HOW TO IMPLEMENT UTOPIA
soloshow at CasaAtelier/Museion
curated by LOTTOZERO
BozenBolzano, Italy, 2019
produced with support from OCA
HOW TO IMPLEMENT UTOPIA
Curated by Alessandra Tempesti
In Margrethe Brekke’s artistic journey, the hang glider is an anchoring element for a numerous series of projects, workshops and collaborations that have led the Norwegian artist to incorporate urgently current themes in her work, such as climate change and the need for renewable energy sources. In particular, her textile installations reveal her interest in Airborne Wind Energy, which utilizes wind energy through flying devices such as drones or kites. In these installations, she initially played with the form and meaning of the kite, and later with its more technological evolution represented by the hang glider, the first device to grant humankind flight, transforming utopia (and hybris) into reality.
While in her 2015 project titled Utopia500 (created for the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s philosophical novel Utopia), these aircraft were post-apocalyptic objects with precarious structures and torn sail surfaces, now several years on, the artist creates true hang gliders, with the technical collaboration of Icaro 2000, an Italian leader in the sector.
The project How to Implement Utopia has resulted in the creation of two hang gliders. One was conceived as a flying sculpture and public artwork, and will be used for the entire summer by the Garda Flying Paradise flight school on Lake Garda, tracing the ideal connection between eco-philosophical thought (theorised in Norway in the ’70s by philosopher and mountaineer Arne Naess) and the Alpine landscape around the South Tyrolean capital.
Margrethe Brekke’s work consisted of designing the decoration of the sails, in a combination of patterns and ornamental motifs hand painted on Dacron fabric. The artist used the 17 colours documented in the “Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development”, drafted by the United Nations in 2016, associated with the 17 objectives that need to be achieved in the next fifteen years, through a program of action that establishes a series of crucial objectives for humanity and the planet. Instead, other formal elements that make up the decoration, such as the concentric circles and linear trajectories that branch off from them, are the graphic translation of a series of mathematical data and calculations related to other extremely significant projects in the field of sustainability research (Drawndown and Solar Impulse 21).
The artist’s language is abstract, passing through a fascination for Bruno Munari’s research and recalling the simultaneous circles of Sonia and Robert Delaunay at the dawn of Modernism in the early 1900s. The works then become a coded manifesto of contemporaneity, a programmatic plan of action that must be shared in order to be effective, a necessary and indispensable commitment, and yet dramatically utopian.
In this sense, the Agenda 2030 document, poetically transposed by the artist into the chromatic palette of the hang glider, can also be understood as a tool to achieve a realisable utopian goal, considering utopia as a means rather than an end, according to the thesis of English sociologist Ruth Levinas2, who is placed at the foundation of a constructive imagination for society.
Utopia is by definition a place that doesn’t exist, but designed as a map of what’s on the horizon, it can generate the potential for change.
The hang gliders that make up How to Implement Utopia are titled respectively The Next Great Acceleration Hang Glider 1 and 2. They were both designed and created by the Italian company Icaro 2000, which is located in the Varese province and is the premier hang glider construction company in Europe, known today throughout the world for its high-quality productions that combine design, craftsmanship and advanced aerospace technology. Their creation was made possible thanks to the coordination and supervision of Christian Ciech, engineer and hang glider developer for Icaro 2000, as well as a pilot and world hang gliding champion.
In the year of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, the Norwegian artist decided to present two hang gliders within the project for Museion. These works recall the genius of the Florentine master, who designed a very early model of a hang glider among his many plans for flying machines. But at the same time, they also highlight the underlying ambivalence of the myth of flight, which on one hand embodies the human ingenuity that over the last five centuries has led to an acceleration of technical achievements and scientific discoveries, but on the other is a sign of that arrogance that perhaps finds it most current counterpart in the ecological crisis of our times.
While the first hang glider, constricted and almost trapped within the spaces of the Casa Atelier, is itself a reference to a tragic impossibility of flight, the second can instead fly for the entire summer in the skies above Lake Garda, not far from the South Tyrolean capital, since it has been made available to the students of the Garda Flying Paradise flight school, a tangible sign of aerial activity, albeit improvised and unpredictable, which hopes to redirect our gaze and thoughts towards a utopian, but possible, future.
Special thanks to Christian Ciech (Icaro 2000) and Ignazio Bernardi (Garda Flying Paradise).
Alessandra Tempesti, curator
1 The first is a study conducted by scientists, researchers, companies and entrepreneurs from all over the world, aimed at identifying a series of strategies and solutions to combat climate change, ordered from 1 to 100 based on their reduction of CO2. The term drawdown alludes to the moment in which the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begin to reduce, proposed as the objective to achieve by 2050. “Solar Impulse 2” is the name of the first solar energy powered aircraft which has managed to circumnavigate the globe without fuel. The flight was achieved in 17 legs between 2015 and 2016. The company Icaro 2000 designed and produced Solar X, the model of helmet used by the pilots of Solar Impulse 2.
2 Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society, Ruth Levitas, Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2013.