It’s hard to explain the affection I feel for Utata — for the community itself, for the staff, for the members, for the very concept of Utata as a place where intelligent, creative people from all over the globe gather to chat, argue, and shoot photographs. We often refer to Utata as a tribe — a neo-tribal virtual collective that’s held together by kinship. But this isn’t a kinship based on consanguinity; it’s a kinship of attitude and spirit and intelligence and exceedingly varied interests.
I feel especially affectionate toward Utata today. That’s partly because today is Labor Day in the U.S. Ever since 1894, the first Monday of September has been a day set aside to acknowledge and honor the economic and social contributions of workers. At least in theory. In reality it seems as if the United State no longer honors men and women who perform labor — only those people who make money off those who labor. So on this day I’m reminded how very special are the men and women who volunteer their time and labor to make Utata work. They don’t get paid, they take some dull and grinding chores upon themselves, they sacrifice their leisure time — and they do it all simply to create and maintain a venue for other folks to be creative. That’s what we do.
This is the other reason I’m feeling affectionate about Utata today: we’ve released our summer project: Just One Thing. It’s a perfect example of what makes Utata unique. The concept is simple: focus creative attention on one thing (or one type of thing). It might be a specific lawn chair moved from place to place in an Austrian town, or a wildly re-purposed red high heeled shoe, or a woman holding a variety of umbrellas, or a selection of grey post boxes in Canada., or a look at the world deliciously inverted through a glass apple, or the assorted old stuff found jammed in the hollow spaces of an interior wall and uncovered during home renovations.
It’s an odd collection, to be sure, but perfectly in keeping with the sensibilities of Utata. Beyond the obvious conceptual theme, one of the things that holds this project together is a generous sense of wit and whimsy. You will smile as you look through these photographs. And you will have thoughts you’ve never had before. That’s what we do in Utata.