Utopia?t - Stefaan van Biesen


U T O P I A [ just around the corner?] version I, II, III . .





'Today, in a world full of conflicts and shocks, art bears witness to the most precious part of what makes us human. Art is the ultimate ground for reflection, individual expression, freedom, and for fundamental questions. Art is the favourite realm for dreams and utopias, a catalyst for human connections that roots us both to nature and the cosmos, that elevates us to a spiritual dimension. Art is the last bastion, a garden to cultivate above and beyond trends and personal interests. It stands as an unequivocal alternative to individualism and indifference. It builds us up and edifies us. At a time of global disorder, art embraces life, even if doubt ensues inevitably. The role, the voice and the responsibility of the artist are more crucial than ever before within the framework of contemporary debates. It is in and through these individual initiatives that the world of tomorrow  takes shape, which though surely uncertain, is often best intuited by artists than others'.


[Christine Macel, director Biennale Arte, Venice 2017].




The 'Utopia Book' [Version I] : a first presentation by Annemie Mestdagh and a first walk in the city of Braga in Portugal, december 2016. Art work by Stefaan van Biesen. Transparent textile cover by Annemie Mestdagh.






Utopia Book [version III] a silent drift for three walkers or more. New York 01.11.2017.


This walk, some days ago in Manhattan, as a tender and slow gesture towards the city, suddenly moves into another perspective after the terrorist attack some hours ago in the same place that was walked. Sharing the images as a balm for a city where today pedestrians and bikers were savagely attacked.

With Freddie Dessau, Jose Ernesto Rivera Perez and John Gorgone, inhabitants of New York and students of the Studio Walking as a Practice at Parsons New York (lead by Lydia Matthews). 

A parallel / simultaneous action with Utopia Walk Brussels, with students of the Walking as a Research Lab at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts with Stefaan van Biesen, Annemie Mestdagh, Lydia Bollen and Alice Finichiu, as part of the Urban Emptiness Network.


A silent group walk, moving in a flow through New York City, departing from Gracie Mansion, with no other intention then to get lost, with a book, inspired by Thomas More's, but containing only one word, "Utopia".


It is a book that resembles a walk, it is not linear, it opens from different angles, it has pages folded in pages, you can open and browse it in different directions, not a book to be read, but a book to be shared spontaneously between the participating walkers, to be carried around in silence and to be opened on places that come towards them, as an inviting to open and read the place, the walkers and the moment in which they stand.

A silent walking performance by the Milena principle (Belgium) with Geert Vermeire (performance artist), conceived on the Utopia book by Stefaan van Biesen (visual artist), and together forming an artistic walking duo since 2001 developing in a collaborative practice. As a duo of walkers they invite guests artists and the public to perform with them in a continuous series of walking performances in contemporary cities around the world. Photographs: Freddie Dessau, Jose Ernesto Rivera Perez, Geert Vermeire, John Gorgone.






Presentation of the Utopia Book at Platform Projects [the Independed Art Fair] School of Fine Arts Athens 2018. Booth 29 the Milena principle. Curated by Artemis Potamianou (Moma NY & Tate London).


'Utopia (just around the corner). A silent group walk, moving in a flow through Nicosia, Brussels, NY City, with no other intention then to get lost, with a book, inspired by Thomas More's, but containing only one word, "Utopia".








A walking performance with a group of people [the Milena principle] Brussels Belgium. An exciting start of the Walking Lab Brussels as part of the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, initiated by Vermeire Geert in collaboration with Lydia Bollen (ARBA - Architecture School University of Mons), Alice Finichiu (ARBA - Urban Design / ULB University of Brussels) and Enzo Pezzella (artistic director ISAC - Higher Institute of Arts and Choreography) together with the Urban Emptiness Network.


Invited artists/researchers Stefaan van Biesen, Adonis Volanakis, Lydia Matthews, Marielys Lely Burgos, Stella Mygdali, Christos Kakalis.


From October till end of December: seminars, walks, talks, workshops, simultaneous with other Walking Labs in New York and Athens (Parsons - Fine Arts and Odeon - Conservatoire Athens), a creation lab and joint exhibition with CSCA Lab / European University Nicosia and Dance House Nicosia, Cyprus, with Sophie Gee and Arianna Economou.









U T O P I A [just around the corner] [ 2 0 1 7 ] .


A walking performance [the Milena principle] Nicosia Cyprus. Walks in Limassol and Nicosia

with Stefaan van Biesen, Annemie Mestdagh, Vermeire Geert and Marielys Lely Burgos.




[Utopia and walking] : a book and a place, about the word Utopia as a gesture, how books open, walking as being together and transformation of a space, being the place, about flow, exchange, drift as a method of letting people and the environment come to you. About playing the city, about change of perspective, about inner knowledge, words and nature, words as giving attention and carrying around the word Utopia, as a gift.










The Utopia Book. Helene Black [NeMe Arts Center in Limassol Cyprus] reading a book of longing [Utopia version II] during the Urban Emptiness Network exhibition at NeMe. Following on walks and interventions in Limassol and Nicosia February 2017. Curated by Geert Vermeire. Book and walks by Annemie Mestdagh, Stefaan van Biesen and Geert Vermeire. Video and camera by Stefaan van Biesen/the Milena principle.





Video talk between Stefaan van Biesen and Vermeire Geert about the work Utopia [Just Around The Corner?]. A drift for three walkers (or more), walks in Limassol-Nicosia and the related walking score, as part of the Urban Emptiness exhibition at NeMe, Limassol.


Walks in Limassol and Nicosia with Stefaan van Biesen, Annemie Mestdagh, Vermeire Geert and Marielys Lely Burgos.

Video in the house of Pandora in Limassol during Urban Emptiness Network at NeMe Art Center.





Installation in the Art Centre. Another version of an Utopia book with the registrations of a walk in Braga december 2016. A seminar at the University of Limassol about media, silence, walking/movement in urban space in relation to Urban Emptiness. Geert Vermeire moderating a conversation/presentation. A talk about your experiences within Urban Emptiness 2016 and possible future approaches.




[Urban Emptiness / Utopia] Exhibition Urban Emptiness Network. Presentation of the Utopia Book Nicosia, Brussels & New York. Académie de Beaux Arts gallery Brussels Belgium 2017.






[Hythlodaeus 2015] Utopia Sound Map : Cities and Memory ⋈ Oxford UK 2015.

Composed, mixed and produced by Stefaan van Biesen/the Milena principle 2015.


Making a soundscape 'Hythlodaeus 2015': during the Milena principle 'Sea Born' project in Venice 2015, Geert Vermeire and Stefaan van Biesen made field recordings in Venice and later in Antwerp. They used this digital material to make a soundscape for the Utopia sound project of Cities and Memory. The theme was the map of Utopia made by Ambrosius Holbein in 1518. The Milena principle soundscape created by Stefaan van Biesen can be heard on section C6 of the map on the website of



Soundscape 'Hythlodaeus 2015': texts 'Unfolding the City' by Geert Vermeire, 'Siren' by Stefaan van Biesen. Voice by Stefaan van Biesen. Field recordings by Geert Vermeire and Stefaan van Biesen.

© Stefaan van Biesen / the Milena principle.


CD 'Hythlodaeus' available on Band Camp: https://b-hive.bandcamp.com/album/hythlodaeus


On 22 May 2015, more than 50 sound artists and musicians from across the world will reimagine one of the greatest works of English literature, using sound.  The Cities and Memory: Utopia project creates something new from the words of Thomas More and the collective imagination of artists around the world – an entirely new Utopia of sound. Using a woodcut map from the second edition of Utopia  from 1518, sound artists each took a small section of More’s imagined country of Utopia, and created a new soundscape imagining how that place (and the society living in it) might sound. 

A free album of highlights from the project, entitled Utopia, will be released via




Stone plaque on the floor in front of the cathedral in Antwerp pointing at the meeting of Thomas More and the traveller Hythlodaeus in 1515 who told him about Utopia.






[Head Wanderer (XI) * A Mindset for 2 Globes] Opdonder4 Mercator Museum Sint-Niklaas Belgium > 25.05.2017.






[Hythlodaeus] soundscape & video ⋈ Opdonder Mercatormuseum Sint-Niklaas Belgium 25.05.2017.




video [20 min) during the performance: 'Hythodaeus-Mindset for 2 globes' 2017.


Presentation of video and soundscape for 'Opdonder' [an invitation by Johan De Vos and Eric Windey] in the space where two globes of Gerard Mercator [1512-1594] are shown.



Download pdf file Head Wanderer (XI) Mindset for 2 globes [download pdf file]



©stefaan van biesen-annemie mestdagh 23.06.2018