The utopian and anti-utopian in contemporary body utopias

Franziska Bork Petersen

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskning


In this paper I pursue two intentions: to investigate utopia as what (potentially) results from utopian actions, on the one hand. On the other, I want to shed light on the entanglement with anti-utopia in these utopian actions. The ‘actions’ I study are defined as embodied practices. I draw them from the sphere of performance art, as well as activism and more everyday practices, such as beautifying body modifications (cosmetic surgery, makeup, bodybuilding). Bodies have always been and are, especially today, a valid site for utopianism. Levitas and others have acknowledged a shift in utopianism, in which the body has become “what is to be transformed (...) by ornament, diet, exercise and surgical intervention” (2000: 34, see also Morris 1994). Utopian desires appear as co-opted by anti-utopianism, in the sense that these practices arguably maintain the status quo. Yet, I want to propose that this need not be the case in all embodied practices that express utopian desire on the individual body. In the presentation, I will exemplify how performance artists such as Emma Sulkowicz or Johannes Paul Raether use their individual bodies as sites to stage a utopian ‘no’ which concerns an explicitly collective ‘good’. Qua their live embodiment, they bring their utopianism to the present.
Publikationsdato3 jul. 2019
StatusUdgivet - 3 jul. 2019
Begivenhed20th International conference of the Utopian Studies Society, Europe: Utopia, Dystopia and Climate Change - Monash University Prato Centre, Prato, Italien
Varighed: 1 jul. 20195 jul. 2019
Konferencens nummer: 20


Konference20th International conference of the Utopian Studies Society, Europe
LokationMonash University Prato Centre

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