Utopia Awards


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  • First Prize: On Navigating the Continents of Utopia, Carlijn Kingma

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  • Brief by the Author:

    from the shores of the current

    Utopia as a thinking exercise, about where we come from, where we are, and where we could go...

    We set sail to the continents of Utopia a taxonomy of all utopians before us. By first tracing what is there, we will find alternative social roadmaps. When a roadmap is finally realised the context gradually changes and the roadmaps are to be redrawn.

    Utopia is never a physical place to reach. Instead, our reality has always taken shape in between utopia and dystopia: in response to our fears and desires. By travelling through a history of the utopian tradition we will gradually come to understand that - from the classical foundation, to the heavenly utopia of Christianity, to the utopian journey to the new world and up until today - Utopia has always been a trigger for progress. We need Utopia. A horizon full of beacons to steer towards a better tomorrow.

    We have been mapping the ocean of our imagination, and like the cartographers of old we will dream about the unknown horizons of time. The borders of this map mark the symbols of our new utopian journeys. The Fabric of Humankind, the weaving and unravelling of social structures. Or, Stargazers & Gravediggers, visualising the arbitrary but incontestable gab that humankind has dug in between of culture and nature and the ideas that attempt to bridge it.

    Society needs Utopia, a Utopia nourished by imagination. By traveling through the past, scrutinizing the present through mapping the invisible architectures of society, through the act of our imagination, we will set sail to explore the endless possibilities for a better tomorrow.

    • Jury Citation

      "...both in its own vision - but also in its generous tributes to others, such as Buckminster Fuller, Dante, and Le Corbusier - Kingmas work is inspirational in its bringing together of divergent classical, religious, mechanistic, colonialist and astrological utopias in an intricately detailed, impressively researched, and beautifully unified hand drawing."

      • Read the full commentary by Ben Clement and Sebastian de la Cour of benandsebastian.

      A large blueprint shows a universal map of past and future utopias, bordered by detailed drawings and texts on all sides.

      Carlijn Kingmas proposal looks back at the diverse history of utopias and dystopias. With great drafting skill, which recalls the drawings of the Soviet-era paper architects Brodsky and Utkin, she depicts an encyclopaedic cartography of utopias as a voyage to be charted between our desires and our fears, amid continents such as the Lost Continent, the Virgin Continent and the Ghost Continent.

      Both in its own vision - but also in its generous tributes to others, such as Buckminster Fuller, Dante, and Le Corbusier - Kingmas work is inspirational in its bringing together of divergent classical, religious, mechanistic, colonialist and astrological utopias in an intricately detailed, impressively researched, and beautifully unified hand drawing.

      The drawing is abundant in details which are worth lingering over, one example being the Lemonade Sea, a nod to Charles Fouriers hauntingly prescient 19th century vision of manmade climate change, in which the northern ice caps would melt and the sea would turn acidic, lending it the taste of lemonade.

      For those who are engaged in bringing about societal change, it would be ideal to be able to visit and understand the possibilities of the utopias of the past, together with the possible pitfalls of their realisation. In Navigating the Seas of Utopia, we are launched off on a swashbuckling thought experiment in which we get to ask questions as well as sail through others answers, longing to land on the shore of an ultimate Utopia.

      The jury has chosen to award the first prize of 8000 euros to Carlijn Kingma for the proposal On Navigating the Seas of Utopia, which, with its inspiring imagery, stands out as a convincing winner.

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  • About the Author

    Carlijn is a cartographer of society. Unlike traditional cartography, she creates maps of mindscapes: imaginary worlds, continents and universes to analyse the mechanisms by which we run our society such as politics, religion, capitalism, education. Graduated as an architect at Delft University of Technology, architectural elements become a metaphorical language and give direction, atmosphere and meaning to the fictional worlds. During her architectural training, Carlijn Kingma became interested in the power of utopia. Her works present utopia as a place where practical possibility and desire coalesce, maps that can help us navigate towards a better future.