Utopia: Can It Stay Dream?
Curators: Brian R. Jobe and Ryder Richards
Utopia (or the less common spelling “Eutopia”) implies a unified system nearing perfection, a social design operating efficiently and fairly. Housed within the language of Utopia/Eutopia are the opposed meanings “good place” and “no place,” a contradictory warning admonishing the nobility of Utopian pursuits.
Often envisioned as an ideal place, a Utopia must be constructed to encompass all aspects of contemporary life. However, elitist ideas are commonly employed in Utopian design, signaling notions of intellectual escapism and pre-suppositions that abstract humanity. Currently, community based systems are offering undirected Utopias, circumventing imposed institutions by offering a less perfect, infinitely fluid, and more immediate gratification; a mass-backed redefinition of “good.” Yet, there remains a dream of the perfect place or person, a possible nostalgic future designed outside of cynicism with intellectual optimism.
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The digitally-communal, geographically disconnected, band of artists called Culture Laboratory Collective offer reflections on Utopia; a presentation of aesthetically designed trials with a shared aim to edify humanity and/or question social norms. The international collective, started in 2009, includes members Piotr Chizinski (New York City, NY), Sarah Haven (Seattle, WA), Brian R. Jobe (Knoxville, TN), Shreedpad Joglekar (Manhattan, KS), Ryder Richards (Dallas, TX), Sue Anne Rische (Dallas, TX), Ian F. Thomas (Slippery Rock, PA), Dryden Wells (Jingdezhen, China), and Jonathan Whitfill (Lubbock, TX). They have exhibited more than a dozen times in areas as diverse as China, New York, and Texas.