The Société Imaginaire is an informal, international organization, the purpose of which is to overcome cultural and geographic barriers to direct communication between artists and intellectuals around the world, and to foster development of an enduring sense of global community based upon the free, intellectual spirit.
The fundamental premise of the Société Imaginaire is that, in an era of mass culture and mass media powered by global transmission of information at light speed, genuine communication between individuals is diminishing. The result is growing cultural isolation and ignorance, which can become fertile ground for dangerously narrow, national sentiment in art and thought.
The Société was founded in 1984 by Batuz a Hungarian-born painter, who came of age in Argentina, lived in USA and then moved to Germany. The society has tried, through its efforts in the United States, Europe and South America, to create an international community of the spirit, where national cultural barriers are broken down by face-to-face meetings, correspondence and conversation among its members. The ultimate aim of this "imaginary society", a name coined by Mexico's Nobel Prize-winning writer and Société member, Octavio Paz, is to foster understanding, knowledge and creativity.
In conjunction with institutions such as the National Gallery of Art, Germany's Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Harvard Review, the Société has sponsored a number of significant exhibitions, publications and projects, such as the Correspondence Project that bring artists and writers from different countries together, and then compiles catalogues and archives the correspondence that later develops between them. The projects are supported by cultural institutions, governments, universities and private individuals.
The groups's approximately 500 members include leading writers, artists, scholars and statesmen from Europe, South America and the United States. Among them are American poets W. D. Snodgrass and Mark Strand; Julio Maria Sanguinetti, former President of Uruguay; Milan Uhde, former President of the Czech parliament; Stanislaw Baranczack, a leading Polish poet and professor of Literature at Harvard University, and Rudolph Sharping, former Head of Germany's Social Democratic Party.
The Société Imaginaire is organized and administered by the Batuz Foundation. Its funding comes from private donations. While it has no fixed headquarters, the Société is currently developing an experimental center at the Villa X in Germany as well as in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Perhaps the most apt description of the Société Imaginaire comes from Mark Strand, a former poet laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize winner, who wrote: "We live in an age that is increasingly complex but represented in ways that are alarmingly simplistic. Everything is reduced to a slogan, cliché, or newsbite. Anything more elaborate is mistrusted. Esthetic fundamentalism is taking its place beside religious fundamentalism: Stupidity flourishes. Enter: the Société Imaginaire. Committedly heterodox, and valuing above all the exercise of freedom, especially in ways as yet untested, it refuses definition. It is always being born, always in the act of becoming, and cannot be pinned down. In this it resembles most a work of art, but one in which we are offered the possibility of living."