“Dissident Futures” is an investigation into possible alternative futures, particularly those that question or overturn conventional notions of innovation in economic, political, and technological structures. Either through active engagement with future studies or through intuitive investigation, the artists and designers in “Dissident Futures” envision a future that expands beyond our conventional expectations. Loosely structured around three thematic strands—the utopian, the speculative, and the pragmatic—the exhibition furthers our understanding of how artists are addressing potentiality and the unknown, from the most desired future to the most feared. The assumption is that the three categories are not hermetic but relational, and that they provide structure to developing works of art that address the future.



Image courtesy of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.


Dissident Futures explores a series of fundamental questions: How do artists imagine and question how power and inequity relate to innovation and the future when considering wide-ranging shifts, from social migration patterns to space technology? How can artists’ empathetic approaches to curiosity and doubt contribute to the larger field of future thinking? How can historically marginalized groups have a voice in envisioning the future?


The exhibition features an international roster of artists working in video and film, photography, painting, installation, sculpture, and performance, who engage wide-ranging topics including: the occult, science fiction, and outer space; afro-futurism; architecture and the environment, technology, the nature of human feeling, and language; mapping and atemporality; and post-apocalypse scenarios.


“Dissident Futures” is curated by Betti-Sue Hertz, YBCA’s Director of Visual Arts. It is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue edited by Betti-Sue Hertz and Ceci Moss, YBCA’s Visual Arts Assistant Curator.


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