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.