Performative utopier i samtidskunsten


  • Camilla Jalving
  • Marie Laurberg



contemporary art, utopia, modernism, performativity


PERFORMATIVE UTOPIAS IN CONTEMPORARY ART | The article deals with the current interest in the notion of utopia within contemporary visual art and theory. It is argued that utopia as a concept and area of investigation has returned on the contemporary art scene, albeit in a remarkably new way. If modernism presented utopia as a final vision for a better society, utopia is now articulated in a less ambitious way, in the vein of the much more modest question “what if”? Basing its argument on art projects by Andrea Zittel, Olafur Eliasson, Francis Alÿs and Tomàs Saraceno among others, the article puts forward the notion of a “performative utopia” – a utopia that is enacted rather than represented, and which is thus contextually and situationally defined. In the article the notion of a performative utopia is related to Nicolas Bourriaud’s idea of the “microutopia” and Fredric Jameson’s distinction between utopia as program and impulse. In conclusion it is stated that in as much as the contemporary utopia does not necessarily describe a fixed reality, its main objective is to project new visions. Hence, its criticality is not descriptively based, but lies in its ability to present a counter-image that calls on the imagination of the viewer. A plea is made for this kind of criticality as it is argued that challenging the boundaries of our imagination in itself constitutes a true cultural transformation.





Jalving, C., & Laurberg, M. (2012). Performative utopier i samtidskunsten. K&K - Kultur Og Klasse, 40(114), 109–122.