King’s College London is to work in partnership with Somerset House and the Courtauld Gallery & Institute next year to present Utopia 2016
So often in our society, generations fall into the trap of thinking of Utopia as a “no land”, seemingly impossible and far too distant from our own dystopian reality to ever really strive for, however throughout 2016 many across the world have been celebrating utopias and utopian thought in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s book Utopia. The year has seen a huge variety of exhibitions, lectures, publications and events all promoting these ideals and concepts that, now more than ever, are so necessary to our society.
This year, Somerset House in London are helping to emphasise the many positive aspects in our world and celebrate utopian thought through a series of events exploring art, literature, fashion, design, architecture and film, amongst others, as part of their project UTOPIA 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility. Through this programme they are not only celebrating the publication of Utopia, but are also helping to demonstrate how we can introduce utopian ideas into our reality, as well as proving that the very process of trying to reach utopia can be both inspirational and rewarding. The project has been developed through a collaboration between Somerset House, King’s College London and the Courtault Institute, and is paying particular attention to exploring the challenges of contemporary society. One particular example of this focus can be seen in the various street art exhibitions that help prove that something that has so often been seen negatively and judged to be inferior to other art forms, as graffiti has, can overcome these prejudices and even enrich our society, providing us with often unsettling new perspectives that make us question our political and social concepts (and act upon them), just as Thomas More’s Utopia did 500 years ago.
The beginning of this 12-month commemoration was marked by raising their very own flag, which contains the famous and widely recognisable ‘smiley’ symbol, on the Somerset House flagpole. Through all of this, UTOPIA 2016 is helping to further the subtle, but nevertheless crucial, message that whilst utopian thinking may not lead us all the way to ‘utopia’, it can certainly bring us closer to an improved and very possible reality, instead of simply accepting our somewhat dystopian current and future world as sadly inevitable.
For further details please visit the project’s website: http://utopia2016.com/