Tracing Utopia in 'Utopia Station'

Bidragets oversatte titel: På sporet af utopien i 'Utopia Station'

Judith Schwarzbart

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskning


This paper will discuss how avant-garde rhetoric and working methods are used to rethink exhibition-making in the wake of the ‘relational aesthetics’ and visual art of the 90s. With Utopia Station curated by Molly Nesbit, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Rirkrit Tiravanija as key example, we will look at the many layers of discourse, ‘thinking-in-process’ and collaboration. These processes led to particular presentational formats (display) and architectural frameworks for activities, and gave way to a variety of other material and situated performative modes of audience encounters. Here, we can trace avant-garde ideas about radical democracy through open processes and active involvement of audience-participants, we can trace formal (architectural) structures back to the Russian constructivism and many other links back in time, but the central question remains if theses ethical-political and aesthetic gestures carries the same meaning and function in a contemporary culture.
Utopia Station unfolded over a long period of time, starting with different gatherings in 2002, continuing with diverse ‘stations’ at the Venice Biennial (2003), Haus der Kunst in Munich (2004), and the World Social Forum in Porte Alegre (2005). Much criticism has hit the project both during the process and in its after-match (e.g. Rogoff, R. in Frieze #77, 2003 and Foster, Krauss, Bois, Buchloh, 2005). Ten years on, however, the discussion – although less heated – is still pertinent when it comes the status of the individual artwork, modes of display, and the particular types of sociality potentially produced in exhibitions. The notion of utopia has moved back into fashion in recent years (with a readers such as Utopia (Documents in Contemporary Art) ed. Richard Noble (2009) and Utopia & Contemporary Art at Arken Museum of Modern Art (Publication due in 2012)). But it seems to differ noticeable from the ideologically driven concept(s) of the 20th century avant-garde. The paper will suggest that we in experiments with openness and structure, with an ambivalent engagement in popular culture and everyday life, and complex double strategy of collaboration with and subversion of institutional and societal structures and revive avant-garde strategies re-imagine utopia.
Bidragets oversatte titelPå sporet af utopien i 'Utopia Station'
Publikationsdato9 sep. 2012
Antal sider6
StatusUdgivet - 9 sep. 2012
BegivenhedMaterial Meanings: Third Biannual conference of the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies (EAM) - University of Kent, Kent, Storbritannien
Varighed: 7 sep. 20129 sep. 2012


KonferenceMaterial Meanings
LokationUniversity of Kent


  • Kuratering,
  • udstillingsanalyse
  • Avantgarde studies
  • Material Meanings

    Judith Schwarzbart (Taler)

    9 sep. 2012

    Aktivitet: Deltagelse i eller arrangering af en begivenhedOrganisation og deltagelse i konference

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