Jump to content

Symposium: Reconstructing Utopia: Cinema, Performance, and Ex-Yugoslavia


This afternoon symposium offers insight into the creative process of Chicago's, Every house has a door, which is performing the piece Let us think of these things always. Let us speak of them never. at the MCA (February 9–13). The symposium invites participants to critically reflect on themes that the performance group's work shares with the genre-defying films of Serbian filmmaker Dušan Makavejev, which the group ha s used as one of the foundations for their recent theatrical work. In the 1960s and 1970s Makavejev's groundbreaking films revolted against the oppressive social and sexual mores that the socialist Yugoslav state espoused. Short presentations explore the themes of utopia, theatricality, the body, and the law; they also address the historical contexts of both and the value of experimentation.

After a twenty-year collaboration as cofounders of Goat Island, Lin Hixson and Matthew Goulish formed Every house has a door to create project-specific collaborative performances with invited guests. This company seeks to retain Goat Island’s narrow thematic focus and rigorous presentation, but to broaden the canvas to include careful intercultural collaboration, and its unfamiliar, even awkward, spectrum.


  • In her talk The Space Between What is and What Wants to Be: The Abandoned Practice of Utopian Thinking, Carol Becker discusses the value of utopian thinking in relationship to the current state of the world, and art making as an attempt to create a utopian location. She references Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud's debate on war and the thinking of Austrian-American psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich who influenced Makaveyev, and most recently the work of Every house has a door.
  • Justin Cabrillos, a writer and performance artist based in Chicago, responds to the work from the perspective of both a scholar and maker.
  • Stanford performance historian and theorist Branislav Jakovljevic contextualizes Let us think of these things always. Let us speak of them never. within cultural history of the United States and Makavejev's native Yugoslavia.
  • Lin Hixson, director of Every house has a door, talks about the creative processes involved in making of Let us think of these things always. Let us speak of them never. and some relevant contrasts and similarities between the years 1971 and 2011.

Presentations are approximately 25 minutes in length. An extended 45-minute discussion period with audience members and speakers close the symposium.

About the Presenters

Carol Becker is professor of the arts and dean of faculty at Columbia University School of the Arts. She is the author of several books and numerous articles. The most recent is Thinking in Place: Art, Action, and Cultural Production. Before joining the faculty at Columbia University, she was, for many years, Dean of Faculty and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Justin Cabrillos is a choreographer, writer, and performer. Drawing on elements of movement, performance art, poetry, and sound art, he investigates how alphabetic and gestural language shape the movements of the body. He is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Ox-Bow School of Art, and the Chicago Dancemakers Forum. Cabrillos was also an IN>TIME Incubation Series artist-in-residence at the Chicago Cultural Center and will be a 2011 LinkUP Artist at Links Hall. He recently collaborated with Every house has a door in a performance for artCENA in Rio De Janeiro.

Lin Hixson cofounded Every house has a door in 2008 and serves as its director. She is full professor of performance at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Hixson received an honorary doctorate from Dartington College in 2007, and was 2010 United States Artists Ziporyn Fellow in dance. Her writing on directing and performance has been widely published.

Branislav Jakovljevic is the assistant professor at the Department of Drama at Stanford University. He specializes in modernist theater and the avant-garde, and in his current research he focuses on the relation of the event to performance. His articles have been published in the United States and abroad (Serbia, Croatia, Spain, England, Sweden, Poland). His book Daniil Kharms: Writing and the Event was published by Northwestern University Press (2009). Branislav was awarded the Hellman Faculty Scholar Fund at Stanford (2009) and is the recipient of ATHE's Award for Outstanding Essay for 2008–09.


Let us think...is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by P.S. 122 with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Fusebox Festival, and NPN. Support is also provided from the NPN Forth Fund.