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Magazine

12 December 2013
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How do we want to think about the future

Paloma Checa


Dissident Futures is a choral display of imaginings about the future. It can be visited until 2 February 2014 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. With work by 19 artists and various talks and performances programmed in parallel, it constitutes an invitation to reconsider the desires that we project onto the future, with a bit of a critical spirit.

In the heart of a city articulated around the developments of the industries of Silicon Valley, where one breathes in an unconditional enthusiasm for the effect that the brains of Google et al are already having on the lives of its citizens, it seems more than pertinent to stop and think about the real effects that this technological surge will actually have, beyond the oasis of the bay.

The curator of the show, Betty-Sue Hertz, wants to provide the public with a selection of pieces that present, in principal, critical images of the future. However, the selection of works doesn’t manage to lend form to such a stance. Voices that really question the blind wager on technical virtuosity are hushed by the recreation with technical aesthetics represented by others. Worth highlighting are the video Popular Unrest, by Melanie Gilligan (2010); the enormous watercolours by Dan Mills, Quest (2012); Infinity Engine, the body prototypes by Lynn Hershman (2013); and Kempinski (2007), one of the ethnographical science fiction documentaries by Neil Beloufa.

The endeavour of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to sow the seed of doubt about the responsibility entailed by the compulsive lucubration over the future, in the heart of SOMA in San Francisco, is deactivated by the strength of the hegemonic gaze that articulates life in this city. To raise eyebrows one has to act with a bit more force.

Paloma Checa-Gismero is Assistant Professor at San Diego State University and Candidate to Ph.D. in Art History, Criticism and Theory at the University of California San Diego. A historian of universal and Latin American contemporary art, she studies the encounters between local aesthetics and global standards. Recent academic publications include ‘Realism in the Work of Maria Thereza Alves’, Afterall, autumn/winter 2017, and 'Global Contemporary Art Tourism: Engaging with Cuban Authenticity Through the Bienal de La Habana', in Tourism Planning & Development, vol. 15, 3, 2017. Since 2014 Paloma is a member of the editorial collective of FIELD journal.

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