Review: And Tomorrow And, Artforum (2018)

Sonia Leber & David Chesworth, Universal Power House: In The Near Future, 2017, HD video, stereo, 16:9, 12:30 minutes.

Critics Picks

And Tomorrow And
August 25 – November 25

Imagining future dystopias is easy. So is applying the Anthropocene as an all-encompassing, monolithic framework for describing various complex environments in the present. Instead, this group exhibition takes on the more demanding challenge of exploring contingencies of the potentially haphazard, entangled, and unevenly applied futures that we are generating.

With this show, the institution has moved for the first time beyond its traditional exhibition model to operate temporarily as an education and research platform. What began as discussions with Swedish teenagers about the future resulted in a formal ten-day course this past summer in the space itself, with participants who had applied via an open call. Scattered throughout the Index gallery is an archive of the resulting pedagogical source texts, providing a DIY syllabus (from natural science to high theory, including books by anthropologist Anna Tsing on ecology and Karen Barad on physics) for approaching the networked materiality of our future present.

The accompanying film program, though, is the real draw: a loop of eight short films that all in some way approach the form and aesthetics of futurism as a practice. The films range from profoundly spiritual meditations, such as Jess Johnson and Simon Ward’s Webwurld, 2017, a 3-D model animation of sci-fi creatures that resemble postmodern mandalas; to outright satire, with Sonia Leber and David Chesworth’s very funny Universal Power House: In The Near Future, 2017, in which young actors read a real 1970s futurist manifesto, reveling in the inherent campiness of the genre. The strongest films offer speculative fictions that intervene directly in cultural history, such as the collective Soda_Jerk’s episode of Astro Black, 2010, which splices footage from multiple film sources to create a narrative in which Sun Ra is a colonizer of our moon. In this vision, thinking our way forward involves literally rewriting origin stories.

— Monica Westin

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