Utopian Pulse

Flares in the Darkroom

Urgent Alternatives:
Utopian Moments


Curated by Ines Doujak and Oliver Ressler

Between February and September 2014 a series of 7 large-scale banners (9 x 3,4 meters) will be presented on the façade of the Secession. They relate to the uprisings, occupations and social movements that have emerged in recent years. The artists are invited to focus on the utopian pulse in these actions and movements. This is most clearly manifested in the integration of how and what was being fought for, a break with the-ends-justify-the-means politics which discredited communistic thinking and politics for so long.

In the period when Syntagma Square in Athens was occupied in active opposition to self-defeating austerity policies, the principles of true democracy was evident throughout. Debates as to actions, methods and alternatives were open, respectful and decisions made on this basis. They included who and what would be spoken to a wider public.

In Tahrir Square, Cairo in 2011 a determination that the machinery of state violence could be overcome by surrounding tanks was crucial in the early victories of the movement. This should not be forgotten in its defeat by rival forms of authoritarian politics. Part of the failure by the initial movement was to build durable democratic structures. In Istanbul just last year the determination was to hold the common property of a park that made life bearable in the city, an action with global resonance of defending the commons against the many forms of predatory enclosure.

All the artists in URGENT ALTERNATIVES: UTOPIAN MOMENTS have in common that they are directly involved in the protests they focus on in their banner, or talk from a clear, unequivocal position of solidarity.

Banners have been installed by the Viennese campaign Fluchthilfe & Du (February 2014), Halil Altindere from Istanbul (March 2014), Wealth of Negations from London (April 2014), Nobodycorp. Internationale Unlimited from Jakarta (May 2014), Etcétera from Buenos Aires (June 2014), Oreet Ashery from London (July 2014) and Daniela Ortiz from Barcelona (August 2014).

This initial series of banners can be seen as symptomatic of how utopian thinking, which for years seemed to be buried, has revived with a sense of urgency. It is the idea that things can carry on as they are which is real wishful thinking.

This series will then directly evolve into a second series of banners created by a group of artist-curators—Ayreen Anastas / Rene Gabri1, Zanny Begg, Mariam Ghani, Miguel A. López, Pedro G. Romero/Archivo F.X., Christoph Schäfer and Bert Theis—who will produce one banner each between September and November 2014 in relation to their 1-week long research exhibitions in the Secession.

1 These artists reject the term “curator” for their practice.