Written by Stan Moorcroft, City Living Local Life
Given the history of the last century the search for Utopia has understandably fallen out of fashion. Too many mass graves mark the most recent attempts to build a perfect society. Whilst on a more personal level one person’s Utopia can be another’s dystopia.
Thus it was brave of the InTRANSIT Festival to co-produce An Other World, particularly when in conjunction with the Neo Futurist Collective, Futurism having been so badly tainted by its association with Fascism. The result was a collage of ideas, images, monologues, song and dance flirting with notions of Utopia. What the event lacked in coherence it made up for in moments of considerable beauty, as when Rebecca Evans and David Ogle produced a dance based on the Japanese tradition of Tanabata, in which people write their wishes for the coming year on scraps of paper. Here Rebecca and David performed the realisation of their wishes. Perhaps Eros and peoples conceptions of Utopia are inextricably linked?
Natasha Langridge provided a tour de force with an extract from her performance of Memoirs of a Tree W10, a moment when the event in a comfortable lecture theatre in the V and A connected with, if not the ‘real’ world, whatever that might be, but a harder world.
Impresario, and artistic Director of the Neo Futurist Collective [NFC], Giuseppe Marinetti (AKA Joseph Young), provided a running thread to the proceedings, calling up images and ideas from the early 20th century to the 1960s, taking in Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Bertolt Brecht and Guy Debord, to explore thinking about Utopia. Indeed it is hard not to feel that modernism, a socially-progressive trend of thought that affirms the power of human beings to create, improve and reshape their environment with the aid of Science and technology, has already become a subject of historical curiosity.
Where, outside the NFC, are the modern proponents of a progressive Futurism? I guess that is where, Giuseppe Marinetti would say, the NFC comes in.
The final act was the reading of The People’s Manifesto, part of Revolution #10 a follow on from the Beatles White Album track Revolution 9. A vox populi of ‘ordinary’ peoples wishes for a government. You can read the full manifesto on the website above.
Of course if you ask people what they want, they often want contradictory things, and what you end up with is populist rhetoric as was evinced when the manifesto was read out. Guaranteeing a minimum income for all and ‘living within our means’ may not be mutually compatible. Whilst abolishing all the armed forces at the same time as recognising that, “Our rights are never safe, there is always someone ready to take them away,” would seem foolish.
But there was also much in what people voiced to hearten and indeed inspire. People it seems are not governed solely by greed and self-interest.
The Event provided a door into a concept, Utopia, worth examining. Whilst I for one will also be revisiting Futurism.