About the exhibition

The notion of 'utopia' is largely derided in contemporary discourse as it is seen to be naïve, anachronistic and unfashionable. the utopian zeal that dominated much of the radical thinking of the 20th century has crumbled into the ruins of neoliberal late capitalism. Concepts of 'utopia' and its inverse 'dystopia' have been a mainstay of science fiction and fantasy since the inception of these disciplines and, according to the American literary theorist Frederic Jameson, the very idea of utopia is itself a sub-set of a wider genre that has become science fiction. The utopian tradition persists at the fringes of many contemporary forms, in writing, the fine arts, architecture, and video games. Moreover, some of the most radical, provocative and beautiful architectural proposals of recent times are to be found in the realms of science fiction and fantasy cinema, computer games and speculative visualisations.

The exhibition Persistence of Utopia was part of the Cosmia Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction Festival which was organised in venues across the Kirklees region. To explore an expanded notion of 'utopia' as well as questions of its endurance as an idea. The Persistence of Utopia exhibition included works in a variety of media by Stella Baraklianou, Nic Clear, Claire Diggle, Danilo Di Mascio, Donal Fitzpatrick, Roddy Hunter, Marko Jobst, Spyridon Kaprinis, Sara Nesteruk, Hyun Jun Park, Christian Petersen, Andrew Taylor, Katrina Whitehead and Simon Woolham. This selection was made from works submitted following an open call by Professor Nic Clear and Cosmia Festival Director David Smith.

About the selectors

David Smith is the Director of Cosmia Festival which launched in 2019. The Festival is the first of its kind in the UK, using multiple artforms to celebrate, interrogate, explore and showcase its passion for science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction.

Professor Nic Clear is a qualified architect, writer and curator, and Head of the Department of Architecture and 3D Design at the University of Huddersfield. He is also Co-Director of the Advanced Virtual and Technological Architecture Research Group (AVATAR). He was Professor of Architecture and head of Department of Architecture and Landscape at University of Greenwich. Professor Clear joined the University of Greenwich in 2011 having taught at the Bartlett School of Architecture for over 20 years, where he was programme director of MArch Architecture. He was also history and theory co-ordinator of the Master's in Architectural Design, and has taught in the UK, Europe, US and Canada. In 2015 he was the Inaugural Professor for Research in Visionary Cities at the Institute of Fine Arts in Vienna.

The work Professor Nic Clear has developed is unique within architecture and architectural education due to the way film, video, animation and motion graphics are utilised to generate, develop and represent architectural and spatial practices. This work has an extensive reputation and has been shown at international film festivals across Europe, Asia and the US. He has written extensively on science fiction and architecture, and produced a number of speculative projects that propose architecture 'as' science fiction. He has designed and curated a number of critically acclaimed exhibitions, and his own work has been exhibited internationally.