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COMING SOON: Real Imaginary Futures

24 May – 2 August 2014
On May 24 at 5 pm, Bureau Europa opened the exhibition COMING SOON. With landscape as a metaphor, the exhibition asks what lies at the heart of our contemporary utopias. From inspiration in the past and urgencies of the present, to projections of possible futures, the needs and virtues of our time (ecology, economy, social cohesion and technology) are extrapolated and implicitly worked into the exhibition and its parallel program.

Participants in COMING SOON are: 

Tomás Saraceno, Ruben Pater, Atelier Van Lieshout, Studio Smack, Studio Swine, Alicia Framis, Sandro Setola, Rachel Sussman, Samah Hijawi, MAP Architects, Julijonas Urbonas, Studio Makkink & Bey, Enzo Mari, Imme van der Haak, Theo Jansen, Arne Hendriks, DUS Architects, TD Architects, Kyra van Ineveld, N55, Anthony Lau, Nelly Ben Hayoun, WHIM Architecten, Emre Hüner, The Why Factory, Bitcaves, Dingeman Deijs, Martina Petrelli, R&Sie(n), Urban-Think Tank, El-Ab Architects, Maarten Vanden Eynde,  David Benqué, Mathias Schweizer, HY Architects, OFL Architects, Ben Landau, Bas van Beek, Bureau d’Etudes, Arjen de Leeuw,  Rob Voerman, Fairphone, Point Supreme Architects, MVRDV, Constant Dullaart, Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács, Femke Herregraven, Metahaven, Jonas Staal, Dirk Vander Kooij, STEALTH. unlimited i.c.w. Kristian Lukić & Emil Jurcan, CLOUDS Architecture, Guy Ben Ner, Markus Kayser, Space Caviar, The Lowline,  Evert Ypma, Elegant Embellishments, Pieter Stoutjesdijk, Dogma, PAL-V Europe & Spark, Fredrik Härén, Owen Wells, Advanced Tactics, Pierre Bismuth, Studio Orta, Helmut Smits, Life Straw, Anne Holtrop, the Why Factory, Marta Volkova & Slava Shevelenko, One Architecture, Magnus Larsson, The Seasteading Institute, Stewart Brand.

Expressions of longing for another place, of a dream landscape, the ideal city or an alternatively organised society go far back in time. Some 500 years ago, in his 1516 publication, Utopia, Thomas Moore described a traveller's quest on his way to a safe haven: an imaginary island isolated from the rest of the world, where one can live in an unusual reality. Such searches for an alternative are one of the prominent features of utopian narratives.

COMING SOON is an exhibition about this desire for an imaginary reality: an eclectic overview of utopian efforts, stories, and practices through the history of mankind. An extensive archive of illustrative examples, particularly from Western cultural and visual history, provides the basis for a genealogy of utopian images and ideas. In addition to this historical overview, a cinematic "Docutopia" is developed. After literature, film is considered to be the medium of choice for imagining other worlds. The spatial works in the exhibition are contemporary projections of the near future, and are more than mere representations of escapist fantasy worlds. They claim the right to exist through other ways of thinking about the structure of the world around us, and kick-starting our imaginations. The selected works are evocative and positioned between fact and fiction. COMING SOON examines the critical potential of this imaginary space (or spaces) between reality and utopian projection. The promise of change, improvement, and imagination lies at the heart of every design and is a crucial part within design disciplines.

With landscape as a metaphor, the exhibition asks what lies at the heart of our contemporary utopias? From inspiration in the past and urgencies of the present, to projections of possible futures, the needs and virtues of our time (ecology, economy, social cohesion and technology) are extrapolated and implicitly worked into the exhibition and its parallel program. It is also recognised that, despite good intentions, most utopias lead to failure. This is possibly a good thing, since it is the utopian impulse – the quest itself – that has the greatest value.

COMING SOON also examines the format of collective knowledge production as partnerships by bringing together the unusual amount of 7 different curators: Lukas Feireiss, Lara Schrijver, Institute of Relevant Studies (Giovanni Innella en Agata Jaworska), Piet Vollaard, Roosje Klap, and Saskia van Stein. This group is brought together as an experiment, and from proven knowledge and affinity with the subject, albeit from different disciplines and specialties.

In the parallel program, events are organised in conjunction with other educational, cultural or private partners. This discursive parallel program is jointly developed with (design) professionals, students, and the wider interested public. In this section, the larger urban and social issues of the future are highlighted.

The future is coming; you can wait for it!

Extended Studio 02.06 to 06.07.2014 and Public Program

During the entire month of June, twelve third year students of the Fine Arts department Maastricht Academy Fine Art & Design have moved their studio to Bureau Europa.  This temporary, joint studio will be the starting point for the research workshop 'Extended Studio'. The content of this workshop has common grounds with the current exhibition ‘Coming Soon', but also with “Kinderkönigsreich” by Pawel Althamer in Ludwig Forum Aachen.

The studio as a romantic notion seems outdated. But which utopic, artistic, physical, mental or educational space does ‘studio’ represent this day and age? One hundred and sixty years after Gustave Courbet showed the painting ‘L’Atelier du Peintre’ in the improvised ‘pavillon du réalisme’, the changing notion of ‘the studio’ in relation to the dynamics of the urban environment and the social discourse are the central theme of this workshop.  With this theme, the workshop fits in with the theme of the exhibition Coming Soon about the imaginary in relation to system changes. The surrounding area, Sphinxpark/Belvédère, will serve as a case study. 

Several students, teachers and guests will contribute to the workshop.  

Erik de Jong (teacher) gave a lecture on Tuesday June 10 at 12:00 about the studio as a ‘non’-place.  Ruth Benschop (lecturer Autonomy & The Public Sphere in the Arts) lectured on Thursday June 12 at 10:00 about rats and Michel Foucault.

On Tuesday June 17 at 15:30, Lene ter Haar, curator and founder of B32 in Maastricht, will lecture on 'Urban Avantgardism'.

The public program of COMING SOON consists of the following lectures and events:

On Tuesday June 17 (20:00 – 22:00), Jan Masschelein, professor of Socio-Cultural Pedagogics at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, will lecture (in Dutch) about the future of education, about what learning really is and how art and learning  could possibly be involved with each other.  

The future of our cities. On Tuesday June 24, 20:00 – 22:00, The Why Factory (Ulf Hackauf) and Future Studies (Caro van de Venne) will lecture (in Dutch) with a short introduction by Stichting Toekomstbeeld der Techniek about the issues we will face in the Netherlands anno 2050.

On Wednesday July 2, 20:00-22:00, there will be a discussion night (in English) with various contributions about the place of the utopian in contemporary culture. This evening is a collaboration betweenBureau Europa and Van Eyck Academie. Based on a series of short presentations by culture philosopher Timoteus Vermeulen (co-founder of Notes of metamodernism) and artist Melanie Bonajo and Ilse van Rijn (Van Eyck Academy) various positions and the role of the imaginary are investigated.  

On Tuesday July 8, 20:00 – 22:00, Deane Simpson will lecture (in English) on Gerontopia: Retirement Utopias of the Young Old. Deane Simpson is an architect, educator and researcher teaching at the Royal Danish Academy of Arts School of Architecture, Copenhagen and at BAS, Bergen where he is a professor of architecture and urbanism. His research addresses contemporary urban and architectural phenomena, with a focus on socio-spatial transformations at the intersection of demographic change and processes of modernization, globalization and neo-liberalism.

On Tuesday, July 22, 20:00 – 22: 00, philosopher Hans Achterhuis will lecture (in Dutch) about the utopia of the free market. In 2010, Hans Achterhuis was proclaimed ‘Thinker of the Fatherland’ by a.o. newspaper Trouw and Philosophy Magazine.  After this lecture, artist and musician Hidde van Schie will play several tracks from his upcoming CD Offshore.

COMING SOON: Real Imaginary Futures

Opening on May 24th

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