The idea of the future, pregnant with an infinity of possibilities, is more fruitful than the future itself, and this is why we find more charm in hope than in possession, in dreams than in reality.Henri Bergson
What can speculations on the future tell us about the priorities of the present and the demands of past?
Future Imperfect brings together an international line-up of artists, writers and cultural practitioners to consider ways in which artistic practices can help inform and shape collective futures. Through performances, interviews, panel discussions, and a screening programme, contributors will highlight how present histories and institutions are being shaped through propositional speculations on the future.
10.30–12:30: Propositional futures
Living in the shadow of an apparently unending 'war on terror', the far from resolved global financial crisis, ongoing uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, and ubiquitous systems of connectivity and surveillance, it would seem that the future – constricted by the all too immediate challenges of the present – is not what it used to be.
This panel will explore what is at stake in articulating propositions on the future? What kind of language can be used to describe the as yet unknown ways of being in the future? Why do we rely so much on future orientated goals rather than the realities of the here and now? And finally, why the future is not what it used to be?
10.30 – Welcome: Kamel Lazaar10:35 – Introduction: Anthony Downey and Nora Razian10.40 – Performance Lecture: Raqs Media Collective 11.05 – Keynote lecture: Douglas Coupland11.30 – Conversation: Todd Reisz12.00 – Discussion and Q&A with audience (Moderated by Anthony Downey)
12.30–13.30 – Lunch break
13.30– 5.15: 1967/1968: What was lost?
The events of 1967 still resonate across the Middle East and beyond. In June of that year, the so-called Six Day War, or an-Naksah ('The Setback'), heralded an end to a number of things: the nationalist ideal of Pan-Arabism, the political will towards more open societies, economic growth, and the nascent cultural dispositions that marked the 1960s. One year later, in 1968, a revolutionary politics emerged in struggles against dictatorships, state repression, and colonization, across the United States, France, Mexico, Brazil, Northern Ireland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Spain, and Germany.
In terms of a global historical consciousness, the events of 1967 and 1968 had a significant impact; however, their legacy has arguably waned in the wake of decades of under-development and repression in the Middle East and, coextensively, the ascendancy of neo-liberalism. Nevertheless, 1967 and 1968 have recently re-emerged as problematic cornerstones for uprisings across the Middle East, since 2011, and anti-capitalist movements around the world, provoking in turn a singular question: what was lost in the idealism associated with the period of Pan-Arabism and the radical politics of 1968? And what do those losses tell us about the apparent social, political and cultural impasse that marks the present and the future?
13.30 – Introduction: Omar Kholeif13.35 – Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige in conversation with Anthony Downey14.00 – Propositional Futures I: Tony Chakar14.25 – Lecture: Tarek El Ariss14.50 – Discussion and Q&A with Audience (moderated by Omar Kholeif)
15.15 – Coffee break
15.30–17.30: Structural futures: where to now?
The future, as Louis Althusser once observed, tends to last a long time. The possibilities associated with it often remain unrealized and this can be, under the compromised conditions of modernity, a conceptual necessity: the future must always remain in the future. However, for possibility to become potential and be realized over time, both within cultural practices and institutional contexts, infrastructure needs to be in place.
This panel will discuss what a future arts infrastructure might look like across the Maghreb region, to begin with, and how the role of artists and institutions could change in a global context. What, we will ask, will a future audience look like and how will culture continue to not only negotiate public space, civil society and institutional practices, but promote the sustainability of the future as an ideal?
15.30 – Introduction: Anthony Downey15.35 – Panel Discussion: Zineb Sedira, Abdelkader Damani, Omar Berrada and Lina Lazaar. Chair: Anthony Downey16.30 – Propositional Futures II: Bassam El Baroni.17.00 – Q&A with Audience (moderated by Anthony Downey)17.30 – End
17.30 – Drinks reception
19.00–20:30: States in time – a film screening in the Starr Auditorium
Entry is included in the conference ticket. Alternatively, it is possible to book tickets just to see the screening without attending the conference.
This programme takes the notion of the ‘state’ as its starting point. What does it mean to imagine a state – a state of being, of consciousness, of lived experience? As we move into the future, what will the world look and feel like? The artists and filmmakers in this programme, many of whom are presenting UK premieres, explore relationships of power, globalisation, and political imagination in unique ways. Shifting through time – from the present to the future and back to the past – their films pose questions about the changing nature of statehood and the idealism associated with it.
This film screening is curated by Omar Kholeif
The Goodness Regime 2013
Jumana Manna and Sille StorihleHD video, 21 min, UK Premiere
Neil BeloufaSD video, 15 min
Farther than the Eye Can See 2012
Basma Al Sharif13 min, UK Premiere
Pipe Dreams 2012
Ali CherriIn Arabic; English subtitles. 6 min, UK Premiere
Tied and True 2012
Wu Tsang and Nana Oforiatta-AyimHD Video, 7 min