Altaplana, world of Francois Schuiten and Benoit Peeters

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Formas ideais: imagens da utopia em La fièvre d’Urbicande

Essay by André Cabral de Almeida Cardoso.

La fièvre d'Urbicande, a comic strip drawn by François Schuiten and written by Benoît Peeters, revolves around an inexplicable phenomenon: the appearance of a structure formed by hollow cubes which reproduce themselves and grow to cover the imaginary city of Urbicande, planned according to the utopian vision of a rational, beautiful and symmetrical city.

This three-dimensional network-like structure ends up deeply affecting the lives of Urbicande's inhabitants and puts into question the authoritarian government that controls them. By transforming the ways in which the city's inhabitants live together and establishing new connections between them, the mysterious structure can be seen as the embodiment of an alternative utopian desire, which is configured as an excess in relation to the city's prevailing order.

The network is essentially ambiguous: at once artificial construct and living organism, solid and intangible, it presents itself as an object of undefined meaning that establishes connections and promotes circulation, approaching contemporary visions of post-humanist utopias. On the other hand, it preserves humanist values, such as the notion of the essence of a human spirit. This article discusses the tensions generated by the confrontation between these two visions that the narrative of La fièvre d'Urbicande attempts to reconcile, and their relationship with more traditional utopian projects.

Download the essay in Portuguese