Bowes Art & Architecture Library
Curated by Anna Fishaut, Spring 2012
Utopie is a sixteen-issue journal (one issue being a double number) that was published by the French ultra-leftist group of the same name in the years leading up to and following the tumultuous events of 1968. In a sense, in its focus upon urban forms and the politics of space, it was an architecture journal, but the group’s collective aim was to move beyond the discipline into a more philosophical and less illustrative realm. Members of the group hailed from the disciplines not only of architecture but of sociology and philosophy (Later, the journal adopted a stance of author anonymity so as to stress pure theory over idiosyncrasy.). Contributors to the journal included the its founder Hubert Tonka, Jean Aubert, Isabelle Auricoste, René Lourau, and, most famously, Jean Baudrillard.
Utopie as a group paralleled the Situationists, though it could be argued that the Situationists focused more on practical political action than Utopie did. Baudrillard, in discussing Utopie and its journal, separated his group from the Situationists (with which he had been associated earlier in his career) by claiming: “For us, 1968 was already more than politics. It was symbolic, almost ‘metahistorical.’ Thereafter, it was all over. In the 1970s, we passed beyond the end. Thereafter, we passed entirely to the side of theory." The Art & Architecture Library owns the six published volumes of The Situationist Times; Utopie serves as a complement and counterpoint to this collection.
It is worth noting, too, the character of Utopie’s graphic design, each issue’s cover bearing a single color with bold lowercase text. Even as its contributors moved more and more toward an erasure of the visual in favor of the theoretical, appearances—and their uniqueness—certainly mattered.