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Exhibition Review, "Utopian Bodies—Fashion Looks Forward" (Liljevalchs Konsthall, September 25, 2015-February 7, 2016)
Stockholm University.
2016 (English)In: Russian Fashion Theory, ISSN ISBN 5-86793-472-1Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

By its very nature, a utopian proposal is forward-looking and fundamentally predicated on the premise of change. Whether it is a literal blueprint for a future civilization, or merely a means of underscoring the shortcomings and inequities of contemporary society, the ideological foundations of a utopia are necessarily reactionary. Through history, utopias have taken many forms and have performed a number of theoretical functions—from Thomas More’s 1516 book Utopia in which he imagined a fictional island civilization as a critique of bourgeois European society, to the Russian Constructivists’ total artwork created to propel the Russian people into the future. However, while it may take many forms,  the basic function of the utopian ideal—whether it has emerged from the art world or from politics—has been to inspire transformation. Indeed, as Oscar Wilde wrote, “Progress is the realization of utopias” (Wilde 1915: 29).

In their exhibition, Utopian Bodies—Fashion Looks Forward held at Stockholm’s Liljevalchs Konsthall, curators Sofia Hedman and Serge Martynov conceptualize utopia through the lens of fashion. Exploring, as they explain in the exhibition’s introductory text, “fashion’s possibilities and human creativity,” it is unclear whether they imagine dress itself as a kind of utopia, enveloping individual bodies, or as a material expression of fashion designers’ utopian prophecies. In the sprawling installation, featuring over 200 garments, it may indeed be both. Yet, although the utopia of Utopian Bodies is nebulously conceptualized, much like those philosophers and theorists who came before them, Hedman and Martynov invoke the restlessness of a utopian proposal, focusing on the oppositional tendencies of contemporary fashion and its capacities to itself be a vehicle for social change. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bloomsbury Academic, 2016.
Keyword [en]
Exhibition Review, Fashion Studies, Fashion Theory, Curatorial Studies, Fashion Design, Sweden, Stockholm
National Category
Research subject
Fashion Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-130782OAI: diva2:933393
Available from: 2016-06-04 Created: 2016-06-04 Last updated: 2016-06-04

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