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Category Archives: New Utopia
Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:40 am
Courtesy of Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images
Ithacas formidable history of activist theatre counters Trumpism with its own brand of resistance protest cabaret. Not My President, happening February 20th all over the country, is an international event hosted by the activist collective Bad and Nasty. Ithacas own cabaret rendition will play at the Kitchen Theatre Sunday at 6:30PM.
Co-producers Sara Warner in the Performing and Media Arts department and Ross Haarstad of Theater Incognita found space at the Kitchen Theatre and outreach progressed from there. Warner recounts, performers from Civic Ensemble, The Cherry Arts, Ithaca College, and Cornell immediately signed on, leading to a quirky but refreshing line-up of artists and academics.
The quantity and diversity of performers displayed on their Facebook event page signals a night of theatre that deliberately renounces conventional theatre norms. Radical inclusivity is a crucial component of this national initiative, which the production embraces as artists from across Ithacas often-disparate academic institutions and community organizations will collaborate. The tapestry of partners generates a performance list that is sure to represent a hodgepodge of resistance tactics and invent some new ones. The loose structure of the event is intended to amplify the variety and multitude of voices and forms and modes of expression that are rising up in response to the election, claims Lois Weaver, a trailblazer in the feminist theatre world and national organizer of the event.
The most vocal motive driving Not My President is embodied in the cut the bullshit disposition of Jayme Kilburn grad, a Cornell theatre graduate student: I am just plain fucking pissed off about this administration and need an outlet for my rage. Nourishing these vibes, Kilburn will be performing excerpts from SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men). Prof. Rebekah Maggor, a new theatre professor at Cornell, woke up in Jerusalem the day of the election alongside a group of Palestinian theatre artists. She will share her experience with a performance piece entitled The View From Tahrir, about the Egyptian play Comedy of Sorrow, which questions how we react the day after a dictator falls. Godfrey L Simmons Jr. will perform Obamas famous speech on racial tensions, known as A More Perfect Union. Decontextualizing the moment, it becomes shockingly re-purposed as a critique of Trump era racism.
As energy and anxiety rapidly stockpile across the country, the performance event will provide a space to grieve and have fun at the same time, as well as invent and create with our bodies and minds. Maggor explains that When were in a situation where we are constantly putting out fires, we also have to find a space to devise alternatives. Performance space, and art in general, play a role in imagining an alternative future. Can we use performance space to invent a new what-if utopia in a political climate that toes a wobbly line between social stasis and political revolution? Not My Presidents diverse artists will take a jab this Sunday.
Sam Morrison is a senior in the College of Arts &Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com
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Posted: at 4:40 am
In February one of Moscow’s most celebrated theaters marks 90 years of bringing some of the finest works to the stage. Lenkoms performances are almost always sold out, and it was here that the world-famous rock opera, Juno and Avos, was first staged.
Besides Soviet authors, Lenkom staged Ibsen, Tolstoy, Dickens and Rostand, which communist officials were not particularly happy about. Photo: Mark Zakharov, 1987. Source: Andrey Soloviev/TASS
The Theater for the Working Youth was established in the USSR in 1927, riding the wave of leftist ideas and universal access to art. In the evenings after work, young men and women could stage plays here. This was a socialist utopia, which soon ended. The theater then became professional and received a new name: Lenin’s Komsomol Theatre (Komsomol was the Communist Youth Organization), or Lenkom for short.
Lenkom was supposed to stage contemporary plays that accorded with Soviet propaganda, but the theater tried to step out of ideological boundaries. Besides Soviet authors, it staged Ibsen, Tolstoy, Dickens and Rostand, which communist officials were not particularly happy about.
The young theater director, Anatoly Efros, came to Lenkom in 1963 and raised particular concern among authorities. His poetical, frank and profound direction stood out from Soviet clichs, and clashed with the socialist realist mold, and so in 1967 he was dismissed. However, he went on to even greater success, in another Moscow theater – Malaya Bronnaya. Efros productions are now classics of Russian art. After Efros’ departure, Lenkom went through a period of decline.
A new golden era began with the arrival of director Mark Zakharov. In 1974 he stagedTill, a rollicking musical comedy about the Middle Ages and the Inquisition, but which really meant about something else. The audience understood the Aesopian language it used.
Soviet censorship did not at first understand his pungent and subtle play, initially not picking up on the obvious allusions to the country’s horrid state of affairs. After the premiere, however, officials were shocked and wanted to shut down the production and fire the director, but it was too late. The news of the brazen play had spread throughout Moscow, and the lead actor, Nikolai Karachentsov, woke up famous the following morning.
Two years laterthe theater stagedThe Star and Death of Joaquin Murrieta, one of the first rock operas in the USSR. Even though it was based on a work by Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet and communist, the Soviet authorities didnt like the plays format. They thought the genre of a rock opera was strange and dangerous.
At this time, Andrew Lloyd Webber’sJesus Christ Superstarwas rocking the world, and Zakharov and composer Alexei Rybnikov clearly drew inspiration from it. The sympho-rock music and half-naked girls of The Star and Death of Joaquin Murrieta shocked Soviet censors. The production was banned but nevertheless the premiere took place, having the impact of a bomb going off. The first viewers thought, “That’s it. Now they’re going to arrest us all.”
Soviet actor Nikolai Karachentsov (L) as Till Eulenspiegel and actress Inna Churikova as Nele perform in the play Till based on Belgian playwright Charles de Coster’s 1867 novel and staged by Mark Zakharov at the Lenkom Theatre in 1983. Source: Yuri Lizunov/TASS
World fame came with Rybnikov’s next rock opera, Juno and Avos, based on poems by Andrei Voznesensky, and which premiered in 1981. The sad love story between a Russian count and a young Spanish lady in California touched the hearts of people from various countries. Fashion designer Pierre Cardin fell in love with the play and brought it to Paris and then New York, where the theater had to remain for two months, so great was its success.
Zakharov remembers that, “Pierre Cardin did a courageous thing. He had received threats over the phone, letters saying that he should not get involved with Russians! But he wasn’t afraid. I thought that going on tour in Paris was utopic. The play was considered anti-Soviet, shaking our moral and artistic foundations. We were allowed to stage it no more than once a month and in no way during communist party holidays.”
The play toured half the globe, had more than 1,000 performances, and is still being staged. It became the theater’s calling card, with its snappy, vivid, and audacious style.
World fame came with Rybnikov’s next rock opera, Juno and Avos, based on poems by Andrei Voznesensky, and which premiered in 1981. Photo: Yelena Shanina as Konchita and Nikolai Karachentsov as Count Rezanov in Alexei Rybnikov’s rock opera “Juno and Avos”, Lenkom Theater. Source: Rybchinskiy/RIA Novosti
Zakharov was able to assemble an incredible troupe of stage and film stars – Alexander Abdulov, Oleg Yankovsky, Inna Churikova, and others. It was often impossible to get a ticket to Lenkoms plays.
In the early 1990s, the theater officially changed its name to Lenkom, as it had long been informally known among the public. The name of Lenkom sounded like an expensive cosmetics brand, which suited the theater very well. While the Taganka Theater was an open political party, and the Sovremennik Theater impressed audiences with its honest depiction of modernity, Lenkom enticed with the lights of Broadway, promising a show and a celebration.
In recent years the theater has suffered many losses, especially as many stars passed away, but Zakharov is still at the helm. He sometimes invites one of Russia’s most radical young directors, Konstantin Bogomolov, and occasionally he himself stagesThe Day of the Oprichnik, based on the novel by Vladimir Sorokin. This modern-day masterpiece describes a dystopia that is a veiled criticism of today’s political establishment. Once again Lenkom is pushing the boundaries of what is possible and causing a stir.
In recent years the theater has suffered many losses, especially as many stars passed away, but Zakharov is still at the helm. Source: Sergei Fadeichev/TASS
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Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:43 am
HANOVER Dartmouth Department of Theatre serves up a send-up of greed, political movements, love and musicals in a future where water is worth its weight in gold.
A 25-member cast will sing, dance, pun and romance its way through its production of the Tony Award-winning Urinetown Friday through Feb. 26 in The Moore Theater of the Hopkins Center for the Arts.
The story of a drought-crazed dystopia in which a malevolent company profits from one of humanitys basic needs began in the mind of actor/playwright Greg Kotis when, in the mid-1990s, he took an ill-financed trip to Paris during which the citys pay-per-use toilets were a strain on his meager means.
Back in the States, he shared an idea for a new show with theater friend Mark Hollmann. Deciding to self-produce a production, they got the show accepted to the New York Fringe Festival in 1999.
From the standing ovation opening night, the show became a runaway hit, its popularity moving it first to Off-Broadway, where it won an Obie, and then to almost 1,000 shows on Broadway and multiple Tony wins.
The story centers on a longterm drought, and heartless corporate control of dwindling water resources mean common citizens must pay increasingly steep fees to relieve themselves in sanctioned facilities.
Along the way, the characters make witty, self-aware commentary on the conventions of musical theater and hilariously skewer the genre with numbers reminiscent of Les Miserables, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof and Threepenny Opera.
Director Jamie Horton, a Dartmouth theater professor and actor, likes how the satirical treatment still manages to deal with substantial issues. Its unabashedly entertaining but also profound.
That opposition is what makes it the kind of work it is, he said.
In program notes, he elaborated: I have loved this musical since I first saw it in 2003, because of the boldness of the questions it asks, certainly, but even more so because of the brilliance of its form its wit, its sense of humor about itself, its biting, entirely modern, no-holds-barred approach.
In addition to a production team of faculty and visiting theater artists, Dartmouth senior Julie Solomon is serving as associate scenic designer.
In conjunction with Dartmouths staging of the show, a panel discussion titled Our Dystopian Moment: 2017 and the Politics of Urinetown will take place at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21.
Shows are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. It then continues at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 23-25, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26.
Tickets are $15, with a $5 discount for youth.
For information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 646-2422.
Posted: at 1:43 am
Remember that time when Ronnie Wood released a solo album, put together a band to promote it that included Keith Richards and fusion bassist Stanley Clarke, and played a bunch of arena shows centered not around Richards but perversely Wood and his songs?
Unless you’re the most diehard of Rolling Stones fans, you probably have zero memory of that moment. But Rob Chapman’s new book, New Barbarians: Outlaws, Gunslingers and Guitars (Voyageur Press), finally tells the story of one of the most oddball and least-chronicled moments in the Stones’ history.
As Chapman details in his art-crammed book, Wood and his new label, Columbia, decided he should play some shows to promote his 1979 solo album, Gimme Some Neck. Richards, who was in between Stones sessions, signed on to his bandmate’s ad-hoc group. Richards was also eager to hit the road, because, as Chapman writes, he was “on the run from heroin, [girlfriend] Anita Pallenberg and endless psychotherapy sessions” after his 1977 drug bust in Canada. The band, a truly odd lot of musicians, included two naturals, Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan and on-again, off-again Stones saxman Bobby Keys, along with two others Clarke and Meters drummer Ziggy Modeliste who had barely played rock & roll before.
For a brief moment, Chapman reports, Neil Young almost joined the lineup after stopping into early rehearsals for the tour. He eventually opted out due to the birth of one of his children and the editing chores involved in his then-upcoming concert movie, Rust Never Sleeps. But after Young remarked “you guys are nothing but a bunch of barbarians,” the ad-hoc band at least had its name, adding a “New” after learning there was another band called the Barbarians. Ringo Starr and Boz Scaggs also stopped by rehearsals but, like Young, didn’t join up.
Over the course of its month-long tour, ending with shows at England’s Knebworth Festival on a bill with Led Zeppelin, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and Todd Rundgren and Utopia, the New Barbarians crammed in a lifetime of rock & roll. Drugs, booze and private jets were a daily treat; a small room was built near the back of the stage so the band could get high without the audience noticing. When Clarke offered Richards a health shake, Richards just replied, ruefully, “Stanley, Stanley.”
As Chapman reports, drama was also part of the recipe. Unsure if Wood’s name would sell out arenas, some on their business side began suggesting to reporters that the shows could include “special guests,” hinting at Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and Jimmy Page. None of those musical pals ever materialized, and early in the tour, fans showed their displeasure at not seeing Mick but hearing an hour and a half of Wood originals, covers of blues and country songs, and the very rare Stones cover (usually “Honky Tonk Women”). In Milwaukee, a riot broke out, resulting in 81 arrests and a very pissed-off Richards.
Packed with details of stage designs, offstage and onstage photos and reproductions of tour T-shirts and limousine bills, New Barbarians is surely the last word on one of rock’s most oddball superstar tours. As a bonus, it also comes with a 10-track CD of previously unreleased live recordings including Wood’s “Mystifies Me” and covers of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Rock & Roller” and the blues standard “Rock Me Baby” that revel in the band’s proudly sloppy swagger. Would a similar lineup with a similarly quirky set list make it anywhere near a 20,000-seat arena these days? Probably not, which only makes the story of the New Barbarians that much more flabbergasting today.
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Bruno Ganz on New Film About Last Days of East Germany: ‘This Is a Subject That Will Never Let Me Go’ – Variety
Posted: at 1:43 am
Bruno Ganz on New Film About Last Days of East Germany: 'This Is a Subject That Will Never Let Me Go'
Capturing the history of East Germany in microcosm, the film, based on an adaptation of Eugen Ruge's bestselling 2011 autobiographical novel, revolves around a 90-year-old communist patriarch who has never lost his belief in the socialist utopia even …
Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:39 pm
Utopia Global, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise data solutions and a long-time SAP partner, has released a new software version of its master data governance solution for enterprise asset management that SAP resells as a solution extension under the name SAP Master Data Governance, enterprise asset management extension by Utopia. The new capabilities in the solution extension will help customers to improve maintenance planning, increase regulatory compliance and advance the delivery of customer services dependent upon high availability of infrastructure, facilities and fleet assets.
This new version of the solution extension adds the ability to create and maintain maintenance plans complete with task lists, items and master data issues commonly associated with preventive and predictive maintenance program work. The enterprise asset management extension introduces the SAP Fiori user experience for selected create, review and approver functions, along with:
The new version of SAP Master Data Governance, enterprise asset management extension is a comprehensive commercially available enterprise asset management extension that integrates with the SAP ERP application and complements existing master data governance data models for material, supplier, customer and finance. It works with the SAP Master Data Governance application, SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA and SAP Fiori, and is designed to work with SAP Asset Intelligence Network.
We believe that master data is the DNA of an enterprise. We are very proud of the new release of this solution extension because it responds to client demand for solutions that accelerate movement to the digital economy, Internet of Things, Big Data analytics and commitments to SAP solutions like SAP HANA and SAP Asset Intelligence Network, said Arvind J. Singh, CEO of Utopia Global. We feel this latest version of SAP Master Data Governance, enterprise asset management extension will provide clients with the best tools and methods to build a trusted bridge to SAP HANA adoption.
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Posted: at 9:39 pm
Hows this for a New York Fashion Week party in the age of anxiety? No guest list, no VIP labels, no PR squadron to tussle with at the door. Everything is designed by real people and made in America with ecological sensitivity, and you can buy it on the spot (much of it for less than $100). Anybody can come in off the streetand all sorts of people do.
This was the premise of last nights opening fete for the brand Everybodys new Lower East Side pop-up: fashion as humanist utopia. As part of Informal Shop, a four-day installation hosting experiential commerce and cultural programming in a temporary Henry Street storefront, founders Iris Alonzo and Carolina Crespo gathered friends and strangers for a sort of antiValentines Day, anti-fashion event to celebrate the newest offering in their ongoing series of collaborations with non-trained designers: a tracksuit created by model and activist Adwoa Aboah.
Adwoa Aboah in her Gurls Talk T-shirt, made with Everybody Photo: Courtesy of Everybody
Aboah first worked with Alonzo and Crespo when she asked them to produce the T-shirts for her Gurls Talk feminist action project, which are available at the store.. I just like their aesthetic; I like that they use recycled cotton; I like that theyre women; I like that we talk about our ideas over home-cooked meals, Aboah said.
Alonzo and Crespo also confessed to having a style crush on Aboah. I know shes been called an It girl, Alonzo said, but shes so much more than that.
The tracksuit they designed together consists of a boxy, high-collared sweatshirt top and higher-rise pants in buttery fleece accented by gold zippers with circular pulls. It will debut on Everybodys site this spring and will be sold in black, navy, and pink.
The fit is as effortlessly cool as Aboah herself. I didnt want it to have a saggy crotch; I wanted it to look good on the hips; I wanted it to look good on the bum; I didnt want it to look too girly, she explained of the design. Her references? Roller disco 60s tracksuits meets Wimbledon tennis players meets RunD.M.C.
Photo: Courtesy of Everybody
And though you cant buy the tracksuit yet, the pop-ups other merchandise is equally compelling. We wanted to do something that really felt immersive, where you can escape into some strange fantasyland, Alonzo explained. The brands signature trash teesthick, vintage-style staples made from 100 percent cotton recycled in the U.S. from cutting-floor scraps, priced at $25 eachhang beside a mini-exhibition detailing the industrial process.
To showcase a pair of jaunty mens cotton shirts designed by chess master Prakash Gokalchandwhom Alonzo met by chance in Los Angeless MacArthur Park, where he plays every daya chessboard and chairs rest beneath an enormous palm tree cut-out and a Hockney-esque pool graphic. (Later in the night, a pair of models, or Gen Z-ers who could have been, wearing tracksuits of their ownhers a pink Juicy-ish number paired with rainbow platform sneakers, his a Royal Tenenbaums burgundysat down for a serious match. No, Alonzo insisted, they were not part of the installation, and she had no idea who they were.)
Downstairs, an indigo-belted jacket with pockets galore, designed by artists Mae Elvis Kaufman and Kalen Hollomon, is modeled by mannequins sporting Kaufmans formidable wig collection. (Behind them, posters designed by Hollomon juxtapose 80s-hair-salon-goddess photos with on-point fortune cookie messages: This is not a day to take risks. Diplomacy rules today.) In a neon-lit corner, African-print body pillows shaped like snakes that have swallowed houses, designed by the art collector Jean Pigozzi, were styled as a plush conversation pit. But conversations ground to a halt last night when a pair of go-go boys showed up and stripped down to their contoured briefs, then writhed away before a circle of mostly female onlookers on what became an impromptu dance floor. (Who needs a valentine?)
Photo: Courtesy of Everybody
A table with postcards and stamps for visitors to send handwritten correspondencebright yellow pens at the readyfeels, in the smartphone era, almost like a provocation. Alonzo and Crespo have more where that came from: Tonight, Kaufman and Hollomon will lead a workshop called An Hour of Escapism, in which Kaufman will transform participants with makeup and wigs, with results documented by Hollomon. Tomorrow, landscape architect Margot Jacobs and producer Ed Brachfeldwhose military-style jumpsuit and sturdy cotton outerwear are part of the collectionwill hold court alongside complimentary astrology readings; on Friday, artist and writer Kiki Kudowho designed a little black stretch dress with playful round cut-outs, also available at the storewill serve a Japanese bento breakfast whose probiotic count, Alonzo made a point of noting, will be off the charts.
Is it all some sort of illuminati-grade branding exercise? Or homespun creativity seasoned with a dash of silly fun? Maybe its both. As the crowd thinned out late last night, Aboah, ready to rest up for one more day of runway shows, walked out carrying a plant housed in a pot shaped and painted like a pair of naked boobs. Across the room, a political action plan was hatched.
Open 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. through February 17 at 142 Henry Street, New York; everybody.world .
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Posted: at 9:39 pm
A student-curated exhibition at Jacob Lawrence Gallery envisions political grandiosity.
If life-negating political structures are the result of the suppression of imagination, utopias are visions as pushback. At the University of Washingtons Jacob Lawrence Gallery (The Jake), three new curators, Nadia Ahmed, Sarah Faulk, and Anqi Peng, with support from former director Scott Lawrimore and project assistant Justen Waterhouse, have organized an exhibition series on the conceptions and present-day stakes of utopia. On the 100th anniversary of Jacob Lawrences birth, Utopia Neighborhood Club contextualizes utopia within his life. Faulk states, My hope for the relationship between utopia and the institution this show is happening within is that it can foster a community that encourages imagining radical futures.
Utopia is literally nowhere; the word comes from the Greek roots not and place. Often an ideal against which we compare current reality, utopias imagine societal overhauls into structures where the subjects lives are easier. They are fantastical, such as an island nation where queer women live free from men (but with giant kangaroos) in William Moultons Themyscira, or an alternate reality in which native populations in the Congo had learned about steam technology before Belgiums colonization, as imagined in Seattle author Nisi Shawls Everfair. Utopia as a political premise asks us to imagine something radically outside what we know, like universal basic income and prison abolition, and from there sets direction for programmatic goals. Utopias are multifarious, simultaneous, and even contradictory. When Thomas More wrote Utopia almost exactly 500 years ago, reducing the workday to nine hours was one of his farfetched visions.
Shelter-wear prototypes. Tad Hirsch and Mae Boettcher. Photo Courtesy of Jacob Lawrence Gallery.
Utopias are completely relative, Ahmed tells me. Everyone envisions something different for a perfect world. The exhibition series and public programs demonstrate this expansiveness of perspectives. The first iteration of the series exhibited Tad Hirsch and Mae Boettchers shelter-wear prototypes for homeless people, a versatile poncho formed from Tyvek construction material, which suggested the role of the artist in an idealized society as that of social interventionist. In contrast, Zhi Lins quotidian drawings of a kitchen and bedroom during Chinas Cultural Revolution demonstrated the artists preferred embrace of art for arts sake, to stay away from the intervention of the communist government.
How might Jacob Lawrences life inform our understanding of utopia? With a large exhibition at Seattle Art Museum, his profound impact on this city is experiencing a surge of recognition. Lawrence is celebrated for his depictions of 20th-century black Southern life, specifically for his documentation of the Great Migration, the relocation of more than six million black Americans from the South to the industrial North between the late 1910s and the 1970s. As LadiSasha Jones writes in Temporary Art Review, If we can understand the Great Migration at the turn of the 20th century as a radical spatial imaginary, through this lens, the Black city can be framed as an active collective imagining of utopia. During that era, the many arms of racism were still being flexed via brazen laws such as restrictive housing covenants. In response, Jones writes, Organized networks sprang up all across expanding Black urban enclaves and became a part of the fabric of Black survival and ascension in the city.
It was at Utopia House in Harlem, a community center started by three black women, that young Lawrence took painting classes. Building a utopia involves rearranging social codes to either change laws or sidestep them, and this art club, where Lawrence laid the foundation for his training, was one example of the many outerworlds within the country built for and by black people.
Jacob Lawrence (second from left), Harlem, 1933-34. Photograph by Kenneth F. Space. National Archives, Harmon Foundation, College Park, Maryland
In early 2016, Lawrimore brought in as the Jake Legacy Artist-in-Residence artist Steffani Jemison, whose work is inspired by Utopia House; her show Promise Machine, Jones writes, utilizes utopia as a discourse of abstraction within Lawrences work and a century of imagining the Black city. Jemison drew the connection between Lawrences work and the utopian impulse in collective migration and community network-building: within her project, Jemison created reading groups around books such as Black Utopia: Negro Communal Experiments in America by William Pease, Black Empire by George Schuyler, and Light Ahead for the Negro by Edward A. Johnson.
On the Utopia Neighborhood Club website, a quote from cultural critic Stephen Duncombe reads Utopia is No-Place, and therefore it is left up to all of us to find it. It is clear that the curators placed emphasis on all of us. Public programs pack the exhibition series calendar, such as multiple forums on the meanings of neighborhood and club; How to Organize a Public Library with Professor Michael Swaine; and a workshop on DIY Venue Harm Reduction with architect and curator S. Surface. The exhibition series ends with works by Lawrence, including The Legend of John Brown, a 22-part serigraph series depicting the life and contribution of the important abolitionist, and features a gallery talk by Royal Alley-Barnes, former executive director of Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and Jacob Lawrences first graduate student.
Utopia Neighborhood Club Opening reception. Courtesy Jacob Lawrence Gallery
Utopianism may seem naive as we question the viability of creating societies separate from the ones weve already clumped together with the bulky shrapnel of history. In recent decades techno-utopianists have dominated the discourse with their zealous belief that technology could bring forth a just society, promising that we can invent our way out of our social problems and that new-media technologies and the Internet contain portals to non-hierarchal cybersocieties. As weve seen this pipe dream rust and corrode, its spirit persists in political partnerships, product marketing, and even art exhibitions that promise disruption of the status quo through invention-solutions.
Nadia Ahmed states her hope that many students outside of the art program will join the conversation: People do not take enough advantage of the Gallery, which is why we wanted to ask what people want from it. What could The Jake become to make itself a more accessible space? This receptiveness to input, instead of a patronizing assertion of solutions, is the first step toward collective accountability.
Im struck by the relationship between the utopian no-place and no-place as a geographic negation, a term for an absence of a national identity by law or faith. There are those with no place in America: the fugitive, the refugee, the immigrant; for these, no-place is the purgatory state of inhabiting a country that has denied your legal stake in it. Utopian thinking carries varying weight depending on whether you believed you ever had a country to lose. When no inhabitable places are in sight, devising new social orders is less an indulgent fantasy exercise than a means of survival.
In America 2017, these ideas are highly relevant. How will Jacob Lawrence Gallery continue to account for the utopian tradition of Lawrences life after this exhibition is over? How can the rich trajectory of utopian thought extend our capacities for imagining and acting beyond what we have known to be possible?
Its useful for me to think of a utopian mindset as one committed to hope, creating new possibilities, and new landscapes, Sarah Faulk says, but with the knowledge an end is probably never going to be in sight. The work never ends. A Student Response Part II The Jake Legacy Residency and The Legend of John Brown + Other Works, Jacob Lawrence Gallery, 1915 N.E. Chelan Lane, jacoblawrencegallery.hotglue.me. Through Sat., March 4. Gallery Talk with Royal Alley-Barnes, 10 11 a.m. Wed., Feb. 15.
Posted: February 13, 2017 at 9:43 am
How does Donald Trump view history and Americas role in shaping it? No one, including Mr. Trump himself, seems able to answer that. To find a grand vision guiding this administration, one must look to Steve Bannon, Trumps chief strategist and the architect of his campaigns final months before his victory via the Electoral College.
On its cover,Time magazine labeled Bannon The Great Manipulator, and in an accompanying article, the magazine asked if he is the second most powerful man in the world, leading the reader to believe indeed he is. Yet at first blush, Bannon does not fit the stereotype of a Washington, D.C., powerbroker. His hair is disheveled, he frequently ditches a tie, and his face is typically full of scruff, giving him the vibe of an absent-minded professor.
The look is intended to reflect Bannons anti-establishment worldview but it conceals his more elitist roots. After seven years in the Navy and a degree from Harvard Business School, Bannon worked as a Goldman Sachs financier and then as an investment banker on his own. He transitioned to producing films, especially conservative documentaries, and then, in 2012, took over Breitbart News, one of the leading voices of fringe and grassroots conservatism. Trump was a frequent guest on his Breitbart radio talk show, and in August 2016, Bannon was appointed Chief Executive of Donald Trumps presidential campaign.
Donald Trumps populist approach to policy seems to blow in the changing winds of public opinion and outrage without much long-term strategic direction. The real guiding anchor for Trumpism comes from Bannon, the man with Trumps ear. Steve Bannon, and therefore Donald Trump, view history as a repeated cycle of civilizations rising and falling. They believe Americas current cycle is in crisis, threatening Western culture itself, and it is their job to rescue it from global elites intent on liberal, secular exploitation of America and its values.
Bannon dubbed these establishment elites the Party of Davos after the Swiss resort where the World Economic Forum meets. In Trumps inaugural address, which Bannon helped write, he said the wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world. Speaking to the Liberty Restoration Foundation in 2011, Bannon complained about the elites socialism for the very wealthy and socialism for the poor at the expense of common sense, practical, middle-class people. For both Trump and Bannon, capitalism is in crisis mode, and it is a consistent theme in their speeches and interviews.
Part of this economic crisis came about through dependence on government programs redistributing wealth, but in their view, global elites also encourage government-dependent immigrants to flock to the U.S. and other Western countries as a source of cheap labor. The Party of Davos can benefit from immigration and leave working class Americans with the responsibility of integrating them into society and dealing with the alleged crime and corruption that comes with it.
Thus, Bannon and Trump believe the Party of Davos created not only an economic crisis but also a cultural one. Bannons documentaries like the 2010 film Generation Zero frequently focus on American values, which, to him, means capitalism built around Judeo-Christian values and a strong sense of nationalism. At a 2016 South Carolina Tea Party convention, Bannon complained the swells, the investment bankers, the guys from the EU are the same guys who have allowed the complete collapse of the Judeo-Christian West in Europe.
Trump and Bannon do not believe in religious tests nor do they believe that everyone must be Christian. In fact, the two rarely attend religious services themselves and seem to care little for theological matters. Instead, their Judeo-Christian values refer more generally to a moral compass opposed to pluralism and relativism. It especially means opposition to immigrants from different cultural and religious backgrounds.
These economic and cultural crises follow an ancient pattern, they believe, and we are due for a monumental battle to resolve it. The Bannon-Trump worldview has deep roots in the classics, and Bannon delights in drawing from it. Ancient statesmen, philosophers, and historians from Lycurgus, to Heraclitus, to Herodotus, and to Plato all believed that history was cyclical. Repeatedly, over and over again, civilizations rise and fall by losing touch with their hard-working, humble traditions.
According to this theme, war is waged by poor and nomadic people, an able leader unites them into a confederation, and they begin to take on richer neighbors. The united front fights and conquers and then begins to take on the rich, soft, effeminate characteristics of luxury. Having abandoned masculine military virtues and the religious values that once united them and helped them succeed, they begin to look down on those who still hold on to traditional values. The conquerors then become the conquered, and the cycle repeats. Each empire and civilization, in turn, gets overrun by its poorer, but more aggressive and fertile, neighbors. The end is always the same: a fallen civilization that lost touch with its noble values.
If there is a recurring theme that political philosophers throughout history keep telling themselves, this is it, and it is one that Bannon and Trump buy into wholeheartedly. The historian Livy, who experienced the Roman Empire at its height, said that Rome was struggling with its own greatness. A century later, the poet Juvenal said, [W]e are now suffering the calamities of a long peace. Luxury, more deadly than any foe, has laid her hand upon us, and avenges a conquered world. Juvenal fretted that success in life used to depend on military excellence but eventually led, instead, through the loins of a rich woman.
Although this mythology draws from the ancient classics, it keeps modern political scientists busy with their own twists to the theme. As the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union disintegrated, President George H.W. Bush triumphantly declared it was the beginning of a new world order. Political scientist Francis Fukuyama viewed the occasion in even grander terms and tried to break free of the traditional cyclical theme, famously proclaiming in 1989 that the end of the Cold War marked the end of history. In Fukuyamas view, World War II represented a massive struggle between three distinct ideologies: liberal democracy, fascism, and communism. The war destroyed fascism, and 50 years later, Soviet communism failed. For him and many political scientists, history was over. Liberal democracy won and was here to stay. Fukuyama admitted that democracy may suffer temporary setbacks but argued, in the long run, it would become more and more prevalent.
Fukuyamas grand theory envisioned that liberal democracys permanence would also bring globalization and a strong middle class. Since democracies engage in less warfare, war itself would even disappear. The new utopia might be a bit boring, but that is a small price to pay for peace and prosperity.
In 1993, just four years after Fukuyamas End of History proclamation, political scientist Samuel Huntington sought a return to the traditional theme with The Clash of Civilizations. Huntington argued that Fukuyama was wrong and that identity, not ideology, shapes the world. These identities are shaped by history, language, culture, tradition, and, most important, religion. These different civilizations are marked by different views on the relations between God and man, the individual and the group, the citizen and the state, parents and children, husband and wife, as well as differing views of the relative importance of rights and responsibilities, liberty and authority, equality and hierarchy. Huntington concluded, These differences are the product of centuries. They will not soon disappear.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 seemed to bolster Huntingtons thesis, but the American administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama explicitly rejected it, stressing that the United States was fighting violent extremists, not Arabic civilizations or Islam as a religion. However, in Bannon and Trump, we now have an administration, not only believing in that kind of clash of civilizations, but even welcoming it as a way to save the West from an economic and cultural crisis.
For Bannon and Trump, the most powerful theory based on this cycle mythology is one put forward by Neil Howe and William Strauss in their 1997 book The Fourth Turning. Strauss and Howe have a generational theory of American history that predicts repeated cycles lasting about 80 years. Each 80-year cycle has four turnings that are defined by four moods: high, awakening, unraveling, and, finally, crisis.
Following World War II, America experienced a high. The 1960s brought about a tremendous awakening, and then we experienced several decades of unraveling. Now, of course, we must confront the crisis. In Bannons view, this is the fourth time we have confronted the crisis phase, and each time, the stakes and resulting war get more severe. The Strauss-Howe generational theory is featured heavily in Bannons documentaries, and it comes up frequently in his speeches. In a presentation before the Liberty Restoration Foundation, Bannon says, This is the fourth great crisis in American history. We had the revolution, we had the Civil War, we had the Great Depression and World War II. This is the great Fourth Turning in American history.
Subscribing to the latest trendy twist on an old political theory of cycles is not particularly earth-shattering. However, Bannons solution to the supposed crisis has started to gain understandable attention. David Kaiser, the historian interviewed in Generation Zero, told Time magazine, A second, more alarming interaction didnt show up in the film. Bannon had clearly thought a long time both about the domestic potential and the foreign policy implications of Strauss and Howe. More than once during our interview, he pointed out that each of the three preceding crises had involved a great war, and those conflicts had increased in scope from the American Revolution through the Civil War to the Second World War. He expected a new and even bigger war as part of the current crisis, and he did not seem at all fazed by the prospect.
Although Bannon and Trump blame the Party of Davos for causing much of the crisis, the war they envision will not be waged against elites. Instead, the target is radical Islam. In a 2014 Vatican lecture, Bannon said, I think we are in a crisis of the underpinnings of capitalism, and on top of that were now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism. This may be a little more militant than others. I believe you should take a very, very, very aggressive stance against radical Islam. See whats happening, and you will see were in a war of immense proportions.
Perhaps a global existential war against Islam can be averted, but in Bannon and Trumps view, that will only happen if Americans embrace traditional American values and block those who may not from ever entering the country.
Viewing history through this lens, all of the administrations early goals and executive orders make sense. Ban immigrants from Islamic countries, or at least those most likely to cause trouble. Build a wall along Mexico to stop immigrants and end trade agreements, each viewed as assisting global elites at the expense of the middle class. Bolster the military in preparation for war. In other words, America first.
The Bannon-Trump view of history also accounts for Trumps unusual embrace of Vladimir Putin. Despite Putins many failings, Trump views him as an ally in the war against Islamic extremism. To Trump and Bannon, the European Union seems unaware or uncommitted to addressing the perceived crisis. If they wont stand up for Western civilization, why not enlist Putins help? In his inaugural speech, Trump vowed to unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.
Americans of all political stripes now seem to agree we face a crisis of some sort. Trump and Bannon blame the Party of Davos and radical Islam, while their detractors see a different type of crisis spurred by Trump and Bannon themselves. As David Brooks wrote recently, We are in the midst of a great war of national identity.
Martin Luther King, paraphrasing the 19th-century abolitionist Theodore Parker, famously said, The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Unfortunately, the arc of history seems to be bending toward something other than justice.
Whether you support or oppose Trump and Bannons efforts, the history they seek to bend is fluid. Those who act as if justice or progress is inevitable will be sorely disappointed.