Karina Kottová with Markéta Magidová and Martina Smutná
What forms of family and community life are presented in utopian and sci-fi literature? Many of the key feminist sci-fi works from the 1970s until today depict alternative visions of society based on community relationships, sharing, and sustainability. Nuclear family and gender stereotypes are a thing of the bygone past there. In the current era, which is calling for deep social and environmental transformation, these “models” have become more realistic. The division line between utopia and dystopia may be thin though. The chapter is curated by Karina Kottová in collaboration with artists Markéta Magidová and Martina Smutná. Loosely based on Marge Piercy: Woman on the Edge of Time, Ursula K. Le Guin: The Dispossessed, and Octavia E. Butler: Xenogenesis.
An excerpt from Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time: “Then this kid isn’t really your child?” “I am Innocente’s mother.” “How can men be mothers! How can some kid who isn’t related to you be your child?” She broke free and twisted away in irritation. The pastoral clutter of the place began to infuriate her, the gardens everyplace, the flowers, the damned sprightly looking chickens underfoot. (…) “It was part of women’s long revolution. When we were breaking all the old hierarchies. Finally there was that one thing we had to give up too, the only power we ever had, in return for no more power for anyone. The original production: the power to give birth. Cause as long as we were biologically enchained, we’d never be equal. And males never would be humanized to be loving and tender. So we all became mothers. Every child has three. To break the nuclear bonding.”
Markéta Magidová, in creative collaboration with curator Karina Kottová, French artist and 3D animator Sybil Montet and musician and producer Ai fen created a short sci-fi film for the Utopian Family chapter. It depicts an imaginative ritual celebrating the transformation of the patriarchal world and its representations into a society based on feminist values. The film is set in an abstracted mountain range in the middle of the desert where historical monuments of family relations meet in timelessness. Delegates from the future, liberated from physically determined reproduction and stereotypical roles, are transforming these residues of gender determination. The materiality of the sculptures is changed and denied, the figures free themselves from their fixed forms and create alternative situations and groupings. They emancipate themselves, breaking the seriousness on which the civilization of their ancestors was based. The society of empathy, care and closeness is the new utopia. However, by its arrangement, it inadvertently creates another normative.
Martina Smutná created a series of paintings with the common denominator of family bonds as mirrors of social and cultural norms as well as fragile layers of family symbiosis and mutuality. A functional family based on equal relations and emotional satisfaction is often more utopian in today’s society than bizarre sci-fi scenarios. By depicting a mother and a child with identical faces, Martina Smutná addresses the issue of the generational transfer of traditions and the preservation of “sameness” which is the goal of conservative politics. However, the painting can also be seen as a portrait of a woman who does not lose her sexuality due to motherhood. On the contrary, by mirroring herself in her daughter, she discovers unexpected pleasures. The second painting of a mother embracing her adult daughter accentuates the moment of mutual support, a two-way flow of information as well as complex emotions. Healing these fundamental relations could be the key to the visions of a future society that does not stick to existing hierarchies and cultural and biological “predetermination”.
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