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Panel discussion: Art and Future

”All art is quite useless”, wrote Oscar Wilde in the Picture of Dorian Gray, though of course that particular picture was the quite useful vessel for the wickedness, moral decline and the aging process of its eponymous protagonist. Art indeed, can be seen as a vessel containing reflections of the past and present,  fear, ugliness, beauty, along with hope for the future or what people fear or hope the future might hold. Beyond this metaphor and given the influence of art in how we speculate about the future(s), we explore some philosophical and artistic trajectories on the contribution of art in imagining futures, especially in relation to catastrophes and dystopias.

This panel will reflect on questions such as:

  • How can art contribute to the way we understand and imagine the future?
  • Do artists hold an ethical responsibility or must art be free from such constraints?
     

Discussants

Lithuanian born artist Eglė Budvytytė has a background in the visual arts but in recent years she is working at the intersection between performing and visual arts. Many of her works are dealing with relationships between bodies and their environments, ideas of ecofeminism and questions of extinction and non-human entities, plants and animals. She is originally from Lithuania but currently living and working in the Netherlands. Eglé’s work was shown amongst others at Lofoten International Art festival; Block Universe Festival, London; Art Dubai commissions 2017; Liste, Art Basel; 19th Biennale of Sydney; De Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam; CAC in Vilnius;and Stedeljik Museum in Amsterdam. Budvytytė was resident at Le Pavillon, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, in 2012 and at Wiels, Brussels, in 2013.

Jerry Määttä is senior lecturer at the Department of Literature, Uppsala University. His research interests span from sociology of literature and the modern book market to ecocriticism, science fiction, disaster stories, role-playing games, fanzines/fan cultures and questions on Bildung and fiction. Several of his publications concerns cultural representations of the (postapocalyptic) future, science fiction and popular literature. A couple of Jerry’s present works are "The End of the World: The Rhetoric and Ideology of Apocalypse in Literature and Film, ca. 1950–2010" and "Elegy for an Empire: The Disaster Stories of John Wyndham, 1951–1957".

Jenny Sunesson is an artist, composer and writer, and assistant professor at Stockholm University of the Arts. Her practice ranges from field recording and conceptual sound art to  electroacoustic composition and documentary. She uses real life as a stage for her dark, tragic and sometimes comical work where real and invented characters and derogated stereotypes are forced to collaboration in the alternate story of hierarchies and normative power structure in our society. Jenny started off as a journalist working for newspapers and the public radio, (SR). She late studied at Dramatiska institutet and joined the renowned Electroacoustic music institute of Sweden (EMS). She eventually moved to the UK where she spent a large proportion of her adult life. “In the Lost and Found project”, Jenny writes, “I challenged my own sound making in opposition to a linear, capitalist, narrative tradition, dominated by visual culture. I wanted to explore the possibilities of sound as a counterpart material risking our perception of what sound is and what it can do. By randomly multilayering uncategorised sound scraps the work emerged to “produce itself” and I began to catch glimpses of alternative sound worlds and sites. I called the method fragmenturgy (fragmented dramaturgy) and the alternative realities that were created; fragmedialities (fragmented mediality, fragmented reality).”
 

Moderator

Panos Leventis is a professor at the Hammons School of Architecture of Drury University in Springfield. He has been practicing Architecture as a licensed Architect in Cyprus and Greece since the mid-1990s, with numerous built projects and four awarded entries in national and international Architectural and Urban Design competitions. His research and scholarship engage the past, present and future of cities. Departing from his doctoral dissertation in 2004, he authored "Twelve Times in Nicosia. Nicosia, Cyprus, 1192-1570: Architecture, Topography and Urban Experience in a Diversified Capital City". Since 2012, he has also been researching the socio-urban upheavals that sprang forth in the context of the 2008 global “financial crisis”. He has used Athens and Nicosia as his primary case studies for this research, focusing on graffiti, street art and urban resistance movements as understood via the lens of public space and participatory urban processes. He has published and lectured on this work in Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Poland, Sweden and the U.S.