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Approximations of Utopia

May. 31, 2024

Approximations of Utopia

Marco Brambilla

Queens MuseumArtnet

Guest Curated by Nato Thompson with Dreaming in PublicMarco Brambilla’s Approximations of Utopia presents a vision of a future world fair constructed from the archival images and AI technology, philosophically considering the nature of human hope  and notions of utopia by mining the ambitions of the past. Using AI-generated and archival imagery to conjure the architectural environments of six historic World Expositions—New York (1964), Brussels (1958), Montreal (1967), Osaka (1970), Seville (1992), and Shanghai (2010)—Approximations of Utopia assembles a new configuration of human wonderment through non-human technologies. Each architectural-algorithmic resurrection represents not only the spirit of that nation and society, but also the aspirational dreams and desires from that moment in time. The journey through these dynamic collages of the past leads the viewer to a yet unrealized Expo in the works, unbound from geography or time. This idealized speculation, like any utopia, is an imagined community and society of a future filled with the possibility of a meaningful, peaceful life and civilization.

Approximations of Utopia coincides with the Queens Museum’s celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair, titled Peace Through Understanding, that took place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The Unisphere, designed by Gilmore D. Clarke and donated by U.S. Steel, was the icon of the Fair and remains the world’s largest sphere. It featured three rings representing the space age achievements of Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, and Telstar 1, and stood as a monument to America’s success in the space race before Neill Armstrong’s moon landing. Corporate pavilions dominated the Fair, presenting innovations through educational demonstrations, theater, and exhibitionary displays. Ford’s “Magic Skyway,” for example, was a journey through Earth’s history, including animatronic dinosaurs and dioramas, and human evolution, viewed from inside a brand-new Ford Mustang on a moving track. Visions of cities, travel, and technology of the future were foundational for many pavilions, including those sponsored by General Electric, NASA, New York City, and Bell Systems, among many others.

Artnet’s co-presentation of Brambilla’s Midnight Moment in June marks the second iteration of an ongoing partnership that celebrates digital art in the heart of New York City.

AI services were provided by PHI Studio.

Marco Brambilla is a London-based artist known for his elaborate recontextualization of popular and found imagery, as well as his pioneering use of digital imaging technologies in video installation and art. Brambilla’s work has been internationally exhibited and is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum (New York); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; ARCO Foundation (Madrid); and the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington D.C). Notable shows include New Museum, New York; Santa Monica Museum of Art (Retrospective); Seoul Biennial, Korea; Broad Art Museum; and Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul; Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland, Le Centquatre-Paris in France. Brambilla has worked with Creative Time and Art Production Fund in New York to present public art installations, including his Nude Descending Staircase No.3 presented at the Oculus world trade center during Frieze New York. Notable collaborations include 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, an opera by Marina Abramović first presented at the Opéra National de Paris, France, Pélleas et Mélisande, presented by the Opera Vlaanderen in Antwerp, Belgium; and King Size, a 16k on 16k video collage first presented at the Sphere in Las Vegas. Brambilla is a recipient of the Tiffany Comfort Foundation and Tiffany Colbert Foundation awards.

Dreaming in Public brings magical thinking to our civic life. They curate, advise and strategize on making art an integral part of daily life.

The Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park presents contemporary art, events of hyperlocal and international impact, and educational programs reflecting the diversity of Queens and New York City. Changing exhibitions present the work of emerging and established artists, both local and global, that often explore contemporary social issues, as well as the rich history of its site. The Museum works outside its walls through engagement initiatives ranging from multilingual outreach and educational opportunities for adult immigrants, to a plethora of community led art and activism projects. The Museum’s educational programming connects with school children, teens, families, seniors as well as those individuals with physical and mental disabilities. The Queens Museum is located on property owned in full by the City of New York, and its operation is made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Artnet is the leading platform for the global art market, with journalism, insights and tools trusted to broaden the knowledge of professionals, private collectors and art enthusiasts alike. Artnet users and clients are able to navigate the art market with ease and, through its marketplace, buy and sell with confidence. Artnet provides users with the clearest picture of an ever-changing art world and is the leading global destination for art, with more than 60 million users annually.


Support for Midnight Moment is provided in part by the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and the Times Square Advertising Coalition.

Midnight Moment is made possible by the Times Square Advertising Coalition, ABC SuperSign, American Eagle, Branded Cities, Clear Channel, Coca-Cola, Diversified, Express, Heritage Outdoor Media, Levi’s, LG, Line Friends, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Midtown Financial, Morgan Stanley, New Tradition, Outfront, Paramount, Prudential, Sensory Interactive, Sephora, Sherwood Equities, Show + Tell, Silvercast, Swatch, TSX, and T-Mobile.

Source: Times Square Arts

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