Untitled (for Utopia)

Series of videos about personal views on the concept of 'utopia' for the Utopia exhibition at Collectief Derde Wal, Nijmegen, NL, 2014

For the exhibition Utopia I made a new video work, in which four people where interviewed about their personal worldviews. They were all asked the same questions, and in their answers they describe their personal utopia. The interviewees were not shown in the video; only video fragments of the everyday environment were visible. When putting on the headphones, the viewer can listen to the interviews.

The language spoken in the videos is Dutch. An English translation of the spoken words is written below each video. (I believe subtitles spoil the overall appearance of the videos in this case.)

Above: exhibition overview at Collectief Derde Wal, Nijmegen (NL)
Below: the four videos. In the exhibition at Collectief Derde Wal the orders of the videos was, as seen from left to right, no.1, 2, 3 and 4.

I’m Hanneke and I’m 33 years old.
…I see myself as someone who… is always learning and developing him/herself. Especially on a personal level. And as someone who tries to enjoy live as much as possible without harming others and harming the planet. My worldview is that I think I’m here for a reason, that I have to develop myself as much as possible, and that everything happens for a reason. I don’t know if I’ve matured enough and developed myself enough to realize and recognize this myself, but everything happens for a reason. I think the concept of a utopia is very complicated, because it assumes it’s a place where everybody is happy in his or her own way, but the way I’m happiest does not mean this will also work for someone else. Also, I assume that everybody’s on earth to learn something, and if everything is completely utopic, you won’t encounter something new anymore and you won’t be able to develop yourself any further. So according to me, a utopia is something what doesn’t exist or is not able to exist, something of which we as mankind aren’t ready for. Because f you want to live in my idea of a utopia, it means that everyone would have to have a kind of self-reflection. It’s a bit of the same feeling as with communism; I think the idea is brilliant, but it only works when everybody has the same feeling of responsibility and is able to have a good look at themselves. So, I can hardly imagine that we as a spiecies are already ready to live in a utopia. I think we still need to learn a lot, and that we’re not ready yet, that we’re too young.

For me, a utopia is a place where everybody can be who they want to be and willl be able to do so without causing any harm to others. That means we’ll have to treat animals and people in a very different way, the bio-industry wouldn’t exist, the ozone hole wouldn’t be there, there wouldn’t be any countries anymore because the concept of differences between people because they happen to live in other countries wouldn’t exist either. The difference between men and women would not be a problem anymore. Homosexuality, heterosexuality, transgender… whatever you are, everyone is allowed to be what they want to be. Personally I would think it would be ideal too if everyone would just fall in love with a person, instead of someone’s looks, so that means everyone would be bisexual in a way. I think that if we evolve far enough, it will become like this in the end, sooner or later. If we happen to evolve in the right direction, that is. Yes, it would look very different compared to now, but maybe it will also look quite the same in some way.

What I do to realize this utopia is that I try to live in a conscious way, by responding as clean and pure as possible towards people and animals and to harm the planet as less as possible. I’ve got a profession where I’m responsible for young children, so I think that the more I can learn them how to have an open attitude, I can also contribute to the future of the planet.

In my utopia there’s a place for everyone who lives on Earth. Because I believe that as soon as you start deciding who would be allowed in this utopia and who wouldn’t, the people who are there to judge others wouldn’t be welcome to begin with. So… It’s a contradiction, it can’t. Everyone is equal, there won’t be any judgements made, so you can not judge someone else.”

I am Aleks, 54. Born and raised in the Soviet Union, now I’m living in The Netherlands for 15 years already. I’ve been raised as a Christian, technically trained. I think that’s enough.

A utopia, as in a classic utopia, is described in the 16th century in a book of Thomas Moore. Utopia in itself is a kind of fantasy, an impossible reality, something… a goal, you can call it like that. The first utopia was actually described in the Bible, Heaven. Everyone was equal, people befriended animals, et cetera, et cetera. The next utopia as developed from Thomas Moore was the concept of communism. Everybody is equal, he works to his liking and he gets to his liking. So that’s the classical understanding of an utopia, I can’t say anything more about that. It’s all described in encyclopedias or Wikipedia or things like that.

For me, an utopia is basically the same as based on the idea that people are equal, that there’s a classless society. If you go to a hospital’s maternity ward, you can’t know which baby is the son of a billionair and who is the sun of the poorest person. Everybody is born equal, the differences start to develop when they start to grow. So from birth everybody is equal, and in an utopia people stay that way. OK, somebody becomes stronger, somebody becomes smarter, but you can use every person. So for me, an utopia is one world that is not divided by the rich and poor, because every person has the right to a normal life. But this person also has to get an opportunity to a normal life. If someone is really good at digging soil, he has to get enough resourses to lead a normal life. Just like someone who can fly to space really well, so that’s an utopia for me.

I won’t say I’m doing something to achieve this utopia, I’m doing things that make the world a better place in my understanding. When I was young, I lived in an other country, which was way closer to an utopia than for instance here, in the capitalist world. Here, everything’s about money. This is the ideal over here. We had different ideals, in our society. For us, family was most important. Then it’s your friends, and money was just a tool to do favours to your family and friends. When I was young I tried to keep things like this, like I said before, I’m highly educated, not only in the technical field, so I tried to contact people from the government. Even over here I contacted party members a couple times and have sent them my advises. But of course, my opinion is very different from the capitalist opinion. In example, the socialist party. They are against the current liberal system, but even they aren’t really thinking in a socialistic way. Socialism is one of the closest things to an utopia, people are equal and have equal possibilities. They do what they can for society, and they get back whatever they want.

Of course I believe that there’s a place for everyone in my utopia, or in an utopia in general. In the entire world, even in the capitalistic system, there’s room for everyone. But also there are different kinds of capitalists, one of my examples I always bring up is Henry Ford. To me, he is the ideal capitalist. I’ve read his book, it was about 30 years ago, still in the Soviet Union. So to say, even in a communist country the book of Henry Ford was published. In example, he said, “I’ve got work for everybody”. In his factory there were people employed with only one leg or one hand, or blinds, or deaf. He said that even blind people worked for him. Everyone has a place in society. If people can’t work because of a certain illness or of old age, you can’t just throw them away. No, you’ve got to take care for those people. That’s society.”

I am Ger and I’m 61. Yes, I’m a quite simple inhabitant, working man, with a positive attitude to life and I try to get most out of life, which isn’t always easy. So yes, I’ve got quite a positive attitude. You know, that you have to be satisfied with the things you’ve got, and that there will always be something that you want to change, but that’s not always possible. And yes, that you’ve got to accept that, you can’t try at all costs to get what you want, that won’t always work. So, yes that’s more or less my point of view.

What I think of things that happen in the world,.. that everyone should have a good life in a way and still be accepted for who they are, despite that there are often different opinions and religions. Because I think that nowadays, there are a lot of things judged by someone’s religion, which I personally think is totally unfair. I mean, yes, we all think something sometimes of certain things, but I still think you should respect everyone’s point of view even if you don’t agree… because on the other hand, you expect the same from other people. That’s how I think about it, haha.

Yes I think it’s hard to explain. Yes, some views I have myself, they don’t match with someone elses’ views, but I think that the way things are going at the moment, besides that some people won’t accept each other, which we briefly discusses earlier, but the way it’s going now,.. yes, let’s keep it like this. I keep referring to the words ‘have respect for each other’. That’s very important to me. And so on, I never encounter something that happens against my will, something of which I think it should really be changed. I think it’s OK like this.

In my utopia there’s a place for everyone the way they are now. Well, I’m not taking direct actions or things like that, but I always try to approach the people who I encounter in a normal way, both in private as corporate situations. And if there’s a problem, we just talk to each other about it, instead of making a fight right away, and most of the times that’s the most ideal solution. Because we also have to deal with a lot of troubled youth according to the neighbourhood, but they never bother me. I just talk to those boys about their behaviour, they can do the same thing towards me, and well, if you can work things out like that, I think you’ve accomplished quite a lot. A lot of the time that happens as well. But yeah, you can’t really do a lot more as a small boy, I think. Well, the small parts are important as well, right?”

Well, you ask me to describe myself. I think that’s quite hard, because I don’t know how someone else will look at me. But how I view myself, yes, I’m a woman of almost 80 years old, widowed, I’ve got two children, three grandchildren, and some of them aren’t doing well, which I’m worried about. And I live in this appartment since eight years now, with great pleasure. I’ve lived here with my husband for more than two years, and… I love to walk and ride my bicycle, and swimming, but since I moved into this house I don’t have my own swimming pool anymore, so I stick to walking and cycling. I joined a cycling and walking club, Het Gilde Nijmegen, it’s a great thing for people that are alone. You encounter so many companions over there, and also people who have a great pleasure in helping each other. The warmth that you encounter over there, it’s a pleasure. That’s always on a Tuesday, and the Tuesdays are for me now what a Sunday used to be. Because the Sundays are there to be cut out of the week. They shouldn’t be there anymore for old people.

My outlook on life is that you have to be very aware that you’re not the only one on the planet and that you always have to be willing to help others, as much as you can, and I would like that all people who believe in a god will all start agreeing with each other on things. Because most wars are caused by differences in opinions about what a god would have wanted. And I don’t believe in such things, everyone has the right to believe whatever they want, but it would be nice that if they believe in a god, it would the same good creature, and not someone who incites to harm and kill others.

I think an utopia means a desire of people to an ideal situation. There are of course a lot of ideal situations you could think of, and the biggest ideal would be, like I said before, that all people more or less think the same way, but I’m afraid this will never happen because you’ll always have some people who try to spread their fanatism amongst others. Another thing, I’d really like that Drion’s pill would be really developed, and that everyone who wants to keep one on their nightstand, will be able to do so. And if you would want to use it one day or another, that’s that possible too. Maybe this will happen someday, but then you also have all those who believe in things, that certain things should be punished, but I still think Drion’s pill would be a blessing for humankind. Of course, when it’s realized, it’s not an utopia anymore.

People who know me will say, “Oh, there goes Truus again, with her political items”. I’ve made sure years ago that there’s a written statement of mine at my doctor’s office where I made my last whishes clear considering my irrevocably approaching death, to arrange things. And especially stating the things that I don’t want to happen. I do not want to be put in an elderly home, absolutely not. And if my life will become a certain way that I can’t walk or ride my bike again, and go out… then it’s worthless to me. Then I want to decide for myself when and how my life will end.

In this utopia there’s a place for everyone, because every person should have the same rights, and duties of course, but especially the same rights. And what kind of race or class you are or whatever, old, young, teens, everybody who’s life is becoming a living hell must be able to do something about that, with help, to end it if they want to.”