Felipe Vivero, Old New Suns, inspired by
Felipe Vivero, Old New Suns, inspired by Octavia E. Butler, There is nothing new under the sun but there are new suns, image, 2024
until 5 July 2024
Utopia*Art*Politics Sessions

How might artistic practices enable radical imagination and politics?

From 3–5 July 2024, the Urban Futures Studio and Community Portal at BAK convene 30 artist-researcher-practitioners to explore this question. Three moments of the event are open to the public and free for registration below.

It feels harder than ever to imagine a future that is both collectively desirable and achievable. Mainstream politics have often deepened this crisis of imagination by furthering marginalization, polarization, and apathy. Now trapped between a populist pull towards imagined ‘utopian’ pasts and a technocratic push towards imagined ‘utopian’ futures, the time is ripe to revitalize our utopian imagination and politics.

The Utopia*Art*Politics Sessions explore the potential of utopia as a creative and plural method for justice. Artistic practices—storytelling, visioning, theatre, music, and more—play a powerful role in activating our imagination of possible futures and reinterpretation of past and present moments. Such practices can make visible what has been silenced, disrupt our ‘common sense,’ traverse conflicting imaginaries, offer glimpses of a world otherwise, and compel people towards action. This event brings together 30 artist-researcher-practitioners actively experimenting with how artistic practices can help reimagine and remake our world.

Dialogue sessions occur in a closed space with invited guests. However, three parts of the event—keynotes by Lola Olufemi and Stephen Duncombe, and a performance evening—are open for public registration. An output is released following the event to share generated insights.

Keynote: Lola Olufemi, Author of Experiments in Imagining Otherwise
How can artistic practices foster radical imagination, and for what purpose?
Thursday 4 July 2024 9:30–11 hrs

This keynote, styled in fragments, explores the relationship between creative practices of refusal and the imagination. It uses archival material related to radical social movements as a starting point for examining the productive tensions between ‘art’ and ‘politics,’ as well as their fundamental interrelation. It explores the interests of the artist-worker and their duty to respond to the current political conjuncture.

Read the biography of Lola Olufemi here.

Performance event: Dreaming in the Dark
What radical potential lies at the heart of utopia, art, and politics?
Thursday 4 July 2024 19–22 hrs, including drinks

Join us to imagine radically just futures amidst our troublesome times. Dreaming in the Dark weaves together a mosaic of performative provocations from the 15+ artist-researcher-practitioners attending the full UtopiaArtPolitics Sessions. Through live performances involving striking visuals, stories, music, and more, we provoke new ideas around the questions: How can we imagine more radically together? What is the role of art in fostering collective imagination? And how can such imaginative acts enable transformative politics? In essence, what radical potential lies at the heart of utopia, art, and politics? Rather than stay asleep amongst utopian ruins from the past, this event provokes us to dream radically otherwise, in ways that attend to colonial legacies and systemic injustices.

Keynote: Stephen Duncombe, Co-Founder of The Center for Artistic Activism
How can radical imagination enable alternative politics, and for what change?
Friday 5 July 2024 9.30–11 hrs

Utopia translates to No-Place: a land that cannot be found, a world that remains elusive; in the words of Leon Trotsky: a “fire of the imagination.” But what might be the lasting effect of the affect of radical imagination? Drawing on his lengthy experience studying and staging utopian experiments, Stephen Duncombe explores the different ways that Utopia might lead Some-Place, whether as a prefiguration of a world to become; a training ground for alternative ways of thinking, feeling, and doing in the here and now; a performative platform to experiment with possibilities; or a concrete pathway to institutional change.

Read the biography of Stephen Duncombe here.

If you'd like to attend one or more parts of this event, please register here.

About the organizers:
Josie Chambers, Assistant Professor, Urban Futures Studio
Alejandro Navarete Cortés, Communities & Praxis Coordinator, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht

This event is supported by the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University.
Credits background image: Felipe Vivero, Old New Suns, inspired by Octavia E. Butler, There is nothing new under the sun but there are new suns, image, 2024.

From 3–5 July 2024

Opening 3 July 2024 19 hrs

Location: BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht

Entrance fee: Free entrance, registration required

Contact: j.m.chambers@uu.nl