30 January 2020

2219: Futures Imagined

We have always been both fascinated by and curious about the future, but also fearful and worried. Just as we are now, with extreme climate change giving rise to not inconsiderable concern. Prompting reflection on possible scenarios for a future that might seem a long way away but is potentially not far off, the exhibition 2219: Futures Imagined explores the next 200 years through an experiential and immersive journey into the imaginary future worlds of around thirty artists, architects, filmmakers, writers and theatre companies from around the globe. Inspired by the work of Singaporean writer Alvin Pang, the exhibition at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore (the first art and science museum in the world) is part of the celebrations for the bicentenary of the founding of the city-state, with the arrival of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1819 regarded as the point at which modern Singapore was born. It explores how the future might unfold over the next 200 years, leading up to 2219. Five “Acts” or sections show how lives in the future may be impacted by climate change and the loss of biodiversity. These are not predictions from a crystal ball, rather speculative concepts by visionary artists: experiential futures, immersive installations, theatre sets, meditation spaces, interactive works, films, photographs and sculptures that dialogue with visitors, allowing them to become part of these futures - “small futures” that are intimate and familiar, not the implausible, Utopian or dystopian scenarios of science fiction, but built on stories and traditions that are passed down from generation to generation. It is an invitation for visitors to reflect on the kind of future they would like to see and what action they can take now to make it possible. Singapore is the pilot city for these imaginary futures.

Act I, Arrival, is in fact less of an arrival than the current state of affairs as wrought by current social, political and climate changes and their repercussions for the world as a whole. Act II, Home, is a hypothetical typical 21st century apartment, even more self-sufficient, including the self-production of food – thanks to intelligently designed interiors and the strategic placement of devices and items that could help make adjusting to the effects of climate change easier, particularly with regard to rising sea levels and disruptions to global trade. Act III is Underworld, painting a possible new subterranean world, created in response to the changing dynamics between man and nature caused by human migration from earth’s surfaces. Adaptation, on the other hand, highlights the sense of urgency towards environmental conservation to protect our future: visitors are invited to take part in a theatrical piece in order to experience first-hand just how hostile the planet has become towards human beings. The last act, Memory, reflects on the way in which cultures and traditions survive thanks to collective memory and shared customs, creating an unbroken thread between past, present and future. The exhibition also includes The Library of Necessary Books, a collection of books handed down from generation to generation. Visitors are invited to submit books to which they are particularly attached, or which could be important for future generations, either for display or donation (first Saturday of each month), along with a message for their next readers.

Participants include the English artists Larry Achiampong, John Akomfrah, Gordon Cheung and Superflux, Germany’s Rimini Protokol, Asian artists Shan Hur and Lisa Park from Korea and Sarah Choo, Finbarr Fallon, Ho Tzu Nyen, Adeline Kueh, Zarina Muhammad, Alvin Pang and Robert Zhao Renhui, all of whom live in Singapore.

ArtScience Museum
10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore

Until 5th April 2020


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