Friday, February 18, 2005

Utopicity and a politics of hope

Re-discovering past potential futures and the politics of hope (pdf) by Inke Arns

"Most of the artists I was dealing with in in my research showed a dedicated interest in what Giorgio Agamben calls past potential futures, which is a slightly different concept than the interest in past futures. Opposed to actualities, which can be described as 'practical possibilities', potentialities represent 'abstract possibilities' each present is pregnant with. Such potentialities are present, but not yet active or fully acknowledged - some of these potentialities will even lead to dead ends or alternatively become dead media. According to Agamben, reactivating these past potential futures is central to a politics of hope...

Part of such a project or a politics of hope could be what I have called, in my research project on the paradigm shift in the way artists reflect the historical avant-garde and the notion of utopia, 'retro-utopianism'. Since the 1990s, with a younger generation of media artists (predominantly but not exclusively in Eastern Europe), there is a significant change in the reflection of the historical avant-garde which is grounded in a renewed interest in the notion of utopia (which is understood in a different way than the holistic or prescriptive utopias of the past). This shift is characterized by a growing artistic interest in bygone technological phantasies, formulated in early 20th century artistic and/or scientific contexts... In today’s technological environment, the notion of utopia is seen as a deeply emancipatory and visionary potential (therefore the connection to the politics of hope)."


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