November 5, 2016
Frascati Theater, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
The Congress of Utopia was organized for the occasion of the five-hundred-year anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia. In recent times, the term utopia has increasingly become equated with totalitarian tendencies. The Congress of Utopia instead aimed to reclaim the importance of utopia as a means to imagining new models of transdemocratic politics.
The Congress of Utopia took place in an installation that reconstructed on a 1:1 scale fragments of the project New Babylon designed by the artist-utopian Constant Nieuwenhuys. As such, the Congress of Utopia did not aim to merely reflect upon the history of utopia, but to “occupy utopia” anew. In the face of the present day global dystopian crisis, utopia was posited as the only realistic alternative.
Congress of Utopia brought together speakers and organizations from the field of art, politics and activism, with contributions by Micha Hamel (composer, writer), Quinsy Gario (artist), Steven ten Thije (curator Van Abbemuseum), Rebecca Gomperts (Women on Waves), Faiza Oulahsen (Greenpeace), Urok Shirhan (artist), Dyab Abou Jahjah (writer), Sven Lütticken (art historian), Jeanne van Heeswijk (artist), Maurice Specht (De Leeszaal), Nourdin El Ouali (NIDA), Merijn Oudenampsen (sociologist), Menno Grootveld (journalist), and Patricia Kaersenhout (artist).
Lara Staal and Jonas Staal
Jonas Staal (artist), Lara Staal (programmer), Paul Kuipers (architect), Younes Bouadi (producer), Ruben Hamelink (film maker), Ernie Buts (photographer)
Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst (AFK), Frascati Theater Amsterdam