…Optimism is dying out. The promised paradise has been privatized. The Kibbutz apples and watermelons are no longer as ripe… (Yael Bartana)
In March of this year was invited to take part in the latest iteration of Sophie Warren and Jonathan Mosley’s travelling tour, the Utopian talk-show line-up. The event took place at Moderna Museet, Malmö, and featured Maria Engberg as MC along with readers Ida Börjel, Ole Lykke Andersen, Lena Mattsson and myself. For the readings, we were gathered in the Loading Dock room of the museum, which was impressively decked out floor to ceiling with the Utopia Station collection of posters curated by Molly Nesbit, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rirkrit Tiravanija.
As the blurb for the show indicates, the focus for the readings was to be on a notion of the “architecture of utopia”:
Utopian talk-show line-up is conceived as a hybrid talk-show/game-show exploring the notion of Utopia. A line-up table is transformed by a graphic framework, a page from a book rescaled and now occupied by readers and objects, staging the table as a discursive territory. The invited protagonists choose and read passages from science fiction to critical texts according to the rules of an MC. Read in rapid-fire format the spoken texts imagine and attend to the “architecture of utopia”. The event asks what may be considered as Utopia, within the imagination, within the everyday, within the city; and what is its architecture, its system, its experience?
We were asked to come with five readings, and were warned that the MC might cut us off at any time before the maximum one minute mark for each individual passage. My selection of readings for the talk most likely reflects an interest in the situated and contested qualities of utopian exercises, rather than the typically abstracted versions that we are so often presented with. The majority of the readings from the night have now been made available in video form, with only the ones read in Swedish and Danish still to be shared, hence my reading of the Swedish translation of Yael Bartana’s “Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland: A Manifesto” (in And Europe Will Be Stunned) is still due to be uploaded with English subtitles.
1. Felicity D. Scott, ‘Woodstockholm’, in Meg McLagan and Yates McKee (eds) Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Activism, MIT Press, 2012:
2. Krzysztof Wodiczko, ‘Designing for the City of Strangers’, in Critical Vehicles – Writings, Projects, Interviews, MIT Press, 1999:
3. For this video, Lena Mattsson and myself read one after the other from Lee Stickells and Sophie Warren’s ‘Agonistic Vocabulary’, in Beyond Utopia, Warren and Mosley, Errant Bodies Press/Surface Tension Supplement #5, 2012:
4. Twitter search off a mobile phone for “architecture” “of” “#utopia” (https://twitter.com/search?q=architecture%20of%20%23utopia&src=typd) in which only the hashtags within each tweet recited: