We begin with a question: What possible futures do we want to make? It is a question that raises uncertainty and provokes complexity. As practitioners in the arts, we practise occupying uncertainty and taking on complexity to create new possibilities. We want to use the power of possibilities to create new forms of expressing the future. As researchers in the arts, we strive to produce new ways of making sense of the future that we want to make together.
Futures have always been the realm of the unknown, subject to predictions and projections, fashions, and forecasts. However, the current state of emerging urgencies is also making them precarious—scarce, uneven, and not commonly available. At the same time, our global social, political, economic, human, and environmental resources face depletion. The need to make another future possible is apparent.
The clarion call for future-making has to be heard with caution. Overemphasis on the future as a resolution of contemporary crises abandons our responsibility for action in the present. Utopian visions of the future as a safe space can encourage the suspension of civil rights and liberties and even foster authoritarianism. The resignation to imminent threat can normalise apathy towards our collective well-being. These predetermined scripts for futurity reduce the future to a commodity and a finite resource.
And yet, deep in the heart of art is the capacity to create futures that are infinitely creative and chimerical, whimsical and wondrous. The ArtEZ Research Centre is premised on the foundational belief that art is a force of change and imagines new others—other worlds, ways, times, spaces, bodies, us—other futures. This capacity to imagine, visualise, formulate, and materialise the future, not just as a function of time, but as a possibility of collective hope, is what we call practice.
Practice is a continuous conversation that takes critical, aesthetic, and political positions. It is a dialogue generated by bringing together different needs, questions, opportunities, interests, knowledges, expertise, and processes to create possible futures. At ArtEZ, research in the arts is an articulation, analysis, and critique of the expression of resilience, equity, diversity, in the making of these futures. What kind of futures? Whose futures? Who do we make them with? Who are we when we step up to make them?
Research in the arts emphasises that these practices of possible futures are incomplete, just-begun, and in-the-making. They need a glossary of common values and a lexicon of methods to identify what we do and how. Simultaneously, it needs critical reflexivity that questions the foregrounding of certain voices and makes space for missing experiences, to unsettle our knowledge and create conditions for collective futures.
Practicing Possible Futures is a portfolio of research in the arts at ArtEZ that illustrates the capacity of our artistic expression to shape the world we live in, our commitment to imagine and expand the possibilities of collective intervention, and our role as researchers in the arts to bring forth futures worth fighting for.
Team Practicing Possible Futures—ArtEZ; Anniek Brattinga, Carin Rustema, John Johnston, Krista Jantowski, Leon Filter, Marie Trei, Nishant Shah, Vincent Zhong,
Text; Krista Jantowski, Leon Filter, Vincent Zhong,
Design Website; Dorothee Dähler, Simon Rüegg,
Development Website; Simon Rüegg,
Design Identity; Dorothee Dähler, Yeliz Secerli,
Last Update; 10/12/2020,