UTOPIA / dystopia

Directed by John Malpede

UTOPIA/dystopia, seeks to find out how flesh and blood people living and working downtown envision the future of downtown and what kind of downtown they would like to be a part of.

April 19, 2007: Is It A Crime To Be Poor? – ALOUD series at the Central Library.
May 29: UTOPIA/dystopia discussion at UCLA’s Kerckhoff Art Gallery.
June 21: 7 Glimpses of Utopia at The National Center for the Preservation of Democracy.
July 26: Glimpses of Utopia 8 – 15 at The Red Dot Gallery.
September 20: Glimpses of Utopia 16 – 23 at the Historic Fire Station Old 23.
October 25: Glimpses of Utopia 24 – 30 at The Red Dot Gallery.
November 16: Glimpses of Utopia 31 – 37 at The Church of the Nazarene.
November 16: “220 Glimpses Of Utopiaan Outdoor Utopian Movement Chain.
December 6 – 9, 2007: Performances at REDCAT theater.

About the Project

UTOPIA/dystopia is a series of performance, public art and conversation events that look at the present and future of downtown Los Angeles, with the recognition that one person’s Utopia might have the unintended — or rationalized — consequence of contributing to the realization of another person’s dystopia.  A way to avoid “rationalized” ill effects, is first-hand experience.


“220 Glimpses of Utopia” an Outdoor Utopian Movement Chain.

In a series of workshops LAPD asked 220+ people from in- and outside Skid Row what Utopia looks like to them. Each group translated these visions into slow motion movement and together they created a line of movement on the sidewalks that extended the 10 blocks from the heart of Skid Row to City Hall.

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UTOPIA/dystopia @ REDCAT Theater

December 6, 7, 8, 9: ‘UTOPIA/dystopia’ performances at the REDCAT theatre in downtown LA at 631 W. 2nd Street.

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Building the Project

One person’s utopia is another’s dystopia. In the past 40 years civic policy in Los Angeles has generated the twin towers of utopia and dystopia: Bunker Hill, the redeveloped high rise financial center, and below it Skid Row. The real estate boom has generated new social policy, including the desired displacement of the majority population of poor people living in the area. The other LAPD, in defiance of the 9th Circuit court of appeals ruling barring the criminalization of homelessness, has engaged in a policy of constant harassment and daily arrests of people living on the streets. All to make the area safe for development.
What is the vision for downtown Los Angeles?  A powerful urban core that will dominate the city in the future is taking shape.  But, what shape? Will the “new urban lifestyle” be an upscale urban monoculture?  Or is city life at it’s core about embracing and celebrating an unpredictable, dynamic, socio-economic mescla. City or McCity, that is the question. “The Future” is being painstakingly crafted, created and promoted by a coalition of development and civic political interests: the City Fathers who know best.  UTOPIA/dystopia, project activities will engage long standing and new area residents, (including homeless and formerly homeless residents of Skid Row, the working poor, immigrants and their families and the area’s burgeoning loft-living population) to inform and broaden the public discourse, through strategic public art actions, and convenings.

Panel Discussions

* April 19: ALOUD series at the LA Central Library; a panel discussion on the subject “Is it a crime to be poor?”

* May 29: UTOPIA/dystopia discussion at UCLA’s Kerckhoff Art Gallery.

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37 Glimpses of UTOPIA

LAPD members were asked to identify and invite someone “who you think is doing something that is contributing to creating the kind of neighborhood you would like to live in?”  Inviters and invitees come together to create a kaleidoscopic picture of utopian possibilities downtown.

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change X change

LAPD’s 3-week workshop in art and social change for performers, other artists, students and people working for social change.

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Community Partners

The UTOPIA / Dystopia Project involves a number of community partners including, The National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), the LA Central Library, the Department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA, United Coalition East Prevention Program (UCEPP), Central City Community Outreach, LA Community Action Network (LA CAN) and SRO Housing, Inc.

Project Funders

The UTOPIA / dystopia Project is made possible with the support of: the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, The Multi-Arts Production Fund of Creative Capital with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Animating Democracy Initiative of Americans for the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts-Theater Program.