40 Years Longo Maï
The Utopia of the Unruly
February 23, 2014 – March 23, 2014
Opening: February 22, 2014, 5 p.m.
Exhibition with objects from the cooperatives, a utopia “wishing tree,” video installations, audiovisual stations, noontime talks, and guided tours.
The exhibition, which is based in the present day, shows the cooperatives’ current existence as lived critique of commodity society, which has produced an independent arrangement for living. The exhibition is organized into four thematic fields that cover the most important areas of Longo maï, preparing them in a way that is attractive for visitors. Since the cooperative cannot be grasped without knowledge of its more than forty year history, historical objects are exhibited in all thematic fields.
Within the individual stages, fascinating developments can be seen, thus clarifying the transformation of the cooperative over the past decades. This representation gives rise to a comprehensive portrait of the self-governed cooperative Longo maï. Conceived as a classical museum exhibition, numerous original objects will be shown, including cinematic documents, posters, and albums from the past as well as recent photographs and objects from the cooperatives, interviews with members of Longo maï, and documentaries. Closeness to the people who make up Longo maï is necessary for drawing a sophisticated portrait of the cooperatives.
The exhibition does not simply offer a look at a quasi-hermetic experimental model, but instead, invites visitors to actively contemplate the possibilities and borders of this lived experiment. Nonetheless, the show does not offer any ready solutions for society as a whole, but instead, stimulates visitors to pose their own questions. The concept and staging are laid out as a dialogue.
The exhibition concept is by Palma3, under the guidance of Andreas Schwab, Bern, in collaboration with Longo maï.
“The Utopia of the Unruly,”
…or what happens when thirty young people drop out in order to assemble another world.
The Longo maï cooperatives were created after the student movements from 1968. Today, they form a network of self-run agricultural and arts-and-crafts cooperatives throughout Europe that attempt to bring together, on the one hand, people without land, and on the other hand, land without people.
In December 1972, when young people from several European countries came together in Basel at an international congress, no one could imagine what would develop over the course of forty years. The demands made at the time—all European countries should offer up a few square kilometers of land in under-developed, economically and socially at-risk regions for youth groups to build self-run collectives—shapes the core idea and concept that is still shared by many people today. The pioneers of the past sought a different path for confrontation. They developed their vision of solidarity-based communal life and a different form of economy. In April 1973, thirty young people from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and France went to the Provence to create the first cooperative on an abandoned 300-hectare property. They called it Longo maï (in Provencal dialect: “long may it last”). In 1974 they announced their project to the general public in of Basel, where they had first come together, by hosting a large festival on Münsterplatz, with the help of “all of Basel.”
The Basler artist Celestino Piatti supported Longo maï back then at this festival with a lithograph, which decorated the façade of the Longo maï club house in Basel last autumn: the symbolism on the lithograph represents the spirit of Longo maï now as before: unruly, maladjusted, and curious. Forty years later there are nine further cooperatives in various European countries and in Central America. Each one arose from the same basic idea, showing that the original idea is still topical. For forty years, Longo maï has founded self-run cooperatives on the basis of solidarity, agriculture, and arts-and-crafts.