Artistic utopias of revolt

Julia Ramírez Blanco, Artistic Utopias of Revolt: Claremont Road, Reclaim the Streets, the City of Sol, Palgrave, 2018.

“Julia Ramírez Blanco, chronicliing in word and image several of the most important moments/movements of activist creativity in recent times, brilliantly demonstrates de power and promise of Utopia: not as a permanent place to be found, but as a manifestaation of radical imagination that provides a point on the horizon to inspire us onward and guide us on our journey. Artistic Utopias of Revolt is an essential map for any explorer in search of a new world”. Stephen Duncombe, New York University, USA.

“A fascinating, in-depth study of the artistic practice of protest, revolt and utopian imagination. The juxtaposition of examples drawn from Britain, the Us and Spain makes this book particularly relevant. The book shows successfully how utopian imagination and utopian aesthetics, udnerpinned by Realpolitik, can create transformatory utopias of revolt”. Nicole Pohl, Oxford Brookes University, UK.

In 1993 a group of squatters occupies all the houses in east London’s Claremont Road in an attempt to prevent their demolition to make way for a new motorway. The place is filled with aesthetic elements that have been designed so that they can play a defensive role when the moment of eviction arrives: sculptures are turned into barricades.
In 1995, again in London, the Reclaim the Streets group starts to organize big illegal street parties that prevent the normal functioning of the city. For brief periods of time, they establish a regime of collective creativity where everything is free of charge. This kind of hugely performative celebration will expand until it joins forces with the antiglobalisation movement at the end of the decade.
After the enormous protests of Seattle in 1999, the “counter summit” format takes off, with protesters following the global elite’s international reunions and developing spectacular parallel events. In May 2011, a new form of protest emerges as a crowd takes over the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid, importing into Europe a form of acting that comes directly from the Arab Spring. The ‘Acampadasol’ sets up a whole city inside another, with its nursing stations, its vegetable garden and its arts committee.
‘Artistic utopias of revolt’ seeks to analyse the aesthetic and utopian dimensions of various forms of community activism. The book shows how dreams of a different kind of society sometimes manifest themselves in physical form, in contexts of political confrontation. And how, at times, its artistic forms provide the language to express the desire for collective change, the possibility of using other ways and means to handle the challenge of living together and inhabiting a common space.

Utopías artísticas de revuelta: PRESS

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