Art & Theory from a Future Perspective

Lecture series

December 2011–April 2012

Oude Lutherse Kerk

Spui 411 (corner Spui)



Following the successful lecture series and publications Right About Now: Art & Theory in the 1990s and Now is the Time: Art & Theory in the 21st Century, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the University of Amsterdam, de Appel arts centre, W139, the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, and Metropolis M, jointly present a new series of lectures and debates: Facing Forward: Art & Theory from a Future Perspective. This series and its forthcoming publication will discuss art and theory of the future, focusing on seven themes that together envision possible futures for contemporary art and theory, and offering innovative models and strategies with which to look at our collective future. Over the course of seven evenings, renowned international speakers will share their perspectives on the topics of Future Tech, Future Image, Future History, Future Freedom, Future Museum, Future City and ultimately, Future’s Future.

Contemporary art and art theory today is mainly about yesterday. Archiving, nostalgia, commemoration, memory, re-enactment, reconstruction, and documentation are popular themes and methods in the art world. Artists, curators, and theoreticians adopt a retrospective view in which they set out like archeologists to excavate and expose matters from the past. However, the use of this historical refuge carries the risk of a certain blindness. Looking back can obscure the view of the present and the future, and make it more difficult to be open to the creative potential of the unknown and the unexpected, despite this being exactly what we need in these turbulent times.

In this lecture series and its forthcoming publication, Facing Forward: Art & Theory from a Future Perspective, our heads turn in the other direction and our eyes focus on the horizon of the unknown. In light of broader social developments, this orientation corresponds well with our time. In addition to the fact that financial speculation comprises one of the key aspects of contemporary (neo-) liberal society, we are inundated on a daily basis with expectations of future matters. A kaleidoscope of utopias and dystopias, time travel, cyborgs, aliens, and artificial intelligence, testaments of acceleration and progression or damnation and destruction, based on prophetic predictions and quasi-scientific arguments, feeds both our hopes and fears for what is to come.

This jungle of ideas cries for a critical vision and substantive reflection. Facing Forward: Art & Theory from a Future Perspective draws attention to a number of important social and specifically artistic themes which are closely related to this hybrid 'discourse of the future.' What will art and art theory bring us? How can they change the way in which we experience the future? What does it mean to look forward, to speculate, to extrapolate? Is it possible to develop a vision of the future outside these well-worn paths of utopia and dystopia?

The complete program is as follows:

#1 FUTURE TECH - December 7‚ 2011, 8 pm

Speakers: Manuel DeLanda & Amber Case

#2 FUTURE IMAGE - December 14, 2011, 8 pm

Speakers: James Elkins & Jalal Toufic

#3 FUTURE HISTORY - January 13, 2012, 8 pm

Speakers: Amelia Jones & David Summers

#4 FUTURE FREEDOM – February 9, 2012, 8 pm

Speakers: Paul Chan & Hito Steyerl

#5 FUTURE MUSEUM - March 8, 2012, 8 pm

Speakers: Hans Belting & Iwona Blazwick

#6 FUTURE CITY - March 2012, 8 pm

Speakers: Rem Koolhaas (among others)

#7 FUTURE’S FUTURE - April 2012, 8 pm

Speakers: To be announced

Practical information:

Language: All lecture evenings will be held in English.

Location: Oude Lutherse Kerk, Spui 411 (corner Spui), Amsterdam.

Editorial board: Jelle Bouwhuis (SMBA), Ann Demeester (de Appel arts centre), Hendrik Folkerts (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam), Christoph Lindner (ASCA, University of Amsterdam), Domeniek Ruyters (Metropolis M), Margriet Schavemaker (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam), and Tim Voss (W139).

For the full program, more information on the topics, speakers, and ticket sales, as well as information regarding the workshops, please visit our website www.facingforward.nl. Also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


De Appel arts center

Metropolis M


Stedelijk Museum

University of Amsterdam



De Groene Amsterdammer


Sns Reaal

Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunst

Mondriaan Stichting