In these hectic times, we are inundated with scenarios of the future, some of which are extremely positive, others extremely gloomy. With the exhibition SO FUTURE, we acknowledge this, but we do not intend to be caught up in doom and gloom or simplistic utopian dreams. Images of the future form the basis of our actions. How we shape these images is therefore of the utmost importance. In the end, it isn’t about what kind of future we can expect, but about what kind of future we want.
The exhibition includes work by Isabelle Arvers, Jeremy Bailey, Constant, DISNOVATION.ORG, Femke Herregraven, Viviane Komati, Amor Muñoz, Sabrina Ratté, Jonas Staal i.c.w. Jan Fermon, Stanza, Ivar Veermaë and ViaOral.
visions of the future
In SO FUTURE, popular, often purely economically driven visions of the future are ignored and the focus lies instead on alternative ways of thinking about today and tomorrow. Political scientist Merijn Oudenampsen has already observed that a lack of a clear and prosperous future perspective is a problem for progressive groups and parties. Without a clear goal or outlook, criticism of contemporary policies only feels negative and unproductive. In addition, unwritten media laws dictate that sensational and controversial news be endlessly repeated and regurgitated, a practice that ensures unbridled attention for irrational disseminators of fake news and conspiracy theories and the unthinking adoption of ‘predictions’ from the Big Tech business world.
Jonas Staal and Jan Fermon, Collectivize Facebook: A Pre-Trial, 2021, Theater Rotterdam, produced by HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin. Photo: Ruben Hamelink
We live with such an abundance of flawed views and perspectives that the general public is increasingly distancing itself from politics and reality, a development perfectly illustrated by the rise of memes, the social media format par excellence. The meme culture is toxic in a way, because every subject is approached with irony. Memes are the ultimate post-modern weapon. They can lead to a dangerous void, but also represent a potential tipping point.
Breaking new ground
The exhibition title SO FUTURE is based on the super-ironic doge memes, in which a Japanese dog rolling its eyes seems to be highly surprised about something. In bad English, the dog’s thoughts appear in these memes, for example: SO ART, much inspiring, WOW…. In SO FUTURE we look with the same mildly ironic detachment at the range of doom and utopian futures that are held up to us by all sorts of prophets. The exhibition shows how artists experience the ambitions of mega-corporations such as Amazon and Facebook, what initiatives there are to counter them, and shows how we can take new directions by looking and thinking differently now. We take a step back from the torrent of predictions that surround us, to consider where we actually want to go, and how we might get there.