We dreamt of utopia and we woke up screaming. ‘On Air’

The curatorial project We dreamt of utopia and we woke up screaming researches the little known archive of the Radiodiffusion television algérienne that voiced the struggles, hopes and plans for possible other futures of the emerging ‘Third World’ of the 60s and 70s. It aims at creating an artistic platform for the production of alternative knowledge and narratives by reactivating the ‘Mecca of Revolution’ Algiers was at that time.

While the western world is commemorating the 500 years of the publication of Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’, one often forgets that in the Sixties and Seventies, clusters of utopias emerged from the ‘peripheries’ of which Algeria was the epicentre. A third way, possible and alternative futures were dreamt, devised and conspired by the national movements of liberation, political exiles and militants, rebels and disillusioned westerners from all the continents hosted in the Algerian capital, dubbed the Mecca of Revolution by Amilcar Cabral. Remembering how the voice of the Revolution was initially hosted in Cairo, Tunis, Damascus, and Nador, Algiers equally offered to these groups a regular slot on its newly created national radio.

The archive of Radiodiffusion télévision algérienne (RTA) is indeed a privileged witness of the original ideas and ideals that We dreamt of utopia and we woke up screaming proposes to reactivate, not only as an attempt to amend an imbalanced history of ideas by giving a voice to otherwise invisible actors, but also to regain agency and empower our capacity of action in the present. The project exists as a complementary ‘museum’ to the newly launched Museum of the radio. It metaphorically uses the radio genres/formats and waves as the theatre for collaborators to engage with the sound archive and develop multiple happenings and actions in Algiers. Although it admits failure of the political utopias of the 20th century, it instead unveils untraditional and unique networks. Together we will return to the historical turning points, reopen the futures of the past covered by the polyphonic and polyglot programmes aired by the RTA in an attempt to speculate on other outcomes of the great events of global history and tackle our present incapacity to imagine new utopias.
Conceived by curator Yasmina Reggad and accompanied by Rhizome, this curatorial research welcomes contributions from academics, arts practitioners and cultural agents from Algeria and abroad. The project will be articulated in a way that reflects the spatiality proper to the radio genre: one doesn’t know with precision the location of both the transmitter and the receiver. And in the precise case of the radio of the liberation movements based in Algiers in the Sixties and Seventies, it blurs the dichotomy passive/active, while constituting a reminder of the hospitality of Arab countries. In this first phase, ‘On Air’, We dreamt of utopia and woke up screaming. ‘On Air’ will include the access, evaluation and initial study of the sound archive, in addition to experimenting with speculative performative methodologies developed by social scientists in order to trial different ways to reactivate the archive.

all projects

Project Atelier Observatoire

Collective Cinema / Neglected Cinema

Project Cercca
Platform HARAKAT
Beyond Qafila Thania
Project Le18
Project Jiser
Project Maison
Valise pédagogique / Mallette pédagogique
Project Rhizome
We dreamt of utopia and we woke up screaming. ‘On Air’
Project Ramallah

research (soon)

the partners

LE 18