Looking backwards through history does not necessarily mean nostalgia. It can rather entail finding potential futures that never happened – contrafactuals – that were shed out by a certain form of “progress”. These are the words of German art historian Inke Arns on what she calls ‘Retro Utopia’. Retro-utopianism repeats the past – the avant-garde’s utopian ideas, in this case – extracting and extrapolating their potential for the future and carries out exactly what Gilles Deleuze has called a “substantial” repetition. According to Deleuze, a “substantial” repetition realises “still-due potential of the future tense” by updating an unrealised, underdeveloped intentionality founded in the past.
Felix Gmelin is a Swedish artist born in Germany living and working in Oslo. His methods of questioning the aestheticisation of politics through historical comparison have been seen in variety of art institutions and became available to wider audiences through exhibitions at PORTIKUS, Frankfurt a.M., ZKM, Karlsruhe, maccarone inc., New York, the 50 and 52 Venice Biennales and the berlin biennale 4. Since January this year he is Professor of contemporary art at KHiO, Kunstakademiet, Oslo.