‘Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future.’
So starts point number three of the Auroville Charter, the principles of an ambitious international community founded in 1968 in South India. In Auroville, people of all nationalities and creeds would live together in peace, an experiment both in self-knowledge and in collective living. In Auroville, new relationships were to be plotted between people, nature and time.
Today more than 2,000 people live in the city; Christoph Draeger and Heidrun Holzfeind have investigated the origins of the Auroville project and visited the city to see if that bridge to the future became a reality. Faced with today’s individualism, political crises and environmental ruin, it can be difficult to maintain a positive outlook. Auroville’s founders looked forward with confidence. Have these ideals of common ownership, of life-long learning and of research survived? Are Auroville residents as enthusiastic now as they were in the 1960s? Back then, they designed utopian living environments that reflected their visionary ideas; were these indeed a blueprint for new forms of community living?
Draeger and Holzfeind’s publication COMME-CI COMME-ÇA [The Auroville Project] is a scrapbook-like presentation of their initial findings from archival research, observation and interviews with current Auroville residents. This is the first published facet of an evolving work which also includes video, photography, sculpture, living plants and a group exhibition titled “Re-imagining Utopia”.
Christoph Draeger (b. 1965, Zurich, Switzerland) and Heidrun Holzfeind (b. 1972 in Lienz, Austria) are both established artists whose works reflect their socio-political engagement in the world that surrounds them. They have collaborated on two previous long-term projects: “Tsunami Architecture”, a major video work commissioned and shown by the OK Centrum Linz, which has also been exhibited at CACY, Yverdon-les-Bains; and “Arquitectura Contemporanea”, which was exhibited at Tamayo Museum in Mexico City.