Utopias Exhibition: 6th Syn Festival 2019

Summerhall Upper Church, 22nd March – 4th April 2019

Eighteen contemporary artists who live and work in Scotland explore concepts of ‘utopia’. Taking as a starting point Thomas More’s ground-breaking book, first published in 1516, the artists present their own responses on utopian thought in the context of contemporary politics. 

In 1516, the statesman and poet Thomas More published Utopia, a description of an ideal island nation. A century later, Francis Bacon wrote the novel New Atlantis (1627), a story about an isolated self-providing mythical island, in which the inhabitants “constructed” an ideal society, cutting itself off from the rest of the world. Today, five centuries after More’s vision, the discourse on utopia seems more pertinent than ever and concerns almost every aspect of public life. Undoubtedly, in Britain, the 2016 referendum brought the political rhetoric of utopia back to the surface, dividing collective consciousness in a catholic manner. On the one hand, the majority (going by the result at least) regarded Brexit as an opportunity to attain utopia and envisaged the UK as an isolated island which would burst forth in growth, fuelled exclusively by its own resources. For others, Brexit’s utopia constitutes an absolute dystopia and lays the ground for a dreary reality in which polyphony is forbidden and multiculturality is condemned.

Invited artists: Alessandro Di Massimo, Rhona Taylor, Calum Thom and Olivia Turner
Selected artists: Anna Berrino, Rachael BibbyAndy Cumming, Michael Dawson, Sally Mairs, Nikkita Morgan, Callum Russell, StAm, Marissa Stoffer, Rhona Sword, Michael Kay Terence, Jamie Watt, Matthew Wilson and Ana Yarza.

Photograph: Dan Mosley Photography