UTOPIA 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility celebrated the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s inspirational text. A year of artists, designers, provocateurs and thinkers experimenting with ways we might live, make, work and play.
An Invitation to Dream
UTOPIA 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility at Somerset House celebrated the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s inspirational text and was the largest ever celebration of this radical work anywhere in the world. Spanning the realms of art, literature, fashion, design, architecture and film, it featured a varied programme of special events, exhibitions and new commissions across the Somerset House site and beyond. The Utopia Treasury, in Somerset House’s Great Arch Hall invited people to explore, taste, and imagine utopia.
Thomas More was the first to give a name and form to an idea that has captured the human imagination throughout history: that by imagining a better world is possible, we are empowered to create it. His playful vision, published in 1516, presents an ideal society living on a fictitious island, described in a traveller’s tale. More’s Utopia is deliberately ambiguous, the Greek words on which the name is based mean both ‘no place’ and ‘good place’. It is not a blueprint for the future; instead he places importance on the process of dreaming in the now. To celebrate More’s vision, UTOPIA 2016 explored challenges facing contemporary culture and society, and the pivotal role of the arts and culture in creating a space where dreams can take root.
UTOPIA 2016 was a collaboration between three neighbours: Somerset House, King’s College London and the Courtauld Institute, in partnership with the British Library, the AHRC, Guardian Live, London School of Economics and Political Science, Verso, the British Council and engaged many of the 300 plus creative organisations, artists and makers resident at Somerset House.