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.
Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time from 1976 will be presented by Anette Basso from the political party FI (Feministic Initiative). As listeners and opponents we have invited Anna Watson, PhD Candidate at Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies at the University of Bergen, and choreographer Daina Ashbee (CA).
“A journey through resistance and revolution, Woman on the Edge of Time expresses the personal in the political by exploring the body as a site of resistance. Like many of Marge Piercy’s page turning works of fiction, her well-crafted narrative is led by affectionately observed and likeably flawed characters. Piercy gives space in her work to women’s experiences and relationships, often, as in this novel, to queer women and women of colour. Woman on the Edge of Time depicts parallel stories: 1970s New York, where incidents will fate a potentially utopic or dystopic future, and the year 2137.
Piercy’s utopia elaborates on contemporary political and scientific experiments in horizontal living/organising and computer technology. No one bears children and male bodied people produce milk. Pronouns are non gendered and every child has three co-mothers until they turn 13 and pick their own name, off in the forest.
Everyone’s in functional polyamorous relationships. Each has a room of their own, creating a rhizomatic network of closely related individuals, with no nuclear or hierarchical relationships, intimate or familial. We meet a young teenager playing a harp to a room of sleeping babies. For the big party, everyone gets dressed up in fabulous Gaga-esque biodegradable outfits. Neighbouring communities consider their respective needs and debate until consensus on how to live with each other and the land. It’s delightfully politically idyllic.» (www.redpepper.org.uk)
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.