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Week 27: 10 March 2012

Tim Etchells

Artist, writer and leader of Forced Entertainment

A utopia of dispute might be better

Dear Citizens of Nowhereisland

as we stop in the shelter of a doorway in the thunderstorm
S. holds out his hand to check the rain.

The hand. The flatness of it. The open-ness. The question of it. The directness. The simplicity. The pragmatism. The straightforwardness. The sunshine.

And maybe just the repetition of this gesture, which must be as old as the hills, as old as the co-presence of hands and rain.


Just a few thoughts concerning the island.

Please let it not be that utopia with doves and waterfalls and soft white clothes and doors that open as soon as they are approached
and please let it not be that utopia with all in harmony and accord
and please not that utopia of agrarian fantasy, with all of us in touch with or at peace with the land, working the land together or weaving together in some endlessly temperate and agreeable climate, caught in simple pleasures, eating simple wholesome food
and please – just as strongly, please – not that techno utopia where no one works at all
since the machines – ever more clever, resourceful and skilled – are doing everything, hidden in basements, miniaturized or concealed behind the walls
and please not that morbid utopia that so many churches speak of or hope for or promise, but only come the day, meaning after death
and not that utopia of absolute freedom or that of total equality
or that of the flattening of creeds, races, genders and all that into one single humanity or brotherhood
and not that utopia of original ignorance, Adam and Eve, the nakedness that is not nakedness no thank you
and not that utopia of free love
or boundless and open desire
or that hallucinatory psychedelic utopia of the human dissolved into the universe
and not that utopia of the virtual, with its useless pretended transcendence of flesh and biology
and again please, not that utopia of endless oneness and endless accord
not likely peace, or everlasting peace
not likely peace at all
and not the satisfaction of all desires
and not the exhaustion of all need
and please not an end to difference
no to the utopia determined by sense
no to the utopia determined by utility
no to the utopias of knowledge, understanding, and progress
please not the uniformity of consent
or that of placidity
no to the erasure of anger
please not the utopic reduction of human space to that of a prison in which all needs
have been anticipated, prescribed, provided for
please not the reduction of everything to the realm of the solvable
please not some temperate climate of banality cotton-woolled and perpetuated ad
not late-capitalist laissez-faire bliss
not communistic brotherhood
not either theocratic order
or rationalist decency
not some medicalised or genetically modified utopia in which all personalities and physicalities have been balanced, remixed and extended forever in a calculation of chemicals and genes
please not the utopia of the old and wise
and please not that utopia of the young and the carefree
not men and women in accord with each other in all the possible combinations,
or mankind so called at accord once again with ‘the animals’ so called
no, not equality
nor comfort
nor acceptance
not even tolerance
we'll have none of it
a utopia of dispute might be better
a utopia of permanent contestation
anger and the unruly

but not even those will satisfy

let’s have instead the utopia which resists all names,
refuses all belonging
refuses all place, definition or affiliation
not for us that which can be dreamed or imagined, described or spoken of
and not for us anything that can be caught in the noose of 26 letters (called an alphabet)
and hanged
not for us what is offered
not for us what is given
not for us what is promised
not for us what is even possible
not that
not anything of it
but everything, everything which is other than that

friends, fellow citizens, acquaintances, enemies 
i look forward to our eventual meeting,
and to your full adoption of these
my most reasonable demands

Tim Etchells



Tim Etchells

Tim Etchells is an artist and a writer based in the UK whose work shifts between performance, visual art and fiction. He has worked in a wide variety of contexts, notably as the leader of the world-renowned performance group Forced Entertainment. He is currently Professor of Performance Writing at Sheffield University.

For more information visit: and

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Nowhereisland is a Situations project led by artist Alex Hartley, one of 12 Artist Taking the Lead projects for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad funded by Arts Council England. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of the West of England, Bristol; Bloomberg; Nicky Wilson Jupiter Artland; the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Yellowbrick Tracking.

Identity designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio and Wolfram Wiedner, website by Wolfram Wiedner.