Inseln der Utopien -  2002: Potsdam, 2003: Potsdam, Brescia/ Italien

“Were it not for the utopia of former times man would still be sitting naked and miserable in his cave."

Anatole France


In May and June 2003, 40 international artists showed objects and video and computer installations alongside the river Havel, all dealing with the topic of utopia. Sound installations and surreal rafts showed artificial islands, pleasure boats animated with gleaming sculptures and dream figures. Light objects swam on the surfaces of lakes. Visitors could reach the places of utopia by boat, by bike, walking or by car.

 Arte è Vita is a project founded by the Compagnia Bajazzo in Imperia / Italy. It toured through various Italian and German cities and has now reached Potsdam. The topic invited people to move away from the present and to allow for visions and puzzles. We are the grandchildren of Alice in Wonderland, Karl Marx, Robinson Crusoe, Thomas Morus, Georges Orwell and Gulliver from Lilliput. Which conquerors of Utopia can we offer our children?

Pep, Berlin

None other than the Prince Elector wanted to create a paradise of the “Isle of Potsdam”.

The artists can take up this idea and let their imagination fly. The project is filled with life through a network of activities, based on the participation of local cultural centres and initiatives. The “Offener Kunstverein”, the “Waschhaus”, the “fabrik”, the Association of New Media, the “Al Globe Theatre, Potsdam”, the gallery “artisart” and the “Havel-Land-Art e.V. Töplitz” are all cooperating partners.

It is in times of empty public purses that a project like this one has its times, because each cooperating partner contributes his part to the project. One may offer rooms, another may lease machinery without charge, still another may contribute his organisational skills, so that a web of energy and talents is woven.

Chris Hall

Places of Utopia

The places of Utopia were located in Potsdam, in the Neuer Garten and on the Freundschaftsinsel (“Island of Friendship”) as well as near the Castle of Caputh, in Petzow, in the Inselstadt Werder and on the island of Töplitz. An integral part of the concept of a net of participants was the cooperation with regional structures. The art administrations of Potsdam, Potsdam Mittelmark in Belzig and the Cultural Office Werder offered to promote the project.

Maps were drawn to mark the places of Utopia and provide information about the sponsors and their activities. The maps of the waterways and the towns can also be found in the internet. Thus, visitors to this Havel region did not only see the area with a different view but also found their way to the various cultural and recreational institutions in the region that in part also prepared for the event.

Examples were an afternoon at the golf course in Kemnitz near Werder or a visit to the Bicycle and Technical Museum of Werder, the Regional Museum Petzow or the guided nature path “Glindow Alps”. Suddenly one happened upon a sound performance of the Canadian artist Benoit Maubrey, or the increasing wind created spherical sounds from the sound sculptures of Sebastian David. Modern Heroes, ghosts or fantasy creatures appeared on water and on land.

The magic of the Havel region with its many lakes and waterways helped create even more magic and inspired the participants to deal with the positive aspects of the future.

Above: Tea Taramino

Below: Rainer Fürstenberg

Text: Michael Kramer, 2003