Curatorial Development Program

FUTURE PERFECT: Catastrophe and the Contemporary

Applications open: May 16 until July 3, 2021

Program will start online in August 2021

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Click here to register for the informational session on June 22, 4:30 PM GST.


Warehouse421 and the Bombay Institute for Critical Analysis and Research (BICAR) invite curators from the MENASA to propose a group exhibition and publication on ‘Future Perfect: Catastrophe and the Contemporary’. 

What is the ‘future perfect’? A perspective of the future on what the past (our present) will have been if we do not think, act, and create in the here and now of catastrophe. The future aspect of the tense is perfect because it offers a complete judgment of our present: we will have been nothing, not even remembered, if we do not painstakingly chip away at wealth disparity, privatization, precarization, corruption, environmental degradation, growing patriarchy, nationalism, racism, xenophobia, ethnic conflict and civil wars – just the latest accomplishments of capitalism and its political forms. If Freud wondered about the ‘future of an illusion,’ the continued existence of religion after its rational critique, today we must confront ‘the illusion of a future,’ the crumbling of the future once promised by the ‘invisible hand of the market’, our contemporary religion.

The successful curator/curatorial collective will receive an award of 20,000 AED and participate in a structured program, which will take place from August 2021 until February 2022, including: 

(1) A weekly colloquium/workshop of reading, discussion, and presentation with invited and selected philosophers, historians, artists, curators, critics, and creative writers working on the theme of ‘Future Perfect: Catastrophe and the Contemporary’.

(2) Individual collaboration with BICAR and Warehouse421 faculty and staff to hone the project and realize its publication and exhibition, scheduled to open in February 2022 at Warehouse421’s Gallery 2 (~400SQM). 


The curatorial development program will entail rigorous study, artist and artwork selection, and writing on the future perfect, a tense introduced with modern science’s revolutionary break from ‘animism’ and the contemporary, aesthetic turn to perspective. 

Those who apply and are not accepted to exhibit and publish can choose to be considered for participation in the colloquium. Anyone from the humanities, social sciences, or arts can apply to participate in the colloquium only.


This program will be conducted mostly online and in English.


Applications open May 16 until July 3, 2021


Colloquium Guest Speakers (inter alia):


The curator and artist Ala Younis exhibits work that stitches together ‘evental’ experiences of recurring crises across the world, as well as between time– the past, present, and future. An Index of Tensional and Unintentional Love of Land (2014) exhibits the particular instance of Palestinian struggle– from the nakba to the naksa until the contemporary crisis– in relation to other revolutionary events, accomplisments, and disappointments. Juxtaposing images, built-forms, photographs, cinema, and archival documents of visual culture that undermine stereotypical particularizations of crisis and its replies in a global world order, Ala literally exhibits a revolutionary international of presence and absence in the same space-time: what is missing from here that is present elsewhere, what was done then that is being done now, and vice-versa? She uses the exhibition space-form to put geographies and temporalities in rigorous conversation with one another. 


The architect and artist Bijoy Jain conceives presence without its contemporaneous articulation of absence. The foundations of his structures -- public spaces, homes, furniture, art installations and objects -- owe their reality to the real time of catastrophe. In a particularly complex built form in south India, Jain has gone to great imaginative, bureaucratic, and architectural lengths to dig a well, an underground that informs every above ground structure. His architectural practice builds upon the conceptual work of Gordon Matta-Clark, creating spaces for rigorous conversation between lack and appearance.


The artist and forensic investigator Lawrence Abu Hamdan has been researching and exhibiting the distinct capacity of sound to articulate presence and absence at once. For instance, in his work on the Saydnaya prison in Syria, he demonstrates how the invisible, diffuse nature of sound reverberations without a source redoubles linear mechanisms of panoptic control that rely on direct lines of sight: torturer and tortured, warden/observer and prisoner/observed. Sounds of the torturers, the tortured, footsteps (wardens or prisoners?), and a creaking infrastructure saturate prisoners’ bodies and minds with horror (Saydnaya (the missing 19db) 2017). For the colloquium, we’ve asked Lawrence to present his more recent work on reincarnation (current), considering the relation between past, present, and future temporalities through sound loops open and closed.


Raqs Media Collective turn against soothsaying by conceptualizing the infinite, the impossible as necessarily present, not as that which awaits us in some determinate, post-apocalyptic future  (The Necessity of Infinity, 2017). Raqs work on the contemporary as always-already pathological, the apocalypse as having happened, and toxicity as the structure of the present that begs dismantling (Toxicity, current). The collective was formed in 1992 in Delhi -- a time of the ‘great Indian’ opening of capital to the rest of the world -- and the word ‘raqs’ registers the double meaning of revolution: a whirling return to the same as well as the production of difference through that repetitive return. A ‘kinetic contemplation’, Raqs has produced restless entanglement with the world and time with a celebrated practice across several media: installation, sculpture, video, performance, text, lexica, and curation.


The artist and amateur astronomer Rohini Devasher has chased solar eclipses -- literal dialectics of negative and positive, subterranean and superterranean. She has worked with a community of astronomers in India, in the isolated undergrounds of massive telescopic forms, and with seamen aboard an oil tanker for 26 days in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Her sounds, photographs, films, drawings, and mappings of the antagonism of time and space create a sense of wonder in listeners and viewers, at once horrific and comic.


The artist and writer Walid Sadek has been demanding we ‘labour the missing’ in his prose and artistic practice, confronting the regnant ideology of our contemporary -- melancholia, nostalgia -- through a careful critique of waiting for those who disappeared during Lebanon’s protracted civil war to return before politics can get started again. Sadek perceives the present as always-already holed, rendering the contemporary longing for a future (saved or damned, full or empty) meaningless. He proposes a way to create in and around a gaping, holed, lacking reality.


Applications open May 16 until July 3, 2021