Toward a Comparative Futurism

Mahan Moalemi
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10.05.2022

This essay explores the plural notion of “ethnofuturisms” by employing a comparative approach. The cultural and political vicissitudes of “futurist” tropes are traced in literary and audiovisual creations that engage with the national, ethnic, and/or racial contexts of the Middle East, African diaspora, East Asia, and former Eastern Bloc. As the starting point of an ongoing research project, the essay ends with reflections on the uneven distribution of access to the means of futurity and the challenges posed by the navigation of common and conflictual futures worldwide, as well as preliminary discussions of an expanded frame of comparison that considers cyborgian ethnicity as embroiled in the formation of cosmic and xenic cultures.

Connected Material

Archives are often perceived as somewhat static. They look back, they conserve, they remember. But the thinking that was present in the pieces of the Pinkus Archive all addressed ecology, extinction, and political agency in ways that not only extend into our present, but into our future.

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A conversation about KANG Sang-woo’s film KIM-GUN and how it treats historical evidence and testimonies as a ‘horizon of contingent truths’ with the potential to be pieced together in alternating ways, touching upon the complex dynamics of archives and life stories, collective memory and amnesia, the mechanisms of image-making and history-writing.

The legacy of anti-colonial leader and Pan-Africanist revolutionary Amílcar Cabral (1924-1973) still calls for cultural readings, and not strictly political ones. Contemporary art, so-called “artistic research” and critical theory will benefit from a cross-disciplinary approach which puts Cabral as relevant to art or which turns Cabral’s many contributions into tools.

Three videos are used in real time composition to explore the combination of the moving images – the edited sequence creates a non-existing-place.

The audio map “biography of kecak” is an attempt to decrease this discrepancy between the singularity of archival knowledge and the multiplicity of individual realiities – using the sonic as its material.

These images were taken in the frame of The Whole Life Academy. Laura Fiorio accompanied the project as a photographer from the beginning in 2019 and developed her own approach of documenting archival sites and methods.

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This collective chain uses multiple entry points to reflect on the encounter of archival practices, objects and material with non-linear timelines.