press release

Opening Reception: Thursday, April 10, 8-10 pm

If you have ever dreamed of creating an ideal state, of righting the wrongs of society or of escaping the competition of modern life, you will understand the men and women who founded and lived in California's utopian colonies. "Pursuing with eagerness the phantoms of hope" these idealists withdrew to secluded areas of California in order to embody their visions of "a resplendent, reformed mankind gathered in the ideal society." --Robert V. Hine, California's Utopian Colonies

Historical Section Shamut College, Boston December 26, 2000

Living as we do in the closing year of the twentieth century, enjoying the blessings of a social order at once so simple and logical that it seems but the triumph of common sense, it is no doubt difficult for those whose studies have been largely historical to realize that the present organization of society is, in its completeness, less than a century old. No historical fact is, however better established than that till nearly the end of the nineteenth century it was the general belief that the ancient industrial system, with all its shocking social consequences, was destined to last, with possibly a little patching, to the end of time. --Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward From 2000 to 1887

How to Talk About Utopia Without Saying Utopia takes as its starting point the history of 19th century California communes. The works in this exhibition consider the relationships between alternative forms of social organization and fictional narratives in order to reflect upon utopias of the past, the present or for the future. This exhibition will feature a series of works by Anthony Marcellini and Matthew Rana, which reflect upon the experience of searching for utopias. The floor of the gallery will be covered in sod. Out of the floor will rise a mound to serve as a platform for public address. Spanning 36 feet across the gallery wall will be the Karl Marx Tree, a life-size painting of the largest sequoia in the world and a marker disputing its 'official' name. In addition to this work will be the Inward Looking or Outward Facing (Bench) a utilitarian sculpture based on non-hierarchical structures, which will also house a utopian resource library.

The mound for Public Address will be periodically removed from the gallery and repositioned within public sites in the Bay Area. This mound will support the broadcast of a series of speeches, addresses or eulogies presented at sites in which an event of utopian significance occurred. This series will feature speeches by Iain Boal, Crow Cianciola, Erin Elder, Justin Fiset, Adam Kleinman, J. Salerno, and Zefrey Throwell, among others. Emails will be sent out periodically during the exhibition announcing the various events.

In addition to the gallery installation, a newspaper titled Common Possibility will be printed and distributed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in order to further expound upon these themes. Contributors to the newspaper include: Heman Chong, Sarah & John Elliot, Hu Fang, Chitra Ganesh & Miriam Ghani, Klea McKenna, Leif Megne Tangen, Larry Rinder, Melissa Wyman and others.

This exhibition also features on Saturday, April 19th beginning at 5pm, an all-night film program where individuals can bring sleeping bags and/or tents to spend the night watching films and videos showing different representations of utopia across genres such as historical-drama, documentary, musical, comedy and science fiction.

About the Artists: Anthony Marcellini is an artist, curator and writer based in San Francisco, CA. His work is focused on the construction of fictional and real spaces as platforms to facilitate research, development and reflection into control, liberation, and imagination in public and private urban space. Anthony was co-founder of the artists collaborative It Can Change (2000-2004) a collective which produced art interventions and performances in public and private sites. It Can Change has exhibited nationally and internationally. Anthony was the Curatorial Assistant at Art in General from 2004-2007, where he assisted artists to produce large-scale experimental projects, and produced a series of curated projects and public programs. Anthony's writing has been published in the magazine Satellite, the catalog Close Up, for the French artist Marcelline Delbecq, and in an upcoming catalog on the work of artist Lee Walton. Currently Anthony is perusing a dual MA/MFA in Visual & Critical Studies and Social Practice at California College of the Arts.

Matthew David Rana is an artist living in Oakland. His work is focused by an interest in using contemporary art practices to investigate and support individual agency and collective engagement through the creation of public culture. His recent projects explore non-hierarchical social organization and the urban setting as a site for participatory research and alternative forms of pedagogy. Matthew co-founded Guerre Atelier (2005-ongoing) with Los Angeles based artist Justin Fiset. Their public performances and poster projects investigated potential sites for public speech and civic/social engagement. He is currently pursuing a dual MFA/MA in Social Practice and Visual & Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts.

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How to Talk About Utopia Without Saying Utopia
Anthony Marcellini & Matthew David Rana
Ort: PLAySPACE Gallery