FUTUREPROOF at Haverford’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery Explores Our Present by Interrogating How We Imagine THE FUTURE
Artists, writers, inventors, moviemakers, militaries, and think tanks have long tried to predict coming technologies or foresee catastrophic events — not merely for entertainment’s sake, but to prepare for possible outcomes, quell anxieties, or gird against tragedy. Shell Oil even has a “Scenarios” team, founded in 1965 and still working today, whose job is to explore “possible versions of the future by identifying drivers, uncertainties, enablers and constraints, and unearthing potential issues and their implications.” A new exhibit at Haverford College‘s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Futureproof, gathers work from contemporary artists on this theme with real-world images and archives from governmental and corporate scenario planners to explore how we have imagined and continue to imagine different futures.
In engineering, industrial design, and architecture, “futureproofing” typically refers to creating something in a way that minimizes or slows down technological obsolescence. Futureproofing methods are often reflective of people’s anxieties, aspirations, and assumptions about the present, sometimes acting as self-fulfilling prophecies. In this sense, they recall another form of proof—proof as mathematical argument, defined by a series of accepted axioms and truths. The artists in Futureproof engage with the many malleable interpretations of futureproofing, drawing from both the legacy of military and corporate scenario planning and the use of semi-fictionalized artifacts or archives as “proof,” or evidence, of alternate timelines or futures yet to come.
So, a 1991 in-house film on climate change produced by the Shell Corporation will be shown alongside a multi-faceted installation by Ilona Gaynor (“Everything Ends in Chaos”), featuring 2D and 3D objects with video in a piece that deconstructs corporate risk assessment. The Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History, which foresees that the detention facilities in Cuba have been closed and replaced with a museum that reflects on Guantanamo Bay’s social and political significance, will be represented, as will images and archival documents from Cybersyn Project, the real-life cybernetics economy-management operation of Salvador Allende’s Chilean government.
In a time when each day seems to bring a new cascade of political uncertainties, when every “now” is assumed to be “more than ever” and every crisis feels more unmanageable than the last, Futureproof encourages viewers to interrogate the fraught systems of the present moment and imagine how they might be otherwise.
Futureproof is curated by Ingrid Burrington and features the work of Morehshin Allahyari, Salome Asega, Gui Bonsiepe and the Cybersyn Project, the United States Department of Energy, Ilona Gaynor, Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde, Shell Corporation, and The Guantánamo Bay Museum of Art and History. Futureproof is supported by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities.
Futureproof will be on view Oct. 27 through Dec. 17, at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. On Friday, Oct. 27, to celebrate the show’s opening, there will be a talk by curator Ingrid Burrington at 4:30 p.m. followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m. An associated screening of Peter Galison and Robb Moss’s film Containment will take place Nov. 29, at 7 p.m., in the Visual Culture, Arts, and Media building’s screening room. For details and additional related events: exhibits.haverford.edu/futureproof.
Overseen by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and located in Whitehead Campus Center, the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesdays until 8 p.m. For more information, contact Matthew Seamus Callinan, associate director of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and campus exhibitions, at (610) 896-1287 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the exhibitions program website: www.haverford.edu/exhibits.
Haverford College is located at 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, Pa., 19041
Thank you to Rebecca Raber for the content of this post.
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