September 1, 2004 - Haus der Kunst - Utopia Station, Munich
September 1, 2004

Utopia Station, Munich

Utopia Station, Munich

Haus der Kunst
 80538 Munchen
 Tel. +49 89 21127 158
 Fax +49 89 21127 157

 October 7, 2004 – January 16, 2005 on the road to porto alegre</b><br><b>utopia events
 oct 07-10, 2004
 nov 04-07, 2004
 dec 16-19, 2004
 jan 13-16, 2005


September 1, 2004
“Today the world is too dangerous for anything less than utopia,” Buckminster Fuller once wrote. He could have written it yesterday. Slavoj Zizek did write yesterday when, in his new book on Iraq, he concludes that “the political lesson (or, rather, implication) of this stance of ‘recognizing [Hegel is paraphrasing Martin Luther] the rose of the sublime in the cross of everyday vulgarity’ is not to mystify the existing reality, to paint it with false colors, but quite the contrary: to summon up the strength to translate the sublime ( utopian ) vision into everyday practice- in short, to practice utopia.”

In the speech to the West Point cadets graduating in June 2002, President George Bush unveiled his policy of pre-emptive war by declaring, “America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish.” What is this refusal of utopia, the concept that presumes forward social vision? Utopia is not a dead letter, nor an agreed-upon concept. It remains a source of debate, and for many, a source of inspiration.

Utopia is still the commonly accepted figure for the best of all possible worlds. The idea with a long history and many fixed ideologies has loosened up to become a catalyst: it comes alive when it is made to act, or put in practice. Utopia Station has been designed to act as a way-station, a place to stop, to look, to talk and refresh the route to Utopia.

The activity, the discussions, the performances, the changing experience of Utopia Station are meant to expand real-time, which is to say, to expand history, to move it, to weigh it, and to change it.

This Utopia Station, curated by Molly Nesbit, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rirkrit Tiravanija, follows from several others, some of them gatherings, some of them virtual sites, some of them exhibitions. Over two hundred artists, architects, writers, musicians, and performers are contributing to the definition of Utopia Station, their particular contributions changing as the arc of the project pushes out and curves. The best-known Utopia Station was the first large exhibition organized for the Venice Biennale in 2003.

Before it had closed, the Utopia Station poster project had opened in September 2003 at the Haus der Kunst in Munich: it already was conceived as the prelude to a new Utopia Station designed specifically to occupy the former Ehrenhalle. The new Utopia Station in Munich is composed of a tower and a road. It will become a concrete reality on October 7, 2004, and remain so for three months, until January 16, 2005.
The former Ehrenhalle of the Haus der Kunst has several pasts, the first being the most infamous: it was designed as a speaking platform for Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party. The current administration of the Haus der Kunst has made it a priority to restore the hall, the better to see its past plainly, tabula rasa, and to establish new, even more powerful uses for a space destined to be haunted by its history. The Utopia Station will contribute to their effort to re-program the space by erecting a three-storey tower inside. Best to call it a tower of time.

Time as well as space in the former Ehrenhalle will be re-programmed for utopia, the old politics of fascism turned upside-down and opened. The tower has been constructed from the remains of the long one-storey wooden building used in Venice, now cut and stacked. A staircase will spiral up the outside, which has been papered in statements. The statements were written to accompany the posters conceived while the Iraq war was being debated and waged in the spring of 2003. The walls of the former Ehrenhalle will be covered with the posters themselves.

The tower will hold a cinema and several small exhibition rooms. It will be surrounded by several works brought from Venice, including the Sonic House by Uglycute, the Bilboard Thailand House by Alicia Framis, and the Oleanna pavillion erected by Martha Rosler and her collective. The structural elements for the Munich Station have been worked on by a team of artists, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Liam Gillick, Pierre Huyghe, Philippe Parreno and the design team M/M. They are bound together acoustically by a sound architecture designed by Building Transmissions. It will be joined by sound projects by Christian Boltanski, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, and Steve McQueen. A long video program, including new work by Jonas Mekas, Philippe Parreno, and Yang Fudong, will be on view.

The tower will expand temporally as well as physically: technically this will be made possible by a computerized program of sounds, videos and silence to fill an entire day. It will be joined by a program of lectures, performances and events. That program is called The Road to Porto Alegre.
Porto Alegre is located in Brazil and has been the site for all but one of the annual meetings of the World Social Forum, the global movement of movements mobilizing under the battlecry “Another World is Possible.” Porto Alegre too is a way-station for those en route to utopia. At its next meeting, January 26-31, 2005, Utopia Station will find itself there.

The great questions of politics and practice arise on the road to Porto Alegre and the program of speakers, performances and special events being mounted in Munich is designed to give those questions full discussion. Participants include John Bock, Stefano Boeri, Jay Chung, Olafur Eliasson, Hans Peter Feldmann, Edouard Glissant, Joseph Grigely, Zaha Hadid and Patrick Schumacher, Karl Holmqvist, Enzo Mari, Jonas Mekas, Toni Negri, Anatoli Osmolovski, Martha Rosler, Christoph Schlingensief, Tino Sehgal, Allan Sekula, Andreas Slominski, DJ Spooky, Bruce Sterling, Agnes Varda and Yang Fudong.

The program will run on four separate weekends: October 7-10, November 4-7, December 16-19 and January 13-16. Parts of the program are being co-sponsored and hosted by Akademie der Bildenden Kunste Munchen, Bayerische Rundfunk/ Horspiel und Medienkunst, intermedium, the Bayerische Staatsschauspiel, Buchhandlung Walther Konig, Dance 2004, the Filmmuseum Munchen and the Munchner Kammerspiele. The International Child Art Foundation and Ed Meier seit 1596 have sponsored several vitrines by Enzo Mari for the subway of Odeonsplatz. Funding for The Road to Porto Alegre at Utopia Station has been provided by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, with additional support by BMW group and Institut Francais de Munich.

A full list of the work to be exhibited and the complete schedule of events presented at Utopia Station will be announced later in September.

Funded by Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation) and supported by agnes b., BMW group, Ed Meier seit 1596 and Institut Francais de Munich.

Haus der Kunst
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