Utopia Project 2010: Utopia & Nature

International Residency Programme organised by the Athens School of Fine Arts in collaboration with the Slade School of Fine Art & The Utrecht School of Art.

Based on H.D. Thoreau's “Walden

Utopia as an expression of unlimited imagination and desire is a concept that has always fascinated artists. Art can see in utopia a means to lift the restrictions of reality and accomplish the free expression of its visions. Starting from this connection and its various instantiations in the history of art, this workshop deals with the multiple significations, implications and dimensions of utopia. In everyday discourse the term ‘utopia’ is usually connected with an ideal future, with what seems impossible within the confines of reality, and is thus bound to create margins for many and often contradictory interpretations. Utopias are the places of dreams and hopes for a better life, which provide an escape from an always incomplete and constraining status quo. Sometimes they involve grandiose metaphysical schemata, other times they take the form of ephemeral shelters distanced from detailed sociopolitical reflection. Always, however, their creation is based on the criticism of established (political and aesthetical) institutions and social structures. Inspiring antithetical political and artistic practices, praised but also criticized, utopia has been a focus of debate for many disciplines and approaches. By blending theoretical discussion, aesthetic reflection and the artistic work of the participants, this workshop aims at critically exploring the various interconnections between theory and praxis, vision and reality, desire and finitude, utopia and dystopia.
In this workshop we will research methods and tactics and we will ask from the students to collect material or to archive material that they already have and reconsider it, to think alternative ways of presentation of materials, ways of incorporation of them in their pictorial language. The aim of the workshop is to exhibit the results of this research, the ideas or the work that will come out of it.

This year’s workshop investigates the relationship between contemporary artistic practices and the natural environment. Art is often seen and spoken in terms of being environmental, critical and subversive. For the past decades, the natural environment has seen radical changes and has been at the forefront of many contemporary art projects. What is the relationship between art and nature? During the workshop, we will consider different ideas in contemporary art making and theory to examine from varying perspectives the question of art and nature.


Utopia Project is an international program organized by Asfa. The residencies take place in the annex of Asfa in Rethyno Crete every July for about 20 days. Asfa provides a range of accommodation listings and arranges a special group rate at a student hotel each summer as well as student travel and city guides.

The annex is uniquely placed on the top of Evligias Hill in Rethymno, 15 min walk from the center of the old historical town. Daily bus schedule links Rethymno to the airports of Chania and Heraklio.