[-empyre-] [–empyre–] Refiguring the Future, Week 1: Exhibition as Ecosystem

Lola Martinez lola.martinez at eyebeam.org
Wed Mar 6 04:27:32 AEDT 2019

First and foremost, many thanks to Sarah for inviting me to
co-moderate and to Renate who gave us this platform to continue our
conversations around Refiguring the Future.

As the Eyebeam/REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow, I am involved
in most aspects of Refiguring the Future, from assisting with the
exhibition to co-curating the conference alongside REFRESH member
Maandeeq Mohamed and organizing public programming.

Refiguring the Future’s overarching frameworks and thematics have served
as a departure point for my thinking around these various components,
particularly in the conference which expanded upon the ideas
interwoven in the exhibition. The Refiguring the Future conference
acted as a platform for collective engagement, which brought together
an array of artists, educators, writers, and cultural strategists to
envision a shared liberatory world-building politic. By generating a
speculative space which went against technological forces, we asked
what possibilities could arise when accelerating technologies are
paused and world-building is privileged anew?

During my initial engagement with Refiguring the Future, I was drawn
to ecological concerns through the works of Abraham Avnisan, micha
cárdenas, and Claire and Martha Pentecost. The exhibition speculates
that, “to refigure the future requires acknowledging our existence in
an unsustainable present.” Claire and Martha Pentecost‘s young adult
novel, "The Spirit the Water Bear",  a 15-year-old activist urges her
community to acknowledge the devastation already caused by climate
change in coastal South Carolina. In Sin Sol, micha cárdenas and
Abraham Avnisan use augmented reality to allow gallery visitors to see
from the perspective of a transgender Latinx artificial intelligence
character as they navigate a landscape transformed by climate change.

These artists provided a starting point for research which led to a
panel discussion, Symbiotic Ecologies. The discussion was prompted by
narratives of colonial legacy, migration, and extinction which have
shifted our cultural imagining of ecologies. Beginning by
acknowledging our existence in unsustainable climates, this panel
brought forth artistic and activist practices which provoke and foster
symbiotic relationships, for new understandings within environmental
predicaments. Participants included: Sofía Córdova, who complicates
narratives on the athropocene through science fiction; Jaskiran
Dhillon who foregrounds the leadership of Indigenous youth at Standing
Rock in the struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline; and Sofía
Unanue on the La Maraña collective which dared to imagine a
community-driven alternative to Puerto Rico's future in reaction to
the bleak aftermath of hurricanes Irma and María.

To learn more of the conference and view video documentation:

On Mon, Mar 4, 2019 at 10:27 PM Sarah Watson <sarahawatson at gmail.com> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Since "Refiguring the Future" opened on February 8 at the Hunter
> College Art Galleries' 205 Hudson Gallery, I have more or less been
> living with the exhibition: turning it on and off, tending to
> misbehaving technology, spending focused time with each work, and
> caring and tending to the show. Having this sustained time in one of
> our exhibition is rare. Usually the shows goes up and then I have to
> turn my attention to the next exhibition. This constant pace of
> exhibition making can sometimes feel like being on a hamster wheel.
> I'm sure others who work at small or perhaps not so small institutions
> can relate to this feeling.
> In part, I am afforded the opportunity to spend so much time in
> "Refiguring the Future" since I am teaching a Graduate Curatorial
> Methods course centered around the exhibition. As a class we meet,
> discuss, and move through the show every Tuesday afternoon. The class
> is an experiment, as I have never structured a curatorial class within
> an exhibition––both thematically and physically.  It is through this
> ongoing time in "Refiguring the Future" that I started to think of the
> exhibition as an ecosystem.
> Taking this week to focus on the creation of this ecosystem, we have
> invited the co-curators of "Refiguring the Future" Heather
> Dewey-Hagbog (US) and Dorothy R. Santos (US) to share how the idea for
> "Refiguring the Future" came to be and how certain works and artists
> influenced the curatorial direction of the exhibition and conference.
> Together we will think on what shifts when we identify the exhibition
> not as static, but rather as an evolving complex and interconnected
> system.
> Heather Dewey-Hagborg
> Dr. Heather Dewey-Hagborg is a transdisciplinary artist and educator
> who is interested in art as research and critical practice. Her
> controversial biopolitical art practice includes the project Stranger
> Visions in which she created portrait sculptures from analyses of
> genetic material (hair, cigarette butts, chewed up gum) collected in
> public places. Heather has shown work internationally at events and
> venues including the World Economic Forum, the Daejeon Biennale, the
> Guangzhou Triennial, and the Shenzhen Urbanism and Architecture
> Biennale, the Van Abbemuseum, Transmediale and PS1 MOMA. Her work is
> held in public collections of the Centre Pompidou, the Victoria and
> Albert Museum, and the New York Historical Society, among others, and
> has been widely discussed in the media, from the New York Times and
> the BBC to Art Forum and Wired. Heather has a PhD in Electronic Arts
> from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
> Dorothy R. Santos
> Dorothy R. Santos is a Filipinx American writer, curator, and
> researcher whose academic interests include digital art, computational
> media, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco,
> California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology
> from the University of San Francisco and received her Master’s degree
> in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts.
> She is currently a Ph.D. student in Film and Digital Media at the
> University of California, Santa Cruz as a Eugene V. Cota-Robles
> fellow. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Rhizome,
> Hyperallergic, Ars Technica, Vice Motherboard, and SF MOMA’s Open
> Space.
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu


Lola Martinez | they/them

Eyebeam/REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow


Visit Refiguring the Future: Exhibition Feb 8 - Mar 31

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Suite 104
Brooklyn, NY, 11206

M. +1 305 586 4728

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