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Utopia can be interpreted in many ways

This 500-years-old ideal concept also has a place in modern art.

In his dissertation (Ap) Art Contemporary Art And Utopia , Dirk Hoyer analysed the concept and meaning of utopia especially in the works of contemporary Estonian artists. The starting point for the dissertation was Thomas More's Utopia, written in 1516, which laid the foundation for this ambiguous concept at the time.

'Utopia has traditionally had a significant role in art through reflective reasoning, emphasis on imagination and development of alternative visions that are associated with it. The artistic part of my work is a 60-minute documentary film ”(ap)art”, in which 16 Estonian artists contemplate the concept of utopia through their own art,' says Hoyer.

The four interpretations of utopia

Due to its history, Estonia has often been labelled as a post-communist state. Therefore the country lacks reference points that in the international field of art have contributed to the revival of utopian thinking.

'What makes it more difficult to understand the word utopia is the simplified view that communism was a utopian system, and also the reforming that has taken place in the Estonian society since the 1990s. In the field of modern art this can be seen as fragmentation of a previously very close art community, and therefore the "There are no alternatives" thinking has not been challenged and changing forces typical of utopia have not developed.

Research distinguishes four different ”utopian strategies” (contemporary outopia, contemplative utopia, activism without utopian mental picture, retopia) in the field of modern art. One extreme of utopian thinking is the fatalistic view that changes at global level are not possible. According to the other, change materialises through social and local experiments carried out in practice.

Defence of doctoral dissertation

Dirk Hoyer's dissertation ”(Ap)Art Contemporary Art And Utopia” will be examined at the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture on Friday, 30 October 2015 at 12.00 at Sampo Hall, Hämeentie 135 C, Helsinki. Dr Dafydd Sills-Jones from Aberystwyth University will act as opponent.

Orders for the dissertation can be placed with the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture’s online bookshop: shop.aalto.fi. Inquiries: [email protected], tel. +358 50 313 7086.

Further information:

Dirk Hoyer, [email protected]

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