Almost a decade into the 21st century, the world seems poised at a critical juncture. Newspaper headlines worldwide decry today’s economic and sociopolitical debacles, where corporate bailouts, home foreclosures, rampant unemployment, and lackluster financial markets summarize the disconcerting economic state of our global village.
Under these conditions, one may long for a better time or place, express escapist tendencies, or fantasize utopian visions. This exhibition, organized from the Kemper Museum’s permanent collection, approaches the vast and subjective notion of utopia through works that depict events, places, or ideas that suggest idyllic states. Utopia can be defined as a perfect place or ideal society—void of poverty, war, and suffering, and founded on peace and equality. Often regarded as impractical or unattainable, utopia is also viewed not as a physical place, but as a state of supreme consciousness attainable through faith, meditation, or transcendence. The works in this exhibition not only suggest the pluralistic and grand nature of utopia, but they also point to life’s smaller joys, such as plentiful desserts, unconditional love, and the freedom of independent and creative thought, which allow us to find a little piece of heaven on earth.
Visit Kemper at the Crossroads to experience this exhibition’s counterpart, In Loving Memory of You, Too, which addresses less-than-idyllic themes of dystopia. That show is on view February 20–May 16, 2009.
Listen to Interview with Archie Scott Gobber
Above: Archie Scott Gobber, In Loving Memory of You, 2007–08; enamel on wood panels, 80 x 144 inches; Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum Purchase made possible by the Collectors Forum and the Sosland Acquisition Fund, 2008.26