In this sculptural-performative collaboration by John Yelverton Freeman and Elizabeth Matthews, the idea of the Utopian impulse as a force in the human experience is revealed and critiqued in true social realities. In Western culture, naturally occurring subjectivities such as masculine-feminine, childhood-adulthood, dream space and real space, are presented as binary states which are pitted against one another, a habit of thought symptomatic of patriarchal ideals: “Men have become the only social subjects, with women [children, animals ……] as objects of exchange between them.” (Luce Irigaray -2006, How to Make Feminine Self Affection Appear). In this sense, the Utopian impulse may be understood as that which rises up in an individual who experiences this social-political system, and then not only imagines but, with whatever materials are on hand, requires an alternative way.
Our vision of Utopia proposes that differences of being needn’t be considered frightening or impossibly out of normalcy. We bring with us our child-self, our past, every place we’ve ever been, our adult-self, our masculine and feminine selves. None of these need be destroyed for the sake of a narrow definition of an ideal. Using fabric and household materials, these ideas are performed to explore the idea of keeping differing subjectivities in play. Through simple action with ordinary materials, alternatives are considered, explored and validated. Our aim is to “let be and appear a part of us that our systems of representations… have considered irrelevant” (Irigaray – 1994, Thinking the Difference p.56).
(All images courtesy of Fiona Killeen, taken at Dublin Live Art Festival 2013)