"It's not the story of the battle; it's the battle of the story!"
In the last few years we have witnessed how the corrosion of the three main modes of social imaginary that defined modernity – the market economy, the public sphere, and the self-government of citizens – has reached a critical point. As a result, the increasing number of people in different fields, social scientists, artists, public intellectuals, and activists are calling for rethinking and reinventing social change. Such voices, however, are too often fragmented in their respective boundaries, and, consequently, they have not yet been able to articulate a compelling alternative metanarrative that the public would identify with and which would thus result in a major positive change.
The project Cartographies of Hope: Change Narratives was born out of the sense of urgency and the effort to address this situation. It seeks to bring attention to this condition and to call for joint effort to identify alternatives we can agree. The premise of the project is that narratives of social imaginary play a key role in generating positive changes. Social change is always seen as a certain story, which then becomes an important driver of the change itself. This double function of reflection and agency constitutes a methodological core of the project.
The last couple of decades have been characterized by the dominant influence of neo-liberal ideology, notably by its narrative about the market mechanisms as natural principles penetrating all fields of social life, including education, healthcare, science, and art. The result is rising inequality, thinning social cohesion, and the fragmentation of polity. In this situation, to simply critique and historicize the neo-liberal system is not enough. We need to connect alternative narratives into a coherent whole – a metanarrative that would provide us with a sufficient social cohesion
on one hand and openness and hope on the other. The project Cartographies of Hope: Change Narratives comprises of an exhibition, two conferences, workshops, and discussions. Its objective is to map different narratives of social imaginary and to start connecting them to a coherent bigger story, as well as to develop networks and shared databases of individuals and institutions associated with those narratives on local and international levels. The exhibition is organized in several sections and subsections that represent diverse narratives of change, while their sum and sequence indicate a larger picture that may inspire thinking about a new metanarrative:
1. Multitude of social change (local and global, fast and slow, generational and inter-personal)
2. Crises (ecologial, financial and economic, political, moral)
3. Disrespect and protest (forms of disrespect: injustice, inequality, unfreedom, forms of protest, protest movements)
4. Social imagination (solidarity and participation, moral and political dimensions of economy, global respect and justice, humanity and nature)
The project is organized by the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague
in collaboration with the following partners: the Centre for Global Studies
in Prague, the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences,
the Council for Foreign Relations, Prague. Representatives of various NGOs
and social movements from the Czech Republic and abroad will also participate in the project.