Two weeks ago, Stephen Duncombe spoke about Utopia and specifically about its nonexistence in his lecture “Utopia is No Place”. Duncombe argued that utopia should exist as a space of collective imagination, an ideal creative commons perhaps, but not as an attainable future. As an example of a useful utopian tool, Duncombe featured Steve Lambert and Packard Jennings’ public posters that were placed in San Francisco in 2008.
Commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Council, Lambert and Jennings’ Market Street project, Wish You Were Here! Postcards From Our Awesome Future, explores important issues of urbanization by re-imagining San Francisco as a Utopia. Lambert and Jennings engage directly with the idea of a cultural commons, one that we have been trying to imagine all summer here at the Open Field. Lambert and Jennings’ posters are filled with dreams, banalities, and fantastical community-building.
How can we get involved with the cultural commons in a real way and engage with clearly unreasonable utopian ideals? These Market Stret posters are designed to plant a seed of creativity in the viewer’s head. Perhaps we can stage interventions in our own way as part of the Open Field. Specifically, the Market Street postcard for “San Francisco Wildlife Refuge” recalls Olive Bieringa’s upcoming, interactive dance performance “Rewilding the Commons.”
As the Open Field project winds down, we are reflecting on issues of the (imagined and real) commons. Check back for more views from the Open Field.