Looking back at IAM Weekend 17: A recap of The Renaissance of Utopias

IAM Journal
Published in
9 min readAug 28, 2017


Here we take a look back at the third edition of IAM Weekend, remembering the talks, panels, sessions, special projects, workshops and serendipitous moments in 10 acts that inspired a weekend of critical optimism about futures.

*** Save the dates for IAM Weekend 18: 27–29 April, 2018 in Barcelona ***


Act #1: The Warm-up

IAM Weekend 17 kicked off on a sunny Thursday afternoon with Building Utopias, an evening of photography, film and performance curated by Perdiz Magazine held at The Folio Club.

Browse more photos of ‘Building Utopias’ on Perdiz Magazine (Facebook page)

Photographers Dani Pujalte and Rita Puig-Serra and artists Carlota Guerrero and Mar Ordonez exhibited their brilliant, utopia-inspired work, with the evening acting as the perfect set-up to a similarly inspired weekend of reflection!

Act #2: The Opening Ceremony

The following morning, more than 300 attendees made their way to Barcelona’s dance house Mercat de les Flors for Day 1 of IAMW17, with IAM founders Lucy Rojas & Andres Colmenares welcoming everyone to Barcelona with a very particular call to action:

“let’s get political as we all got digital!”

Opening Ceremony of IAM Weekend 17. Browse more photos here

This set the stage for the rest of the weekend’s talks, workshops and installations, and speaking of stages, check out Reflected Behaviors, the very first ELISAVA Alumni Labs project for IAMW17:

As part of the ceremony, Andres also emphasised the power of utopian thinking (what if we all went on a click strike? 😉), and he was followed by a rousing tribute to Prof. Zygmunt Bauman by TASCHEN’s Executive Editor Julius Wiedemann, IAM’s Chief Artistic Officer, Sergio Albiac, who spoke to the importance of abstract thought, and Elise by Olsen, founder of Recens Paper, who called on the IAM Family to move away from nostalgia and invent our own futures:

Félix Magal (Museum of Internet), Amal Khalaf (Serpentine Galleries) and Omid Habibi (Shared Studios)

Act #3: Post-Contemporary

The first session was to be Post-Contemporary, and across the session questions of activism, community engagement and facilitating cross-border connections continually crept up. To begin, Félix Magal, founder and curator of the Museum of Internet, highlighted how memes can both unite and divide:

Omid Habibi, Portals Ambassador for Shared Studios, followed Félix by examining how we can build bridges across borders and communities, creating a network of shared humanity during these challenging times.

Amal Khalaf, Projects Curator at the Serpentine Galleries, then closed the session by exploring how the arts can provoke community engagement into questions of identity, asking “What is the sound of freedom, of citizenship? How do we reorganize the spaces of power?” To that end, she led a beautiful meditation exercise with the audience at the end of her talk, exploring collective citizenship…have a listen:

Act #4: Post-Work

The afternoon was kicked off by Albert Cañigueral, of Ouishare, outlining the new Digital Feudalism that arises from platform capitalism, and more importantly, how individuals and companies can respond.

Appropriately, SPACE10 followed this up by highlighting the ethical considerations of technological advancement as they launched their global project to democratise AI: Do You Speak Human?

Learn more about Do You Speak Human?, a research project by IKEA’s future living lab SPACE 10

Cecilia Tham, founder of Makers of Barcelona, highlighted the value in making and learning collectively in a post-work world, while Fernando Velázquez, Curator at Red Bull Station, closed the session by exploring how a brand like Red Bull investing in an ambitious, local creative and cultural centre in São Paulo can bring the surrounding community together.

Act #5: Post-Labels

Eliza Anyangwe, co-founder of The Nzinga Effect, began the final session of Day 1 by highlighting not only how African women’s stories are often unrepresented, but how we have a responsibility to go beyond labels when sharing these tales.

Xavi Rosiñol, a co-founding member of the Casa Nostra Casa Vostra pro-refugees movement, followed Eliza by highlighting the importance of sharing refugees’ stories, calling on us all to act (and do so now). Continuing the thread of breaking down barriers, Per Christiansen of momondo shared the story behind their moving campaign ‘The DNA Journey’ that deconstructs identities and borders to show how ultimately we’re all related.

Vanessa Wruble, a co-founder of the Women’s March and founder of Okayafrica, was next up and her reflective, expansive talk implored the audience to take back control in these challenging times and coordinate our collective response. We have to remember: “this is just the beginning.”

To close the day, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder of MuslimGirl.com, shared how she built the platform to give a voice to muslim women, and emphasised the importance of representation over visibility:

Browse more photos of Day 2 here.

Act #6: In Randomness We Trust

The second day of IAM Weekend 17 began with a screening of In The Same Boat, a further tribute to Prof. Zygmunt Bauman that examines the effects of globalisation in the world, followed by an opportunity for members of the audience to share their projects with the rest of the IAM Family, featuring Thomas Dahm, founder of Neon Moiré and Ronny & Maarten from Maatwerk

Crack Magazine’s Duncan Harrison then interviewed grime artist and Lighthouse Artistic Director Elijah, in an inspiring, broad conversation that covered questions of privilege, mental health in grime and cultural empowerment.

Elise by Olsen then returned with Morteza Vaseghi, Recens Paper’s Art Director, and was joined by Alexander Scholz (HOLO Magazine) and Julius Wiedemann (Taschen) to close the session with NEXTOPIA, a discussion on the role of nostalgia, innovation and critical optimism in defining our futures.

Act #7: Post Advertising

Involving and engaging young people in inventing alternative futures is paramount, and it was part of the ethos behind our recent collaboration with UAL Futures, a project orientated around harnessing the imagination and creativity of youth to address the world’s challenges.

Find more information about IAM x UAL Futures Studio here

All the way from NYC, Form& were next to the stage, sharing their insights on the role of branding in a hyperconnected, micro-utopian world. They also explored these ideas in MICROUTOPIAS, a site-specific, audio-visual installation created in collaboration with IAM, reflecting on how brands can cut through the signal to connect with consumers.

Finally, Ricarda Messner and Caia Hagel of SOFA magazine, together with the returning Vanessa Wruble and Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, hosted ‘Will U Still 💘 Me Tomorrow?’, a discussion about the power of influencers (particularly those who are marginalised) over brands, and the responsibilities those brands have to represent diverse voices when defining media and advertising narratives:

Act #8: Post-Reality

In the final session of the weekend we heard from Nathan Jurgenson, researcher at Snapchat, about the obsolescence of the digital/analogue division of reality and the prospects for AR (“reality has always been augmented”), followed by Ash Koosha, composer and futurist, speaking to the role of VR, AR and MR in redefining that very concept of reality.

This was followed by Fabbula hosting a panel discussion with Monika Bielskyte and Christian Cherene (BeAnotherLab) around the possibilities for immersive media technologies, before the imperious Bruce Sterling & Jasmina Tesanovic gave their sensational (tetris-fuelled!) closing act, sharing the evolution of their open-source FabLab Casa Jasmina:

Act #9: The Workshops

The final day of IAM Weekend 17 was held at ELISAVA, Barcelona’s leading design and engineering school, and featured 10 workshops & master-classes covering the democratisation of conversational interfaces, post-work working structures, breaking down social taboos, speculative storytelling and emerging trajectories in art, science and technology.

From left to right: 1) ‘Do You Speak Human’: workshop x RWATGG 2) HOLO Magazine Q&A 3) Speculative Storytelling workshop by LAVA Labs
Left: Caia & Ricarda (SOFA Magazine) leading the ‘Spin the penis’ session | Right: ELISAVA wall with the workshops list
From Left to Right: 1) ELISAVA Research workshop 2) Post-branding workshop by Form& 3) ‘Breaking the walls of your organisation’ by OUISHARE

Act #10: The Serendipity

As you may already know, randomness is better when shared IRL. And this was the mantra of the meet & connect breaks, official and unofficial parties and dinners that happened during the weekend, connecting internet people representing almost all continents and a fascinating mix of backgrounds, ages and organisations.

Browse more photos of IAM Weekend 17 here

And with that, IAM Weekend 17 had been and gone! After a weekend of new ideas, new people and community-filled love, Annelise Keestra and Rita Branco knew how we felt:

And as Crack Magazine describe, “this was a summit of optimistic explorers — a place for alternative ideas to be shared among those at the forefront of new technologies…figures from different worlds united by open dialogue.”

We’ll be diving into each session of IAM Weekend 17 in more depth over the next few weeks, but in the meantime, to all those who helped make it happen, and to you, the IAM Family, thank you, gracias, gràcies, and see you next year in IAM Weekend 18: The Subversion of Paradoxes!

The growing IAM Family! :)



IAM Journal

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