ARTISTS: Nick Tobier and Juliane Stiegele
Our streets and cities could be so much more interesting if artists were involved in the process of deciding what goes next to what. Efficient flow of goods and capital, appropriate parking enforcement, along with the codes of zoning can tend to enforce normative behavior on an urban scale. We believe it is vital to shake our collective selves from this normative city.
The Business Improvement District as defacto neighborhood design is limited. UTOPIA STORE expands these limits.
UTOPIA STORE encourages utopian conditions where the lives of the city are enhanced by zoning that encourages creativity over profit. These conditions can be realized by any person. Any day. The location of this utopia is the space between people.
UTOPIA STORE opens in a busy street in the center of the City–in a temporary vacancy, within a corner of an existing enterprise.
UTOPIA STORE temporarily implants a value system that sidesteps materialism into this commercial environment: there is nothing to buy here, instead non-material connections can be had for free exchange.
This store provides opportunities for extraordinary moments that turn an ordinary day into something special –poetic situations and encounters of that produce exceptional qualities between the social lines of the expected.
Far from the aspiration of an unattainable ideal utopia, we would like to instigate a relentless curiosity that investigates familiar environments and stirs up the creative resources that may otherwise lie fallow.
Situating these exchanges in the midst of everyday commerce, we hope to radically expand our definitions of work and exchange to transcend the material and the monetary to recognize value in every conscious action. In this economy of work, value is ascribed to thoughtfulness, love, curiosity, real interest and fantasy. Development here cannot be measured merely in euros or dollars, but in the insertion of joy, of hope and of possibility.
We propose to reinvigorate what at times seem to be inevitable relationships in the work of the day. Liberating the forcible connection between work as functional task or as means to an end, Utopia Store establishes new working exchange relationships and a forum to provoke subsequent combinations.
UTOPIA STORE offers an assortment of unexpected situations on location. Our task as artists working with the Planning & Zoning division of Business and Development for Brooklyn’s City Council, is to act as agents and provacateurs, bringing people and situations together. The developing encounters will be documented to demonstrate the enormous potential of such a collection of creativity.
We offer, by way of illustrative example, the following hypothetical situations:
An office seeks an elderly Lady to come an knit for a couple of hours a week on location. Her peaceful sight provides calm and steadiness in the busy atmosphere of the company. It is a situation of winning on both sides, as also the Lady longs for the opportunity to spend time among other people and enjoys their appreciation for her presence. There is „knitting“ on both sides, networking.
A dancer seeks selects an unusual place for her daily exercises. A public laundromat offers her the opportunity. Her repeated pirouette movements correspond in a marvelous way with the elegant monotony of a laundromat, as each machine perfects its movement over set intervals. The coincidental audience enjoys the waiting time for the washing program to finish.
To begin the transformation, we will initiate one or two marvelous encounters to inform and attract possible participants.
Additionally, we will reach potential participants by announcing the project through newspapers, local radio stations and local tv. Also concrete calls for participation will be distributed by leaflets on busy locations of the City, briefly describing the content of UTOPIA STORE.
(An ideal outcome for us would be if UTOPIA STORE could become so integral to the life of the city during the project time that it would continue to exist in after we have left – in the hearts and minds of the residents and participants and as an institution.)
UTOPIA STORE needs:
A location (an abandoned shop or corner in an active store)
Two tables, a couple of comfortable chairs, internet access, a phone or mobile phone, a coffeemaker, some stationary, lettering for the facade
Connections to newspapers, local radio and tv
Copies of Advertisement leaflets
Documentation of encounters in photography and video