Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), San Francisco, CA, United States18 Oct 2013 - 02 Feb 2014
Dissident Futures is an investigation into possible alternative futures, particularly those that question or overturn conventional notions of innovation in biological, social, environmental, and technological structures. Either through active engagement with future studies or through intuitive investigation, the artists and designers in Dissident Futures envision a future that expands beyond our conventional expectations.
Loosely structured around three thematic strands—the utopian, the speculative, and the pragmatic—the exhibition furthers our understanding of how artists are addressing potentiality and the unknown, from the most desired future to the most feared. Basim Magdy’s sequenced slide projection featuring spectral images of the volcanic region of Spain’s Lanzarote island as a possible future memory, David Huffman’s paintings of wandering traumanauts, Melanie Gilligan’s experimental multi-episode science fiction drama where personal needs are inextricably linked to exchange value, and Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen’s object designs that maximize the movements of individual factory workers are examples of how this exhibition resets possible ways to approach the future.
Dissident Futures explores a series of fundamental questions: How do artists imagine and question how power links innovation and the future when considering wide-ranging shifts, from biological expansion to space technology? How can artists’ empathetic approaches to curiosity and doubt contribute to the larger field of future thinking? What do artists contribute to envisioning real and speculative futures?
The exhibition features an international roster of artists working in video and film, photography, painting, installation, sculpture, and performance, who engage wide-ranging topics including: the occult, science fiction, and outer space; afro-futurism; architecture and the environment, technology, the nature of human feeling, and language; mapping and atemporality; and post-apocalypse scenarios.
Participating artists are: Neïl Beloufa, Heman Chong and Anthony Marcellini, Peter Coffin, Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen, Brody Condon, Future Cities Lab, Melanie Gilligan, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Shane Hope, David Huffman, Paul Laffoley, Basim Magdy, Dan Mills, The Otolith Group, Trevor Paglen, Katie Paterson, Kamau Amu Patton, Connie Samaras, and Cauleen Smith.
Dissident Futures is curated by Betti-Sue Hertz, YBCA’s Director of Visual Arts. It is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue edited by Betti-Sue Hertz and Ceci Moss, YBCA’s Visual Arts Assistant Curator.