Utopia Now Here

Ramia Mazé, Sara Brolund de Carvalho, Magnus Ericson, Hélène Frichot, Maria Hellström Reimer, Helena Mattsson, Meike Schalk

Project Period: 2014-2015
Type: Senior research project
Program Area(s): Critical Projections


In 2014, the ‘manifesto’ is a prominent and recurrent theme in international events such as the Istanbul Design Biennale. This theme raises spectres of modernist and contemporary rhetorics and images of singular, total and complete futures by design. Our objective in this project is to collect, discuss and problematize notions of the manifesto, through a critical exploration of utopics. We ask: What are understandings and practices of utopics that are relevant today, and what forms and politics may they manifest?

The project will be developed through reflection on practical cases and theories of utopics. Utopics, as concepts of ‘fiction practice’, ‘embodied’- and ‘lived utopias’ are reflected on and developed through cases in which members of the project team are involved. Cases include examples of historiographic, curatorial, pedagogic, and art/design practice, for example the event “Utopian Talk-Show Line-Up”, the course “Architecture and Gender”, designs for “Switch! Energy Futures”, and the exhibit “Action Archive”. These are related projects, but conducted in the past or in parallel
and involving other collaborators and contexts. In this project, knowledge and experiences from across these projects will be supported, shared and developed through seminars, joint visits, individual and collaborative reflection, dialog and writing practices. We argue that utopics is not about the projection of a future, but rather systems of thinking and practices with distinct forms of aesthetics and politics that make it possible to imagine and enact radical difference in the present. Our proposed public presentation/installation of the project at the Istanbul Design Biennale will contribute to expanding and deepening notions of the manifesto through utopics. Discussion with experts, practitioners and the public at the Biennale will feedback into our research, and outcomes will include one or more academic articles.

Researcher(s) Bio and Publications

All Critical Projections Projects