Here. Now. Dispatches from Utopia is a continuation of a previous artwork I created in my first visit to Bulgaria in 2011: Utopias In-Progress: Seven Brief Theses on Art, Revolution and Autonomy was a site-specific embodied writing performance, single channel video, installation and participatory art project created and exhibited at The Red House Centre for Art and Debate in Sofia. The piece was created around an essay about the effects of colonialism and globalization on the arts, the history of artistic interventions in these dynamics, and the potentials of art as catalyst of utopian transformations. Over the course of three days, I re-wrote the essay with dry media on a large paper (1.31 x 15 meters), and used a body-mounted camera to record the writing process. The video was then incorporated into an installation that also included the roll of paper.
The Utopias scroll was installed in the gallery and functioned as both a site of interaction and an object of exchange with the audience. Prompted by narratives told intimately by Bulgarian young women participating in the performance Post-Coitus, visitors were invited to write/draw on the paper. At the end of the exhibition, visitors and workers at the Red House were offered to select, cut and take sections of the scroll by entering into a contract with me to share the artwork only non-commercially, meaning without making any profit from the piece of the artwork they took.
Some sections of the scroll from this project – this temporary enactment of a utopian relationship with the art audience – have been kept in my own archives until now. I used this paper, cut to smaller postcard sizes, as the canvas and background of the new iteration in 2019, which included a series of contemplative writing workshops at Goatmilk Festival in Bela Rechka, Bulgaria, and a mailart piece that combined these postcards with pages from a discarded Bulgarian book. The mailart raised funds for an educational project for Roma children in BG and a series of iftar dinners in a Syrian refugee camp in southern Lebanon.
This work can be recreated to respond to a new site.