Perspective: Different Utopias by Isabella Lo

 “Whatever strangeness there may be in modern times in opposing philosophy to poetry, which to us seem to have so many elements in common, the strangeness will disappear of we conceive of poetry as allied to sense, and of philosophy as equivalent to thought and abstraction. Unfortunately, the very word ‘idea,’ which to Plato is expressive of the most real of all things, is associated in our mind with an element of subjectiveness and unreality” (Plato, The Republic).

This quote by Plato which pertains to the idea of subjectiveness and unreality is a focal point of this exhibition. The items chosen were chosen with the idea of Utopia meaning something different for everyone. No two people can have the same Utopia, no matter how similar.

For example, there are those who argue that Albert K. Owen’s utopian ideas are similar to those of Edward Bellamy, the author of Looking Backward. However, their backgrounds and their environments could very well bring about ideas that differ in what they deem as a utopia.

The items chosen each show different perspectives on what utopia may have looked like to different groups at the time. To be clear, these artifacts do not only show different ideas, but also different realities in Topolobampo. Each artifact speaks from the abstract, the concrete, and the historical contexts that may have been erased.

Through using the methodology of critical imagination, as defined by Jacqueline Jones Royster and Gesa E. Kirsch, “as a tool to engage, as it were, in hypothesizing, in what might be called ‘educated guessing,’ as a means for searching methodically, not so much for immutable truth, but instead what is likely possible, given the facts in hand” we can begin to potentially uncover histories that might have been erased had we not taken the change to look at these artifacts through a lens of perspective (71).

To clarify, this collection stands as an exhibition to showcase the possibility of what some may have seen, lived, and experienced as a utopia. Through research and archival work, these pieces come together to tell a narrative of what was expected, what happened, and what the culture of different utopias looked like from their point of view. These pieces in the Topolobampo collection play as puzzle pieces which, contribute to a larger picture of whether or not the concept of a utopia is possible to carry out or if utopia staying as an abstract idea would be better due differences in what utopia is for everyone.