utopia:dystopia - in the world, in the mind, in conversation
Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 6:39PM
Curator
utopia:dystopia
A series of exhibitions and events inspired by the 500th anniversary of the publication of Utopia, Thomas More's reflections on the concept of an ideal society.
In the 1500s England was very far from a perfect society, and Thomas More had his head chopped off by Henry VIII, standing up for what he believed in. And there is still no certainty as to whether Utopia was a satire on the impossibility of perfection, or a dream of what could be.
The title is a pun, based on the contradictory ideas of the Greek words for good-place and no-place. Yet the desire for Utopia, as an expression of the best of what humans can achieve, has never really disappeared. Nor has the idea of its opposite, Dystopia, Greek for bad-place. These words and ideas often seeming inseparable from each other.

The exhibitions and events of FaB16 explore what these twin concepts might mean to us today. At the Walcot Chapel artists respond to utopia:dystopia in the world. Five minutes walk away, in the basement of 94 Walcot Street, artists respond to utopia:dystopia in the mind. Whilst utopia:dystopia in conversation - held at Bath School of Art and Design - offers thinkers, writers and listeners to engage with themes that correspond with the highest of our aspirations and the worst of our nightmares.

On two Thursday evenings there are presentations of utopia:dystopia themed poetry films, live poetry and dance at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution in Queen Square. These events are organised by Liberated Words, in association with FaB16. And a collaboration with the Holburne Museum brings their Gardener’s Lodge group to make and show new work at our Walcot Street venues. Altogether more than a hundred visual and performance artists and other creative contributors make this a rich encounter with a subject that never really leaves us alone.

utopia:dystopia in the world
One of Bath’s favourite venues, Walcot Chapel, is transformed by a floating meadow and a waterfall into somewhere to reflect on visions of the perfect place - and, of course, on places of darkness, disillusion, destruction. Painters, photographers and performance artists reflect on humankind’s confused and contradictory relationship with nature. 
utopia:dystopia in the mind
In a subterranean setting at FaB 2, 94 Walcot Street, the mood is much darker, both literally and metaphorically. The recently departed writer, J.G.Ballard, once said that the true dystopia in the dystopia of the mind. This exhibition explores the unquiet mind, inviting visitors to face the dystopias we carry within us.
utopia:dystopia in conversation
A free and open conversation in the lecture theatre of the Bath School of Art and Design, where artists, writers, thinkers and anyone else who wants to join in can engage with themes that correspond with the best of our aspirations and the worst of our nightmares. The conversation concludes with a guided stroll through utopian bath, wearing dystopian glasses.

Article originally appeared on Fringe Arts Bath Festival (http://www.fringeartsbath.co.uk/).
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