Isola Utopia

Isola Utopia
Fragments and moments for new utopias

Exhibitions, flights, presentations, debates, performances and music,
a project by Isola Art Center,
presented by Creative Olive,
supported by the Comune di San Mauro Cilento, Cooperativa Agricola Nuovo Cilento, Fornace Falcone

5-10 August, 20.00 – 24.00, San Mauro Cilento (Salerno)
Opening 5 August, 20.00

Presentation of the project, 24.7.2014, “Utopia Urbis”, Corte Catalana di Palazzo Pinto, Mercanti street 63, Salerno

Press release - Program from 5 to 10 August 2014 - CreativeOlive 2014

Texts written for Isola Utopia:
Gerald Raunig, UTOPIA IS NOW



Raffaele Aiello, Bad Museum, Zanny Begg, Emanuel Balbinot, Kristina Borg, Emanuele Braga, Sarah Giulia Braun, Antonio Brizioli, Paolo Caffoni, Angelo Castucci, Antonio Cipriani, Francesco Citro, Creative Olive Team, Maddalena Fragnito, Edna Gee, Grupo Etcétera, Heinz-Norbert Jocks, Isabell Lorey, Francesco Lomonaco, Gianfranco Marelli, Valentina Montisci, Philippe Nathan, Denis C. Novello, Mark Uncle Band & Isola Art’s Club Band, Nikolay Oleynikov, Dan Perjovschi, Camilla Pin, Steve Piccolo, Gerald Raunig, Serio Collective (Edith Poirier, Daniele Rossi), Mariette Schiltz, Stefano Taccone, Claudio Tancetti, Bert Theis, Camilla Topuntoli, Nikola Uzunovski, Wei-Ning Yang, Jiang Zhi, Amor Vacui Studio, Laboratorio di Progettazione Ferrara, Ghelostudio Architettura, Project 2.0., the residents of San Mauro Cilento and others...

"Only in us does this light still burn, and we are beginning a fantastic journey toward it, toward the implementation of the central concept of utopia. To find it, to find the right thing, for which it is worthy to live, to be organized, and to have time: that is why we go, why we cut new, metaphysically constitutive paths, summon what is not, build into the blue, and build ourselves into the blue, and there seek the true, the real, where the merely factual disappears - incipit vita nova." - Ernst Bloch, The Spirit of Utopia

Utopia! We searched for her continuously, we never met her, but she has always been close to us. When we occupied a former factory in the Isola neighbourhood in Milan and, together with the gardens, we converted it into a new model for a centre for art, philosophy, music, and other activities and events of the district. When we stood up to unscrupulous real estate developers, cynical politicians, turncoat architects and servile journalists. When together with the children of Isola we sang "Il ragazzo di Via Gluck" ("The Boy of Gluck Street") in front of the politicians of the district council, who had listened to us ... without ever understanding. When one night, together with Christoph, we painted his mural Strategic Embellishment created for the news kiosk of Isola. When we threw the seed bombs over the wire fence of a space that was still closed to the neighbourhood ... a space we wanted to open with the name of Isola Pepe Verde. When together with Macao we vacated the Galfa Tower in Milan and there we hung the banner ... "One could even imagine flying". When we tried to raise horizons with Nikola's solar cloud. Until, while flying to San Mauro Cilento in an orange bee-car, we finally met Utopia in one of our daydreams, and she told us:

"Devour the past utopias and your wishes will start to fly! It's true, all the old utopias have failed, or even worse, they have turned into dystopias. It's true; neoliberalism has imposed itself on a global level. It's true; the ‘gap’ between the rich and the poor has never been so wide as it is today. It's true that for many, nowadays, the only possible form of social and economic organisation seems to be the capitalist model, and they are totally reduced to trying to improve only little details, so as to lessen the possible harm. These fools believe that there is no alternative to a society based on the exploitation of nature, human beings and their creativity. They think art can only exist as a commoditised luxury set aside for the very rich.
What a lack of fantasy, what a lack of logical thinking!
For years the movements against specific, individual aspects of capitalism have become more and more widespread: against the closure of factories, companies and hospitals, against cultural and job insecurity, against the destruction of the welfare state, against austerity policies, against the privatization of the public sector, against financial policies favouring banks and multinational corporations, against urban planning that devastates urban and rural areas, against property speculation and against gentrification, against the progressive restriction of democratic rights and individual freedoms, against discrimination and violence against women, against war and injustice... To all this and more, you said 'No!', but it is now the time to get back to thinking about the 'Yes!'. The time of concrete utopias and fulfilling your desires has returned."
This is what Utopia said.

We looked at each other, and without hesitation we decided to dedicate our research project to Her. In fact, we have called it "Isola Utopia". A collective production which includes exhibitions and performances involving artists, students, residents, architects, curators, theorists, musicians, journalists and others, who will be all collecting and producing moments of thought and artworks for new, possible utopias.

In San Mauro Cilento, from 5 to 10 August, we present, through an exhibition “on the road”, the first results of the workshops cross-initiated this summer. Every evening conferences, debates and presentations will take place outdoors, to further explore different aspects of the concept of utopia and some of its concrete achievements. The days will conclude with the musical workshop in the town square, featuring the Isola Arts Club Band.

The project "Isola Utopia" started in San Mauro Cilento will be presented and developed at the Vienna Secession, Austria (24.9-30.9.2014), at the Survival Kit-Utopian City Festival in Riga, Latvia (4.9–28.9.2014), and in 2015 in Isola, the neighbourhood in Milan, as well as other places. / tel: 0039 339 6057 111 / facebook Isola Art Center


Isola Utopia

Program 5–10 August 2014

Tuesday 5 August: Isola Utopia

11.00-13.00 Flight of the Isola Sun Cloud at Piazza Notar Petillo
19.00-24.00 Opening of the exhibition
20.00, 21.00, 22.00 Guided tours departing from the school, via Provinciale 14, Casalsottano
21.00 Printing 4 Utopia, Screen printing workshop with Serio Collective (Edith Poirier, Daniele Rossi)
22.30 Musical workshop with Isola Art’s Club Band and local musicians, Piazza Europa

Wednesday 6 August: Desperately seeking Utopia

11.00-13.00 Flight of the Isola Sun Cloud at Piazza Notar Petillo
19.00-24.00 The exhibition is open to the public
20.00 Guided tours departing from school, via Provinciale 14, Casalsottano
21.30 Desperately seeking Utopia, Piazza Europa
Open debate with Emanuele Braga (choreographer and activist, Milan), Angelo Castucci (architect and artivist, Milan), Antonio Cipriani (journalist Globalist, Milan), Heinz-Norbert Jocks (art critic Kunstforum, Düsseldorf) Philippe Nathan (architect and curator, Luxembourg), Camilla Pin (activist and curator, Milan) Mariette Schiltz (artivist, Milan), Bert Theis (artivist, Milan). Live sketches by Maddalena Fragnito (artivist, Milan) and contributions by: Edna Gee (artivist, Johannesbourg), Isabell Lorey (political theorist, Berlin), Gerald Raunig (philosopher, Vienna)
23.00 Musical workshop with Isola Art’s Club Band and local musicians, Piazza Europa

Thursday 7 August: Isola is not a utopia, and utopia is not an island

11.00-13.00 Flight of the Isola Sun Cloud at Piazza Notar Petillo
19.00-24.00 The exhibition is open to the public
20.00 Guided tours departing from school, via Provinciale 14, Casalsottano
21.30 Book presentation Fight Specific Isola, Piazza Europa
With the authors Antonio Brizioli, Paolo Caffoni, Steve Piccolo. Presentation of the film Damnatio Memoriae (about gentrification process in Milano and Oslo) by Camilla Topuntoli and of the videoclip Culture don’t grow on trees with Emanuel Balbinot
23.00 Musical workshop with Isola Art’s Club Band and local musicians, Piazza Europa

Friday 8 August: Building into the blue

11.00-13.00 Flight of the Isola Sun Cloud at Piazza Notar Petillo
19.00-24.00 The exhibition is open to the public
20.00 Guided tours departing from school, via Provinciale 14, Casalsottano
20.00 Printing 4 Utopia, Screen printing workshop with Serio Collective (Edith Poirier, Daniele Rossi)
21.30 Building into the blue – Utopias of flying, Piazza Europa. Meeting with Bert Theis and Nikola Uzunovski, with the contribution of Engineer Claudio Tancetti, inventor of the flying Ape (small Italian three-wheel delivery car)
23.00 Musical workshop with Isola Art’s Club Band and local musicians, Piazza Europa

Saturday 9 August: Going beyond the Situationism

11.00-13.00 Flight of the Isola Sun Cloud at Piazza Notar Petillo
19.00-24.00 The exhibition is open to the public
20.00 Guided tours departing from school, via Provinciale 14, Casalsottano
20.00 Printing 4 Utopia, Screen printing workshop with Serio Collective (Edith Poirier, Daniele Rossi)
21.30 Ben oltre l’amara vittoria del situazionismo, che fare? - Vicolo 30, via Cappella 30. Debate with Gianfranco Marelli, Stefano Taccone, Bert Theis and the public
23.00 Concert with the Isola Art’s Club Band workshop and local musicians, Piazza Europa

Sunday 10 August: Concrete Utopias

11.00-13.00 Flight of the Isola Sun Cloud at Piazza Notar Petillo
19.00 Guided tours departing from school, via Provinciale 14, Casalsottano
20.00-24.00 The exhibition is open to the public
20.00 Printing 4 Utopia, Screen printing workshop with Serio Collective (Edith Poirier, Daniele Rossi)
21.30 Concrete Utopias – Architecture and Utopia, Piazza Europa. Meeting with Kristina Borg (artivist, Malta), Valentina Montisci (journalist Globalist, Milan), Philippe Nathan (architect and curator, Luxembourg), Amor Vacui Studio, Ghelostudio Architettura, Project 2.0. (Salerno), Lorenzo degli Esposti (AUFO, Milan)
23.00 Music with Isola Art’s Club Band and local musicians, Piazza Europa



Utopia, in Greek ou topos is usually seen as no where, at no place
Imagined as an Island, a place separated from society, a very specific space, or a space somewhere outer space, a place that is not yet, or even a fictional space.

Now if I am looking for the invention of a revolutionary utopia, I am not referring to such a non-place, outer space, fictional space
So if is not an ou topos, a non-place, what about a hetero-topia, another place, a different space? You might have heard about Foucault’s ideas about heterotopoi, at one point he even wanted to write a whole heterotopology.

But I think there is a reason that Foucault stopped this thinking about heterotopoi, because it remained too much on the metaphorical side, too easily appropriated by a naïve romanticism in view of marginal, ephemeral or even exotic places. So Foucault soon stopped his considerations about heterotopologies in the late 1960s. and it took nearly 30 years, until in 1997 Catherine David and her editorial team included Foucault’s text on heterotopoi in their huge documenta X catalogue, the silver brick, if you came across it.

Since then Foucault’s marginal text is a must for every ba-art-student, and in fact I am also using it in my courses, albeit as a bad example of appropriation of theory by and in the art field.
But lets stick for a moment to the idea of the other space as alternative to the non-place of utopia. More than 200 years before Foucault, Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten established the term hetero-cosmos, the other world.

In 1750 Baumgarten published the first part of his Aesthetica and thus founded the philosophical discipline of aesthetics. In the first sentence, Baumgarten already describes aesthetics as ars pulcre cogitandi, an art of thinking beautifully. So from the start, aesthetics has not been solely a matter of the theory of sensuous cognition and the philosophical classification of the perception of the beautiful, but also of the problem of a different way of thinking. The “art of thinking beautifully” is not simply aestheticism, a mannerism of the philosopher, nor how one thinks and talks about beauty. Rather it is a technique, a skill, an art to think beautifully, in the sense that it is a completely different manner of thinking. And this different mode of thinking goes together with thinking a different world.
As the introduction of a new concept, the concept of heterocosmos is found across broad sections of Baumgarten’s reflections on questions of aesthetic truth and falseness, of aesthetic probability and poetic fictions: heterocosmos, the “different world”, as “a reality created in addition to the actual world”.

Instead of being described as a hereafter, something beyond, like paradise, in Baumgarten’s aesthetic theory the heterocosmos becomes a cypher for the assertion that another world is not only possible, but is already created in the here and now. Heterocosmoses are not simply otherworldly, artistic representations, in contrast to a “real world”; the aesthetic truth of the heterocosmos is an immanent truth in its own right, which is only limited by the question of poetic responsibility: as long as the other world and its components are created as a coherent assemblage in terms of both content and form, they are entitled to exist alongside the “real world”.

Beyond this, however, it is primarily the constant movement, which exists between this world and the other world, that predominates in Baumgarten’s reflections on the admissibility of artistic inventions. For this reason, within the framework of his explanations of poetic striving for truth, he discusses the back-and-forth between dream and reality, between aestheticological truth and truth in the narrower sense, between heterocosmos and real world. Here Baumgarten especially emphasizes the shock we experience when we are confronted – once we have stepped into the heterocosmic sphere – with something that is strictly true (from this, the real world). It is here that the possibility of the juxtaposition of multiple worlds becomes clear, how we are torn between them, but also that these multiple worlds are interconnected.

Again, I am not referring to a place that is not, or to a place that is not yet, to an ou-topos. I want to relate to very concrete places here and now, situated places, a topos which also has its specific now-time, its now and here.

This is nothing new, you might have heard of the play with words in English

outopos, NO-WHERE can also be spelled as NOW_HERE.

From No-where to Now and here. But what does this NOW_HERE mean, and especially this NOW_TIME in now and here? So lets move from the aspects of space to the implications of time.

It means: U-topia is now. Now now-time is not a very pleasant space of time, at least it is quite ambivalent. It is the terrain of a temporality that machinically takes us into service, takes our times into service, as a continuos dystopia. In the midst of the production of machinic capitalism machinic modes of subjectivation arise that increasingly have the effect of subservience: compliant subjects of self-government ready to an extreme degree to striate and smooth themselves and their times, to adapt, to subject, to subjugate themselves. Getting through life as comfortably as possible is the highest aim of this form of living. And it is the same compliant subjects who join the machinic assemblage through their compliancy, placing machinic subservience next to social subjugation.

At the same time u-topia as now-time prompts us to think non-subservience in a new and machinic way. Machinic non-subservience, non-compliance, a wild monstrosity against subservience does not emerge as a heroic break with a full space, with limited shapes and beautiful form, but rather as a lasting, repeated and recurrent breach in the overabundance of measured and immeasurable time. Questa e la questione della disobbedienza in capitalismo macchinico.

Walter Benjamin, theses on the history of philosophy

Now-time is not the solemn declaration that something has passed and something new, unknown begins as a creatio ex nihilo, in a clean separation between the past and the future, but rather exactly the expansion of the present in the in-between of this linear notion of time. The Benjaminian now-time loads the past, it charges the past, it fulfills the writing of its history, its stories.

So this connection of history and an expanded present is not purely a history of philosophy problem – or rather, it was never purely a history of philosophy problem. It is not only the subsumption of the sublime event into the course of history forced into linearity that must be broken open with giant leaps or tiger’s leaps into the past. It is the break in and of now-time of machinic capitalism, its modulation and putting in to service, its measuring and immeasurableness. The Now, however, is a giant leap in one place, which establishes the urgency of the re-invention of now-time specifically in its own terrain, the terrain of the expanded present. The present becoming as devenir, as opposed to avenir, to a time to come, to future. This new giant leap, this tiger’s leap is not intended to explode the continuum of history, but rather the machinic present, the expanded now-time, in order to newly and repeatedly detonate the “splinters of messianic time”.

Exactly the terrain of the immeasurable present, the now-time, is the place in which subservience can be transformed into non-subservience with the same machinic weapons. The existential territory of this transformation is the now-time, its pure means is the molecular strike: not a holiday strike that merely modifies the conditions of subjugation and subservience, not a strike leading from one state to another, from one legal order to another, from one subjugation to another. The molecular strike is a strike that permeates the molecules of machinic sociality, the pores of everyday life, and it interrupts, overthrows, reverses the utopian now-time of machinic capitalism. No longer acting in such a way, no longer being governed in such a way, ceasing subservient action, halting subservient deterritorialization, at the same time beginning a new, no longer subservient reterritorialization of our smooth time.

The molecular strike is a pure means. It is not a means to the end of achieving certain demands, but rather a means beyond any demands, goals, purposes. The molecular strike addresses neither the agents of economic machines nor the administrators of state apparatuses. It does not apply a means to an end, such as the end of only modifying temporal or spatial arrangements. As medium, a pure means and a rampant middle, the molecular strike is not about the line from a bad past to a promising future, from dystopia to utopia, but rather about a completely different way of counting time and grasping space, a completely different way of living in present becoming – “an upheaval that this kind of strike not only occasions, but indeed carries out.” It is not after a major event, after a sublime moment, after a unique break that the change of working and living conditions comes. This molecular strike already is the change, the constituent power, the breach; it carries out the break, rather than just occasioning it.

The molecular strike is not legislative, but is instead, at the same time, destituent, instituent, and constituent. It decomposes the existing order of time and space, posits manifold beginnings, and creates new industrious compositions. Even though in recent years social movements and micropolitical practices seem to center around the space of occupation, of working and living, their practice is, at the same time, a precarious practice of experimenting with economies of time, to this extent also the formation of the molecular strike. This strike does not result in a heroic gaining of space, but because as it is carried out in the terrain of now-time and subservience in machinic capitalism, it is the immanent place and space of a molecular revolution, where new experiences of temporality emerge, monstrous modes of subjectivation of non-compliance, of non-subservience, of an ou topos, a utopia, a heterotopos, a heterocosmos in the here and now.

Gerald Raunig
Written for Isola Utopia
San Mauro Cilento, August 2014


The expanded present

The tense of utopia seems to be the future. But in European modernity the future is the telos of a three-way temporal scheme of past, present and future. The story of the winners is narrated in this linear arrangement criticized by Benjamin in his historical-philosophical theses. In this linear history future means progress, white civilization and the capitalization of the convivial. The present matters only as a punctual reassurance of this transition to the future. It is not appreciated and still discredited in the Hegelian tradition as "authentic" "immediacy".

The utopia that breaks with this space-time logic of domination defends the present, with the goal of resisting. Utopia does not settle in an elsewhere. It reveals its force in the now, in order to together find the strength for a constituent process that transforms the society. Utopia can become an exodus, to expand the present, in a becoming without future. The expanded present is without future, but not without a past. This futureless relationship between an expanded present and the past is discontinuous, a Tiger’s Leap. The Tiger’s Leap wrests shards shivers from the past, unfulfilled, failed and successful revolutionary practices, composes them in the present with new struggles, to invent again and again constituent powers, new and better forms of conviviality.

Isabell Lorey
Written for Isola Utopia
end of July 2014, San Mauro Cilento
Translation: Steve Piccolo


The Red Thread / Concrete Utopia

I wish that San Mauro Cilento would be remembered in time like Cosio d'Arroscia as a place where, in the innovative spirit of pre-figurative art, was born and continued a society in search of a possible and necessary equilibrium between the present reality and the imagination of a future reality. In short, places where there was experimentation and diffusion of the practice of a concrete utopia. Because the last avant-garde art of the last century, the International Situationists was formed in July 1957 in the pleasant town of the Imperia hinterland, and in August of 2014 on the Cilento hills next to a clear blue sea, artists, philosophers, sociologists, and a large part of the community of San Mauro Cilento, continuing on the interrupted path of the Situationists, started the experiment of Isola Utopia: the space freed by creativity to live moments of intense emotion thanks to a future already present.

It is difficult to express it in another way, especially if one has lived the concrete utopia that has no authorised heirs to theorise about it. There are only artists, that is to say all those who have not given up to imagine a reality that starts from their own desires - collectively ready to give / give oneself emotions of the practice of freedom that everyone can realize in the present, so that the revolution of individually experimented art can be transformed into an art of the revolution through a collective project, shared for its open issues [ the logo "Isola Utopia" attests with its font that refer to an innovative Sabir language], its imaginative curiosity, its utopian hopes.

Those who were in San Mauro Cilento between 5 and 10 August 2014, who built / followed the Red Thread that embraced the whole community of the town, representing a link between the town, the inhabitants and passers-by , could not avoid to participate in the creation of a concrete utopia. One was gathered in the works / installations / events / conferences that have made one’s heart beat for another idea of happiness; a happiness that cannot be bought. You give it away.

Gianfranco Marelli
written for Isola Utopia
San Mauro Cilento, July 2014
Translated by Edna Gee
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