs from the month and the children’s utopias, as well as had a place for visitors to continue to write their utopias on postcards and view various research texts.

The Stations!

  • Universal Communication, Freedom of Movement (No Borders), Multiculturalism, Equality of Opportunity/More Economic Equality, Liberal, Equality of People, Less Norms, Religion as an Individual Choice (Not a Religious State)

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From left to right:

  1. This purse was offered to me by a Nepalese friend during the time we shared an apartment. When she arrived in Portugal, she had great difficulty finding a job and was very close to becoming a victim of human trafficking. Despite having a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in nursing, she could not practice in Lisbon as her degree is not recognized here, so she washed dishes at a restaurant. Her boyfriend, a Bangladeshi Muslim, was living Oslo. She was forced to move to Lisbon without him because she was unable to pass the Norwegian test that would have allowed her to stay in Oslo. As she is Hare Krishna, neither of their families accept their relationship. At the time, they had been in a long-distance relationship for over two years.
  2. The languages books are translated into show how hard it is to share your ideas and access other people’s if you do not speak one of the main universal languages. In addition, concepts, meanings, and feelings can be easily lost due to the inability to bridge gaps between languages and poor translations.
  3. Video: Please go to: bit.do/gagadance
  4. Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company and Batsheva Ensemble describes the unique movement vocabulary he developed which is now the daily training for the dancers at Batsheva.
  5. Street sign in Israel asking woman to avoid walking/being on this sidewalk.
  • Mutual Responsibility, Sharing Community, Mutliculturalism, Nature, Environment, Seasons, Health

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From Left to Right:

  1. Video of unprotected river.
  2. Due to the inability of humans to respect nature, other cultures, and fellow human beings the legislature in New Zealand granted the Whanganui River the same rights as human beings in 2017.
  • Equality of Opportunity/More Economic Equality, Mutual Responsibility, Multiculturalism, Music/Art/Culture, Accessible Art, Free Education, Sharing Community, Public Spaces

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From left to right:

  1. This still from Rui Mourão’s performance, Act I: OUR DREAMS DON’T FIT IN THEIR BALLOT BOXES, shows participants hanging up signs criticizing the high prices of public museums in Portugal.
  2. Palais de Tokyo (Paris): Homeless with all his possessions sleeping by Abraham Poincheval’s work. (Poincheval stood on the platform in the picture for a week with all of his possessions).
  3. DOMA’s work displays the “true” cultural center of São Paulo (the lively Lunchonette filled with people) vs. São Paulo’s contemporary art museum, the MASP, empty of visitors.
  4. Expensive NYC MOMA ticket
  5. OUR UTOPIA TODAY: IRMÃOS MAKOSSA PLAYING AT THE FINISSAGE
  6. Video: Opera classes and free concerts in the park
  7. Less Work Hours (Machines do all the Menial Work), Non 9-5 Work Structure, Healthy Society, Less Stress, Time is Slower, No Violence
  8. Jose Antonio Abreu, Founder of El Sistema, Venezuela’s Youth Orchestra. Excerpts from his TED Prize acceptance speech (2009).
  • Less Work Hours (Machines do all the Menial Work), Non 9-5 Work Structure, Healthy Society, Less Stress, Time is Slower, No Violence

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Video clip: Employees cleaning the metro with basic resources (projected on the wall) vs. more time for leisure (projected on the postcards describing utopian places).

 

Pictures of the different resources:

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The finissage was really exciting and emotional for us! Here are some more pictures from the evening!

 

Entre os dias 15 a 19

A ideia para este “laboratório” seria precisamente deixar tudo em aberto, não tínhamos propriamente nada planeado. A única coisa que sabíamos era que ao fim de um ano de skypes entre Tel Aviv e Lisboa, seria importante estarmos no mesmo espaço fisicamente para o desenvolvimento desta ideia. Sabíamos que queríamos transformar um espaço “white cube” num lugar mais confortável, de forma a podermos ter conversas com os visitantes, mas a forma como iríamos processar as informações estava em aberto.

Estamos a começar a organizar os temas por grupos e a ver quais são os mais importantes para as pessoas que temos entrevistado. A partir destes temas estamos a contrapor exemplos da realidade e das utopias que as pessoas têm partilhado connosco.

Mais do que trabalho visual, temo-nos dedicado a longas conversas com as pessoas que aparecem. Não sabíamos como as pessoas iriam reagir e se iriam “perder” muito tempo com este projecto, mas não paramos de nos surpreender com o quão interessantes e longas as conversas têm sido e nos têm levado a pensar em muitas outras questões. Cada pessoa tem um contexto e uma história muito especificas e é quase como que uma viagem com cada conversa.

 

Temos tido visitas de pessoas de países como França, Itália, Bélgica, África do Sul, Estados Unidos, Israel, Escócia… A maioria são pessoas que se mudaram para Lisboa recentemente depois de terem estado noutros lugares. Com todas estas pessoas foi falado este assunto tão presente da gentrificação e como o real problema não são estes jovens que trabalham em áreas criativas que se querem estabelecer em Lisboa, mas os que têm um elevado poder de compra e pensam em Lisboa como um investimento, não morando necessariamente na cidade, mas muitas vezes alugando a preços altíssimo ou em alojamento local. Um quarto em Lisboa neste momento vale em média o mesmo que o salário mínimo em Portugal e tem vindo a aumentar.

Houve uma mini-viagem a Luanda no passado, como um lugar com cores e cheiros intensos que contrastava imenso com Lisboa na altura da ditadura, descrita como um lugar sombrio, pálido, com falta de energia e de contacto entre as pessoas. Falou-se sobre a transformação das cidades, mesmo aquelas que não passaram por 30 anos de guerra, mas que sofreram alterações mais subtis. Tanto essa Luanda como essa Lisboa deixaram de existir e passaram a ser outros lugares completamente distintos.

Na conversa sobre coleccionismo e utopias, convidámos José Neiva para nos falar um pouco sobre a sua experiência de coleccionador, que já tem mais de 50 anos. Também nesta conversa surgiu a questão do fascismo e um passado de pobreza extrema no interior e em zonas rurais do país que foi testemunhado e descrito em pormenor. Há uma ligação entre o facto de ter presenciado esta realidade e a necessidade de preservar a sua memória através de objectos ligados ao campo, à agricultura, ao artesanato funcional e uma enorme variedade de objectos populares. Mais do que objectos, a colecção representa memórias.

 

ENGLISH

As the idea for this “laboratory” was precisely to leave everything open, we did not have anything exactly planned. The only thing we knew was that at the end of a year of Skypes between Tel Aviv and Lisbon, it would be important to be in the same physical space for the development of this idea. We knew we wanted to turn a white cube into a more comfortable place so we could have conversations with visitors, but the way we were going to process the information was open.

We are starting to organize the themes by groups and see which are the most important to the people we have interviewed. From these themes we are finding examples of reality and the utopias that people have shared with us.

More than visual work, we are dedicated to long conversations with the people that come in. We did not know how people would react and if they would “waste” a lot of time on this project, but we have continued to be surprised at how interesting and long the conversations have been and they have led us to think about many other issues. Each person has a very specific context and history and it’s almost like a trip with every conversation.

We have had visits from people from France, Italy, Belgium, South Africa, United States, Israel, Scotland … Most are people who have moved to Lisbon recently after living in other places. With all these people the subject of gentrification was discussed, as the real problem is not these young people who work in creative areas that want to establish themselves in Lisbon, but those who have a high purchasing power and think of Lisbon as an investment. They are often not necessarily living in the city, but often renting at high prices and leaving local accommodations empty most of the year. The price of a room in Lisbon is currently worth the same as the minimum wage in Portugal and rents are continuing to increase.

There was a mini-trip to a past Luanda; a place with intense colors and smells that contrasted immensely with Lisbon at the time of the dictatorship, which was described as a dark, pale place with a lack of energy and contact between people. We talked about the transformation of cities, even those that did not go through 30 years of war, but which underwent more subtle changes. Both the previous Luanda and previous Lisbon have ceased to exist and become other completely different places.

In the conversation about collectivism and utopias, we invited José Neiva to tell us a little bit about his experience as a collector for more than 50 years. Also in this conversation the question of fascism came up, and Portugal’s past of extreme poverty, specifically in rural areas. For José there is a connection between having witnessed this reality and the need to preserve its memory through objects related to the countryside, agriculture, functional crafts and a huge variety of popular objects. More than objects, the collection represents memories.

Coleccionismo e Utopias

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Há uma intenção de reunir várias amostras do mundo neste colecção particular, que está a ser desenvolvida há pouco mais de 50 anos. O acto de procurar, analisar, adquirir, categorizar e integrar cada novo objecto nas mais variadas áreas temáticas que compõem esta colecção, que se distribui organicamente pelas prateleiras, paredes e recantos da casa que a acolhe, demonstra uma constante curiosidade pela diversidade natural e cultural do mundo. Vamos ter uma conversa sobre esta fantástica colecção com o seu autor, que a apelida de “espaço de memórias”.

Dias 10, 11 e 12

Estes últimos dias têm sido bastante produtivos, com mais utopias partilhadas, com o desenvolvimento da pesquisa e com a manhã de atelier para crianças.

No meio das inúmeras conversas que tivemos ao longo dos últimos meses pelo skype, em que trocávamos ideias e partilhávamos o material que andávamos a consultar, constatámos que a educação é provavelmente a ferramenta mais capaz de transformar uma sociedade e foi nesse sentido que pensámos na ideia de ter uma parte do estúdio com um atelier para crianças.

A manhã de sábado foi fantástica e por isso decidimos deixar os materiais disponíveis para o projecto ter continuidade até ao fim do mês!

 

Some thoughts from Netta

When this project began, the main importance for me was that it made people think. It made people take an hour from their day to day to ask some questions about their world and think about their lives. What did they really want from life? What did they want from the place and people around them? Did the place around them enable them to live the way they wanted to live? If yes, why? Did they appreciate it? And if not, was there something they could do to make it more like what they wished for? The question about utopia, an ideal place, a no place, was just a trigger to think, question, and look at the world for a moment.

Throughout the past year people have shared their time with me, others around them, and most importantly, themselves to try to answer the question about utopia. They shared beautiful ideas, frustrations and enthusiasm with the question and their lives, and I was lucky enough to share many of these moments. Even better, I got to hear afterwards about how they continued to think about the question, or they discussed it with someone else and had new thoughts and ideas. For me, this ripple effect of a simple question was by far the most exciting part.

As we continued our research, I started to read more about utopias, homes, places, essays about other projects on utopia, and the significance of the project for me began to shift. On a personal level, although my world enables me to live a way of being that I could only dream of, my perspective and thoughts on the world around me are grim (at best). Although I have hope for shaking people a little into thinking (a bit), and I enjoy the conversations immensely, I don’t honestly have much hope for the utopias hanging on the postcards in the gallery.

In what I’d like to refer to as my Phase II of thinking about the project (which is currently running in parallel to Phase I), I am trying to help myself understand and process the conversations by appropriately contrasting the different utopias constructed with the world and reality that I see around me. Where are these beautiful images and ideas rooted? Do they show us anything about what we have (or what we don’t)? Why, given our world today, are people asking for these specific things in their utopia? How is it possible that people are asking for specific items over and over, but then these same people are going out and acting in a contradictory fashion? These are just the beginnings of our many questions that I am trying to ask myself, many of which I assume will shortly be exchanged and replaced by other and better questions (until the next turning point).

On our research wall in the gallery Filipa and I have begun to display the brainstorm of our ideas for the contrasts of the major items people are asking for in their utopias. I wanted to share with you some experimentations of using these images/ideas as contrasts in comparison to the utopias. I’m only posting photos here (no videos, yet). These images are just the very beginning of the visual representation of this initial idea, but we’re hoping to share more with you at the closing in August.

 

Art in Utopias

 

 

O resto do fim-de-semana foi um sucesso e sentimo-nos cheias de energia pelas inúmeras e interessantes conversas!

Tivemos conversas fascinantes sobre como é que o mundo da arte seria no lugar ideal. Nestas utopias, a arte seria apresentada em mais espaços públicos e seria mais acessível, acolhedora e participativa. Tentámos fazer com que o espaço da galeria fosse acolhedor (dentro do possível do espaço de uma galeria) e considerámos esta questão bastante pertinente – quão acessível pode a arte ser dentro de uma galeria?  Também foi discutida a questão de como poderia haver mais oportunidades para os artistas apresentarem os seus trabalhos (por exemplo, mais espaços públicos para expor arte e mais oportunidades para novos artistas exporem sem se preocuparem com a venda das peças, etc.)

Também houve algumas utopias em que a sociedade teria noções diferentes no que diz respeito a relações, sexualidade e estrutura básica familiar. As pessoas poderiam ter relações e formar uma família da forma que entendessem, desde que fossem felizes e ninguém fosse afectado por isso.

As utopias também reclamaram a educação gratuita (universidade incluída) e um sistema educacional que iria para além das disciplinas e idades tradicionais. A educação teria por base estimular a criatividade, as experiências e o pensamento individual.

 

ENGLISH

The rest of the weekend was a great success and we felt energized by many interesting conversations!

We had fascinating conversations about how the art world would look in people’s ideal place. In people’s utopias art would be more presented in many more public spaces and would be more accessible, welcoming, and engaging. We have tried to make our space welcoming (as welcoming as possible within a gallery) and we found this a valuable question — how accessible can art truly be while still within a gallery space? People also discussed how there would be many more opportunities for artists to present (for example, more publicly funded places for display of art, young artists have opportunities to display without worry of selling art pieces, etc.)

There were also a few utopias in which society had different notions of relationships, sexuality, and nuclear family compositions. People could have the relationships and form the families they wanted as long as they were happy and no one was harmed.

The utopias also called for free education (including university) and an education system that went beyond traditional subject and traditional ages. Education would encourage creativity, experiences, and individual thinking.

 

Day #1

3 de Agosto

No primeiro dia aberto ao público, as conversas sobre utopias estenderam-se até tarde.

Falou-se sobretudo sobre a a livre circulação entre países e sobre a existência de uma língua global. No entanto, continuaria a haver diversidade cultural e de idiomas, mas havia uma forma de comunicação comum a todos que permitia que não houvesse barreiras de comunicação. Ainda dentro deste tema, numa das utopias a comunicação seria simples, no sentido em que as ideias, conceitos, sentimentos, seriam expressos e entendidos de uma forma clara, o que provavelmente evitaria muitos problemas no mundo.  A linguagem gestual e o braille passariam a ter também uma forma universal.

Tem sido comum a quase todas as utopias uma redução significativa do número de horas de trabalho, de forma a que as pessoas possam realmente viver e ter qualidade de vida. Ou seja o tempo seria essencialmente para viver e não para trabalhar. Nessas utopias, as máquinas iriam desempenhar um papel fundamental e tudo o que fossem trabalhos demasiado repetitivos e fisicamente exigentes não seriam executados por seres humanos.

Foi também levantada a questão da saúde e da longevidade de vida do ser humano e se seria importante erradicar totalmente a doença. A questão seria se a vida deixaria de ter o significado que tem para nós hoje em dia se houvesse desenvolvimento cientifico ao ponto de haver uma mudança radical na área da saúde.

ENGLISH

August 3
On the first day open to the public, conversations about utopias continued until late.

There was talk mainly of free movement between countries and of the existence of a global language. There would still be cultural and language diversity, but there would be a common form of communication that would allow for a world without communication barriers. In one of the utopias discussed communication would be simple, in the sense that ideas, concepts, and feelings would be expressed and understood in a clear way; it was felt that better communication would lead to fewer problems in the world. Sign language and Braille would also have a universal form.

Many of the utopias called for a significant reduction in the number of hours of work so that people could really live their personal lives and have a better quality of life. In other words, time would be spent living and not working. In these utopias machines would play a fundamental role, and anything that was too repetitive and physically demanding would not be performed by humans.

The question of the health and longevity of human life was also raised and whether it would be possible/important to totally eradicate diseases. Would life no longer have the meaning it has for us today if there were scientific developments to the point of a radical change in the area of ​​health?