UTOPIA. Keep on Moving New Forgotten Utopias

Readings, Performances, Music

Speculating, fabulating, building worlds – what strategies are used by artists and writers to meet the challenges of societies and the planet today? Are utopian concepts still possible in the face of complex realities or oppressive political environments? Who defines utopias, their geographies and stories? Akademie members and JUNGE AKADEMIE fellows lynn t musiol, Nazanin Noori with Andrea Belfi, Katharina Schultens and Sophie Seita scrutinise forgotten and new utopian narratives, figures, maps, and social concepts. Through readings of still unpublished prose and poetry fragments as well as newly developed performances and concerts, the artists reflect on and test the potential of the utopian and its failures, of political art and poetry, as well as queer futurities beyond “Cruel Optimism” (Lauren Berlant). With musical interventions by Steloolive.

lynn t musiol – Love Porn!
“You must believe in something”, sings Frank Ocean on Nostalgia, Ultra, his debut release in 2011. Many years later, we also wonder: do faith and sensuality change in times of crisis? How do we desire when the hellscapes we encounter are no longer only on our screens? How do we navigate ecological intimacies, when nature starts to lose its familiar face? These are the questions lynn t musiol is dealing with in their utopian novel-in-progress Love Porn! (AT), exploring the connection between the climate crisis and intimacy in the 2050s. In doing so, they examine queer pasts as well, in order to be able to imagine the future forms of present lives. Just like lynn t musiol’s theatrical work BUCCI x ꒰(・ ‿ ・)꒱, the novel is part of a search process that explores the materialities, structures and surfaces of queer forms and reassembles them in the spirit of the practice of denormalization.

Sophie Seita – These Devices Became Law
These Devices Became Law is a new performance and textile work by Sophie Seita that responds to two historical utopias: Thomas More’s Utopia and Madeleine de Scudéry's Clélie and specifically the maps that represent their vision. The project deals with the flaws and fault lines of these utopias, and hooks their far-away-ness to the here and now of material reality. Seita also returns to queer performance theorist Jose Muñoz who defined utopia as “not prescriptive; [...] a horizon of possibility, not a fixed schema”, but also importantly as “a stage”. In the process, the work interrogates and imagines deconstructed geographies, violent maps, tender maps, queer maps, unnavigable maps, indecipherable maps – the gauze that dresses a wound. The work is situated within a larger project on queer performance scores that uses artistic research, experimental drawing, social practice, and somatic workshops, developed in dialogue with Creative Darlington, Darlington Library, Curious Arts, and the Akademie der Künste.

Katharina Schultens – Cursing a number of former utopias and organizing the provisional establishment of yet another, which will also have to be cursed with a very last breath
A reworked and shortened version of a yet unpublished longer poetry project by Katharina Schultens. It initially draws on a pivotal poem by Bertolt Brecht from the late 1920s, 700 intellectuals pray to an oil tank, to engage with the utopian idea of art as a medium of political discourse or societal change. It scrutinises representations of the so-called “critical intellectual” as seen in the German postwar period up until the 1990s, a construct that has become increasingly distorted in recent decades, especially in an ongoing social media discourse and in spite of the utopian idea, also proposed in the 1990s, of free and equal online conversation as a stabilizing factor for democracies. Further poems juxtapose current versions of this construct and the toxicity of ongoing social media discourses with the politically iridescent figure of Russian poet Marina Zwetajewa, who hanged herself in 1941 after her husband had been sentenced to death and her daughter had been imprisoned under the Stalin regime. The very last poems attempt to dream up an impossible space and ask: what would be possible conditions for a space that would allow us to actually talk to one another? How can we go to those crucial places where it hurts – without doing one another quite so much harm?

The sound interventions by artist Steloolive are based on his personal archive of voices, sounds and noises from Accra (Ghana) and the world, which forms a container for new and forgotten utopias. He connects electronic music with unconventional elements and reflects on the possibilities of sound. For New Forgotten Utopias he combines this archive with live recordings of the participating artists, reacts on their utopian state of mind and develops it further into a dynamic space.

Nazanin Noori with Andrea Belfi – THANK YOU FOR HAVING PENETRATED THE ESSENCE OF THIS WORK SO DEEPLY, WHICH I HOLD MOST DEAR. A Rework of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 15.
The Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich lived under the oppressive regime of the Soviet Union. Most of his music was banned, many of his family members, friends and colleagues were imprisoned and executed, after he was deemed an enemy of the people by Stalin in 1936. The Communist utopia was disenchanted in his music. He included anti-regime messages within his works, musically expressing his dissent and resistance against censorship and control. Even the propaganda music that he was forced to write, overstated nationalistic spirit to absurdity. His turn to the string quartet form in 1938 was his way of eliminating orchestral hierarchical structures and composing in a manner, in which he could be less observed and therefore more open. String Quartet No. 15 is the composer’s last. It premiered in 1974, one year before his death. Drummer Andrea Belfi and modular synthetist and vocalist Nazanin Noori have reworked the piece under the title THANK YOU FOR HAVING PENETRATED THE ESSENCE OF THIS WORK SO DEEPLY, WHICH I HOLD MOST DEAR. by deconstructing and reinterpreting the original themes with both tonal and atonal rhythms, electronic textures and vocal layers as an homage to the original. The performance reflects on the possibilities of art as an emotional documentation of times and histories, the fatal impact of utopian ideas in the context of authoritarian regimes and the complexity of artistic resistance.

Saturday, 4 May 2024

7:30 pm


Studio Lobby

With lynn t musiol, Nazanin Noori with Andrea Belfi, Katharina Schultens, Sophie Seita and Steloolive

In German and English

€ 7.50/5

Day ticket
(in combination with Concrete Utopias)
€ 12/8