Ideas about utopia are often documented through literature, in the shape of a novel that gives a detailed and specific description of an imaginary society, with emphasis on how everyday life has been changed for the better. The novel explains how the alleged society is organised, why and how social structures and mechanisms are working. Most known utopias attaches great importance to abolish inequality and injustice, and to cultivate cooperation and fellowship.
Utopia as a literary genre was established with Thomas More's Utopia in 1516. The term contains an ambiguity that still defines the genre. ‘Topos’ in Greek is translated ‘place’, the prefix ‘ou’ to ‘no’ or ‘not’ while ‘eu’ means ‘good’ or ‘ideal’. A utopia may thus be both a non-existent place and a good place.
Among the most famous and influential utopias is Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward 2000-1887 (1888), a technocratic and socialist utopia. Ernest Callenbach gives a detailed description of a complete environmental and down-to-earth society and way of life in Ecotopia (1975) while Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time from 1976 is a key feminist utopia. (snl.no).
During Oktoberdans 2016, we wish to investigate these three examples, highlighted by Store Norske Leksikon (The Extended Norwegian Encyclopaedia, administrated by the 9 norwegian universities) as three worthy representatives of the genre.
To present Ecotopia we invite author and visual artist Maria Dorothea Schrattenholz. To join the conversation we invite political advisor Peter Sebastian Hatlebakk and director Tormod Carlsen.
“A novel both timely and prophetic, Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia is a hopeful antidote to the environmental concerns of today, set in an ecologically sound future society. Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as the “newest name after Wells, Verne, Huxley, and Orwell,” Callenbach offers a visionary blueprint for the survival of our planet... and our future.
Ecotopia was founded when northern California, Oregon, and Washington seceded from the Union to create a “stable-state” ecosystem: the perfect balance between human beings and the environment. Now, twenty years later, this isolated, mysterious nation is welcoming its first officially sanctioned American visitor: New York Times-Post reporter Will Weston.
Skeptical yet curious about this green new world, Weston is determined to report his findings objectively. But from the start, he’s alternately impressed and unsettled by the laws governing Ecotopia’s earth-friendly agenda: energy-efficient “mini-cities” to eliminate urban sprawl, zero-tolerance pollution control, tree worship, ritual war games, and a woman-dominated government that has instituted such peaceful revolutions as the twenty-hour workweek and employee ownership of farms and businesses. His old beliefs challenged, his cynicism replaced by hope, Weston meets a sexually forthright Ecotopian woman and undertakes a relationship whose intensity will lead him to a critical choice between two worlds.” (www.goodreads.com)
The discursive program at Oktoberdans 2016 is curated and produced by BIT Teatergarasjen with the financial support of The Nordic Culture Fund, Bergen Kommune and House on Fire.