photography by Vicky RussellOver the past 3 weeks, I have discovered that the more I researched architecture throughout the ages, the more became intrigued by the stories of the architects and the various movements that influenced the structures and spaces in the world, and therefore the more I have come to understand.  ‘Utopia’ is a particular word that I have recently come to know in relation to Art and Architecture, and here I will attempt to share my brief understanding of it and how I can consider the concept when developing my work in this project.

Architecture represents the cultural context of its time. By observing the spaces by which people have lived, studied, prayed and revered, we can learn about the values and ideals that they held. The buildings that were designed for various purposes held in themselves the impulse of Utopia – places and spaces that were desired and manifested to represent the ideals of those who had the vision.

In simple terms I understand the word ‘utopia’ to mean ‘The ideal or desirable’.  The utopian place, object or concept is seemingly ‘better than’ the current reality or norm.   The utopian impulse exists within many aspects of culture, society, politics, and philosophy and indeed also the world of art.  It is a future-orientated concept that physically cannot ever be attained, for there will always be greener grass elsewhere so to speak.  I find it easier to grasp the concept from my own human experience when considering my ideal and preferred way of seeing or being in the world.

Being a hopeless eternal optimist myself, I can dismiss the fact that utopia can never actually be attained yet still carry on in life with the utopian impulse through my thoughts and actions with the hope of an ideal way of being, way of living, or way of relating to others and my experience in this life. A quote that resonates with my own Utopian self is…

The most modern art discipline – social sculpture/social architecture – will only reach fruition when every living person becomes a creator, a sculptor, or architect of the social organism – Joseph Beuys

Certainly, if I believe that I can actually attempt to create the Utopian reality that I so desire, one could call me naive, unrealistic, dreaming or at best, idealistic. By aspiring to make my world a better place,  I continue to always live in a future-orientated reality.  But by accepting that my actual reality is all that I need and want it to be right now in this very moment, I am more likely to experience life in a way that ultimately nourishes and sustains me. I can make choices in my life that are in alignment with my values and conducive to my ideals and therefore make it so.

Furthermore, I will be mindful of how my own understanding of the utopian impulse influences my work in this project.


Goodreads. (2013). Quotes about Utopias. Retrieved June 22, 2103, from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/utopia

Noble, R. (2009). Utopias. London: Whitechapel Gallery; Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.


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