from 30.05.2020 to 20.09.2020

What If ...?

On the Utopian in Art, Architecture, and Design

How do we want to live today and what artistic means can help us find productive approaches to do so? The interdisciplinary exhibition on the utopian engages contemporary perspectives from art, architecture, and design in a dialog with references from the 1960s and 1970s. It takes up contemporary calls for new utopias for the 21st century and aims at initiating social discussions and visions of the future not by means of dystopian prophecies, but by promoting new modes of thinking via productive discourse. If one perceives utopia as a method of thinking, as an intellectual free space in which concepts for the future are tested while also critically reflecting the status quo, independent of what is currently realizable, it gains immediate significance for the present. As creative engines, art, archi­tec­ture, and design can make a meaningful contribution to promoting such alter­native models of thought and reassessing utopian qualities.

What If ...? presents over thirty artists and designers who investigate the potential of the utopian. In five chapters, the exhibition features photographs, films and videos, drawings, architectural models and objects, extensive or interactive installations. Central thematic complexes related to the utopian, such as state and city, bring together historical and current sources of inspiration for a new understanding. Further­more, the relationship between individual and social utopias as well as alternative perspectives on how we deal with nature and technologies are discussed. The power of imagination and the chances these visualizations offer for our discourses illustrate the relevance of art and design when it comes to developing new utopias.

Participating artists

With contributions by Joseph Beuys, Böhler & Orendt, Cao Fei, Céline Condorelli, Richard J. Dietrich, Dunne & Raby, European Democracy Lab, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Gehl – Making Cities for People, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg; Martina Fineder, Harald Gruendl, Ulrike Haele – Institute of Design Research Vienna, Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation with Patrick Craine, Mike Kelley, Martin Kippenberger, Christian Kühn and Harald Trapp, Los Carpinteros, mischer'traxler studio, OMA, Nam June Paik, Paola Pivi, Sascha Pohflepp, Wolf D. Prix / COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, Yara Said / The Refugee Nation, Traum­novelle, WAI Architecture Think Tank (Cruz Garcia & Nathalie Frankowski), Wideshot, Stephen Willats, Liam Young.

GUest curator

Dr. Franziska Stöhr

Headphones in the exhibition

The exhibition includes video stations with audio tracks which can be listened to via headphones. Disinfected headphones are available free of charge, alternatively feel free to use your own headphones (conventional 3.5 mm plug). Alternatively, you can buy personal headphones at the cash register for a fee of 1 euro.

Catalog and Exhibition Guide

The accompanying exhibition guide, which is available free of charge in the exhi­bition, can be viewed online as a PDF or downloaded here.

An exhibition catalog has been published by the Verlag für moderne Kunst, and is available at a price of 15 euros during the exhibition.