Utopia Now!

July 18, 2001 to September 26, 2001

Socially engaged artists and designers will present both practical and radical approaches to transforming urban and social environments in Utopia Now!. Among the participants in the exhibition are Vito Acconci/Acconci Studio, Shigeru Ban, Santiago Cirugeda, Crimson, Amy Franceschini, Chad McCail, Nils Norman, Raketa, Michael Rakowitz, Superflex and Torolab. The exhibition was organized by Marina McDougall, curator of art and design for the CCAC Institute.

Rather than developing sweeping, unified models of a perfect society, the international group of artists and designers in Utopia Now! proposes social change through projects addressing specific situations, constituencies and locales. Some engineer practical tools designed for use by specific communities. The Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, for example, has developed shelters constructed of cardboard-tube frames for refugees in Rwanda and earthquake victims in Kobe, Japan. One of Ban's paper-tube shelters will be constructed on CCAC's Oakland campus. Other participants create elaborate, unrealizable fictions that serve as hopeful models of what might be achieved in urban areas, as with Acconci's A City that Rides the Garbage Dump, which consists of giant bowls—large enough to hold swimming pools, houses and factories—that float on a tide of garbage. Photographs, drawings, video projections, models and full-scale structures will illuminate the concepts and practical aspects behind the projects.