by Sukanya GargMay 23, 2019
Refiguring the Future was organised by Eyebeam and REFRESH in collaboration with the Hunter College Art Galleries. It was a new exhibition and conference offering a politically engaged and inclusive vision of the intersection of art, science, and technology.
Curated by REFRESH collective members Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Dorothy R. Santos, the exhibition title was inspired by artist Morehshin Allahyari’s work defining a concept of “refiguring” as a feminist, de-colonial, and activist practice. Informed by the punk ethos of do-it-yourself (DIY), the 18 artists featured in Refiguring the Future deeply mined the historical and cultural roots of our time, pulling apart the artifice of contemporary technology, and sifting through the pieces to forge new visions of what could become.
Refiguring the Future brought special attention to populations that have been historically marginalized including women, trans and cisgender, people of color, LGBTQ+ and disabled artists from around the globe. REFRESH, in collaboration with Eyebeam included community-based and site-specific projects, a gallery exhibition, and a host of public programming, bringing together a constellation of venues and organizations across New York City.
The exhibition presented 11 new works, and alongside re-presented immersive works by feminist, queer, decolonial, anti-racist, and anti-ableist artists concerned with our technological and political moment including: Morehshin Allahyari, Lee Blalock, Zach Blas, Micha cárdenas and Abraham Avnisan, In Her Interior (Virginia Barratt and Francesca da Rimini), Mary Maggic, Lauren McCarthy, shawné michaelain holloway*, Claire and Martha Pentecost, Sonya Rapoport, Barak adé Soleil, Sputniko! and Tomomi Nishizawa, Stephanie Syjuco, and Pinar Yoldas.
Following the public reception on February 8, 2019, Refiguring the Future opened with a two-day conference highlighting over 20 speakers and workshop leaders, including featured keynote presentation by Simone Browne (University of Texas at Austin), who traced Black women’s creative engagement with surveillance; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (Princeton University), who examined the politics of social liberation movements; and Zach Blas who uses queer and feminist methods to speculate on digital alternatives.
The Refiguring the Future conference convened artists, educators, writers, and cultural strategists to envision a shared liberal future by providing us with collective imaginings that move beyond and critique oppressive systems to offer alternative possibilities.
Refiguring the Future was supported by grants from the Open Society Foundations and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as part of NetGain. Additional support for the presentation of Refiguring the Future at the Hunter College Art Galleries was made possible by the David Bershad Family Foundation, the Susan V. Bershad Charitable Fund, Inc., Carol and Arthur Goldberg, Agnes Gund, Joan Lazarus, and the Hunter College Foundation.
The exhibition ran from February 9 to March 31, 2019.