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Technical crew (with Tshirts); Marietta biscuits and Lincoln Creams (also Bourbon Creams and other chocolate things); smoked glass; institutional carpets; plastic clip name tags; the reading of scripted, and sometimes poorly prepared papers; Times New Roman; office blinds; exhausting/ exhausted building. Overall, maybe not what I expected a utopian studies conference to look like, which was a bit silly of me.

There were however two individuals who caught my eye: an older gentleman who pursued his needlepoint patiently, and with good progress, through every seminar I attended with him; and a boy, maybe not quite a teenager, who stayed close by his academic father’s side, a newish Huxley clutched in his hand.

It seems utopianism is a thing to be played close to the chest – maybe it is at large within the population to a greater degree than I suspected.

Protest is Beautiful, FREEE, 2007

This year is the fortieth anniversary of the student protests and worker strikes that marked 1968. Given contemporary art’s current fascination with tropes of re-enactment and restaging as ways of addressing past political moments and unrealised opportunities, it seems likely that these events will be re-looked at this year.

I discovered recently, quite by accident, that one of the students I lecture in my history of visual culture class attended the same art institution I did, then at a different location, in 1968. It struck me as uncanny, that I am in a position of lecturing such a person about the situationists. Me, who was not even alive in 1968, and she, who actually participated, if only tangentially in the events of time.

I carried out a short interview with her, extracted below, that touches on some of these ideas about memory, particularly its possibiltites and overlaps with fiction. This will likely develop into a more substantial piece of work in the future… many thanks to Linda for her time and conversation.

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July 2020