Gero von Randow, editor for the politics section of DIE ZEIT, addresses the power of utopia during the congress' warm-up session, introducing his speech with the following words:
Utopias are created out of the discrepancy between the real and the possible.
Utopias explore possibilities and teach us something about reality. Art creates reality and teaches us something about possibilities.
Utopias are not just tools for painting the future, but also serve to evaluate the present.
Originally utopias were places that could not be reached, such as the island of Atlantis. It's only since they've been located in time, even if it's in the distant future, that they've been able to turn into drivers of political action.
There's also a danger in this: for utopians, the present is sometimes worth less than the future. That means it's possible to fall prey to the temptation to extend that judgement and apply it to the people of the present. That's what Lenin, Guevara and Mao thought: whoever was against their revolution wasn't as valuable.
Utopias can be, at least in part, pulled out of the future into the present. We're already beginning this process, with solidarity-based modes of behaviour, for example. But it is also an ambivalent process. This ambivalence of an envisioned utopia is also familiar to those of us in the art world.
Without utopias it would be impossible to bear reality – and that also has an ambivalent significance.
The event will be held in German and will be translated simultaneously into English. There is no need to register for the event.