“Utopian demands are for some the last and only hope.”

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Alice Walker told me that the right to be a self-builder and a space-maker, to create spaces outside of the colonial gaze from which to view myself and others like me, is a Utopian demand that I must live out through my art/perform thoroughly, in a way that has blood and bone-marrow. I am not the first person to feel this way, the current only one, and I will not be the last. I look up to the work of artists like Adrian Piper, Lorraine O’Grady, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, Ebony G. Patterson, Hannah Black, Sondra Perry, and of many others.

I feel that we are entering an age where many Utopian demands should and will be met (in and outside of the field of art) soon or demanded with such vigor that the plates of certain foundations may shift. The future will be different from the present, because for some the present reality is simply too brutal and too overwhelming to be accepted/endured. This is a time where Utopian demands are for some the last and only hope. My art is for these people and the communities of other artists who are also making for us.

Kathi Weeks’ definition of a Utopian demand: “a political demand that takes the form not of a narrowly pragmatic reform but of a more substantial transformation of the present configuration of social relations; it is a demand that raises eyebrows, one for which we would probably not expect immediate success. These are demands that would be difficult – though not impossible – to realize in the present institutional and ideological context; to be considered feasible, a number of shifts in the terrain of political discourse must be effected.” (https://libcom.org/library/future-now-utopian-demands-temporalities-hope)
Read more | PennMFA 2016 Thesis Statement | E. Jane