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Alternative Worlds

Blue-Sky Thinking since 1900

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Edited By Ricarda Vidal and Ingo Cornils

In an attempt to counteract the doom and gloom of the economic crisis and the politicians’ overused dictum that ‘there is no alternative’, this interdisciplinary collection presents a number of alternative worlds that were conceived over the course of the last century. While change at the macro level was the focus of most of the ideological struggles of the twentieth century, the real impetus for change came from the blue-sky thinking of scientists, engineers, architects, sociologists, planners and writers, all of whom imagined alternatives to the status quo.
Following a roughly chronological order from the turn of the nineteenth century to the present, this book explores the dreams, plans and hopes as well as the nightmares and fears that are an integral part of alternative thinking in the Western hemisphere. The alternative worlds at the centre of the individual essays can each be seen as crucial to the history of the past one hundred years. While these alternative worlds reflect their particular cultural context, they also inform historical developments in a wider sense and continue to resonate in the present.
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10 Growing up in the New Age: A Journey into Wonderland?

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‘Growing up in the New Age’ is the title of a multidisciplinary artwork exploring my parents’ experiences as part of the countercultural movement of the 1960s and 1970s and my own childhood growing up in this context. Created in 2011–12, the project interweaves photography, creative texts, archival materials, objects and video. Shown as a touring exhibition and also in published form,1 it seems to have the capacity to re-invent itself, each time growing and developing, in organic, fluid ways. In this essay I would like to explore the way in which my work as an artist allows me to re-trace, reflect and re-visit aspects of my past, drawing together my own personal experiences with wider social and historical happenings, acting as both a personal album and a social document.

I was born in a communal squat in South London in 1974 and my parents and I lived in co-housing for many years. I attended Kirkdale free school and lived what might be considered an alternative, even ‘countercultural’ existence. However, I experienced all of this as a child, unquestioningly, living day to day as children do. As an adult, I became very curious about the background to the way my parents had chosen to live. Looking at the historical and social changes taking place in the 1960s and 1970s and seeing my parents’ choices against the backdrop of a cultural movement has allowed a re-positioning of my own experiences and an invaluable opportunity to revisit...

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