Medical pods for homes as substitutes for beds could have been designed, tested, and perhaps created to ensure perfect sleep but also to monitor some basic vital signs while people sleep and provide AI reports and alarms whenever necessary. The hospital would become the place where to go for extreme cases and home the more natural place where to recover. We would not be assisting to the current panic and dysfunctional scenes of pandemia taking place in underfunded hospitals in disarray. Just a thought, the medical pod could analyze daily vital statistics and report on the health status of people—without the mad rush to scrape together kit tests that we are witnessing presently. The house and its functions would be reimagined and restructured in order to keep a population healthy, in shape, and able to live with tailored care and medicines.
It is rather sad to see Italy, but also Britain, the US, Germany, and the rest of the world being taken over by something that was predictable because it is cyclical and because there are no organizations in place to stop or at least slow down its viral trajectory. This phenomenon opens up larger socio-political questions that both as an artist and curator I feel I should ask: How long will it take populations to understand that there is and there always will be a will from the upper classes to cull the masses? Is it not yet clear that the European project has to either evolve in a fully functional federation or disband, since in its current form of selfishly absorbed nation-states it is unable to respond to the challenges of the twenty-first century? How long will it take US citizens to understand that public services cannot be privatized because the short-term interest of the private sector to cash-in does not coincide with the general interest of the public to ensure the development and success of a people? Finally, I expect that many art organizations will start now to ask what is their role and the role of the artist in a time of pandemic.
This is a question that I can answer: the role of art institutions and the role of the artist is that of having the courage to shape cultural and aesthetic agendas ahead of time by envisaging the future and presenting projects that are challenging, unusual, and thought-provoking and able to provide the viewer with multiple scenarios of aesthetic thinking and knowledge. The role of art institutions and artists is certainly not that of running after fashions, corporate diktacts, and audience’s entertaining and pandering.
In my proposal, Living After the Apocalypse, I wanted to institute a prize for the former mayor of Fudai in Japan, Kotoko Wamura, who out of sheer vision, memory of previous historical events, and unwavering foresight supported and willed the construction in the 1960s of a 50 foot sea wall able to withstand the strength of the tsunami and its waves in 2011. His vision was considered a folly, which he achieved nevertheless, and for which 3000 people are still alive today. The prize was supposed to be awarded to the most daring and visionary ideas coming from artists, architects, designers, and engineers.
Living After the Apocalypse (The Proposal 2011 © Lanfranco Aceti)
Living After the Apocalypse started from the assumption that humanity is no longer able to avert environmental catastrophes: harsher weather conditions, sea levels rising, pandemics, earthquakes, tsunamis, and human made disasters. Therefore, how could we redesign, build, and create communities that are able to survive the collapse of a centralized and inept (at best) system of management of services and production?
The proposal for the [name withheld] biennial, Living After The Apocalypse, embodies a message strongly focused on human agency, following cultural traditions of pro-active and farseeing engagement, in opposition to visual imageries of mere survival—as in traditional dystopian visual representations that are only able to offer and fetishize visions of collapsed and dysfunctional architectural, urban, and social landscapes.
The curatorial concept for the exhibition and the conference, the two main outputs of the biennial, wishes to launch internationally a positive message of empowerment and human agency. By stressing the word ‘living’ the exhibitions, conference, and art/cultural events will place emphasis on contemporary art, architecture, design, and engineering as the key factors that—by envisaging the future landscape and focusing on retaining living standards in the face of contemporary crises (economic, social, political, and environmental)—will make the difference between succumbing to the disaster, mere survival, and living after the apocalypse.
The biennial will launch the message that foresight, advanced thinking and planning, research, and creativity can lead the way in pre-empting future crises and developing new architectural models, service systems, cultural frameworks, aesthetic thinking, and technologies that can ensure living standards even after the apocalypse.
The biennial will reject the idea that the apocalypse is a disaster that society has to succumb to or that cannot recover from. It will launch a series of initiatives (research groups, project incubators, exhibitions, and cultural events) that by uniting contemporary architecture, arts’ creativity, advanced technology, new scientific thinking, and innovative social models can provide alternative solutions to the traditional representations of inevitable disaster and doom.
The biennial will acknowledge the ability of foresight and planning of visionary architects, artists, designers, and engineers who are able to imagine and present a future of life in spite of pending theories of doom. The biennial will seek to empower these visionaries and at the same time acknowledge the possibility that humanity, as a collective global force, will not be able to avert the current environmental, social, economic, and political crises that sign the current post-postmodern world. Therefore, those who can should think, invent, create, and act.
Focusing on the spirit that characterizes the hosting country and allows it to present itself as a safe haven, the theme of this curatorial proposal is to present the hosting city and the hosting country as the locus where architecture, art, science, media, and technology meet in order to deliver a positive message of future sustainability despite and in spite of current global representations and experiences of doom and conflict.
The images in the post are from: Elysium, directed by Neill Blomkamp, 2013.
The images in the slider are two sketches of Anemone: The Data Gate.