Working Utopias researches artist‐run organizations of today and the past to examine collaboration under conditions of highly individualized work regimes. It thereby aims at re‐examining modes of operation with regard to their social rather than individual dimension. Working Utopias is a collaboration between organisation researcher Anke Strauß and choreographer Christina Ciupke.
Working Utopias is about narratives of contemporary work-lives that carry a utopian shimmer. They differ in form, in structure, in texture, in essence. Yet these narratives are carried forward by a longing that aims at constituting a reality, which vindicates hope. Whilst being aware of conditions of loneliness that are often labelled as precariousness, competitiveness, or individualism that characterise many forms of today’s work-lives – not just cultural or creative labour – the narratives we have collected, nurtured, or co-created insist on the possibility of abundance, togetherness, and co-existence that go beyond the notion of stable community.
Working Utopias is a multitude, impossible to reduce to one, clear-cut essence. It thrives on the (affective) intensities of improbable encounters – of thoughts, of places, of people, of longings, etc. – that are brought together in acts of folding. Like fungi that are always larger than the fruiting bodies that greet us in the woods, in the meadows but also show in buildings, etc. this website can only display the visible or audible traces of these encounters. These traces, at the same time, hint at something that is larger yet more ephemeral. It might be described as an affective undercurrent that drives all these conversations, all these projects, and experiments of encounter that is, the desire for the joyous feeling of being alive. Joy is an affect that increases our power to think and act. It thus is a driver that generates openings, welcomes connections and fosters generosity. It fuels people, practices, projects differently than the deadening, closing and lonely sentiment of fear that seems to pervade so many of today’s (work)lives.
Working Utopias has many layers: a research project, a journey, a space of exchange, an on-going conversation, a way of thinking together, a performance.
Taking our collaboration as the starting point for thinking about new forms of organising productive encounters, we visited various artist-led organisations and initiated dialogues on collaboration, solidarity, situatedness and the conditions of artists’ work-lives. Interlacing these conversations with our personal experiences and ways of knowing – as performance artist and organisation researcher – we constantly shifted between practice and theoretical reflection to develop the potential of interdisciplinary dialogue.