Saturday, August 17, 2013

Through the Mirror: Utopia Revisited

Backyard Gaze : Tablecloth Box #1
This week marks the first ever installation of this new body of work at the Montserrat Gallery in Beverly, MA. Leonie Bradbury curated this exhibition of art that walks the line between and immersed in the utopian/dystopian dialogue. At least I hope it will be a dialogue and not a shouting match. As I have matured I have taken a stronger and more committed stance toward a utopic vision. Recent work demonstrates this tendency. As such, this installation includes a dining room table with 12 plates and a tea set on it as well as examples form the Backyard Gaze Project. More pictures will be posted here next week after the installation.

Here is the text I wrote as a companion to the exhibit.

Through the Mirror: Utopia Revisited
Enter the dining room

An installation at Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, Massachusetts
by Mary Anne Davis
August 24th – December 14th, 2013

A dining room table is set with twelve plates – each impressed with a line from the opening page of Thomas Moore’s novel. The table is flanked with two benches for sitting. The room includes selected books for related reading and study. Framed photographs of heroes, influential thinkers, and artists are hung on the wall along with a range of quotes that imply utopia. I have installed a series of windows in the form of boxes from the “Backyard Gaze Project,” which are observations of idyllic nature. I have installed a kiosk of souvenirs, an assembly of tokens and small artworks all reflecting some aspect of the utopian ideal. The original Utopia, first published in 1516, describes an island organized for the best life possible for the most people, like life in this dining room.
Utopia, or utopia, might be considered an ideal – a thing or state worth striving toward, like a light to a dining room plant. It may never be achieved but as a vision or beacon, it can inspire better behavior. As a non-religious idea, utopia has its appeal as a condition of life that is without external authority but instead relies upon a true community, perhaps even democracy, not a representative democracy but an actual democracy, where everyone has a voice. Is the opposite of utopia, dystopia? I argue that complete annihilation actually better represents utopia’s opposite. Dystopia has romantic undertones, which complete destruction does not and may even have a place within a utopic mentality.
davistudio is the foil from which I practice my utopian ideals and pursue an optimistic philosophy.  davistudio sustains an active practice that includes paid internships for young artists as a training ground toward independent studio practice. davistudio sells items and artwork through stores and Etsy as a means of supporting the studio and those employed, seeking to further develop ideals hinted at in the economic ideals set forth in Plato’s Republic and More’s famous novel.