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Future Perfect: Catastrophe & the Contemporary

2021 - 2022

What is the ‘future perfect’? A perspective of the future on what the past (our present) will have been if we do not think, act, and create in the here and now of catastrophe. The future aspect of the tense is perfect because it offers a complete judgment of our present: we will have been nothing, not even remembered, if we do not painstakingly chip away at wealth disparity, privatization, precarization, corruption, environmental degradation, growing patriarchy, nationalism, racism, xenophobia, ethnic conflict and civil wars – just the latest accomplishments of capitalism and its political forms. If Freud wondered about the ‘future of an illusion,’ the continued existence of religion after its rational critique, today we must confront ‘the illusion of a future,’ the crumbling of the future once promised by the ‘invisible hand of the market’, our contemporary religion.

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Future Perfect | Public Talk Program

Praxis: Art & Thought in the Global Contemporary

2020 - 2021

We'll consider the phenomenon of 'Orientalism' in the global contemporary through Edward Said's Orientalism, Alain Grosrichard's The Sultan's Court: European Fantasies of the East, and Kirsten Scheid, 'Necessary Nudes, Had
ātha and Mu'āsira in the Lives of Modern in the Lives of Modern Lebanese'. How do persistent — affect making, writing, and thinking in an apparently undividing, globalizing world?

We'll analyse contemporary feminist approaches to gender and identity politics more generally: Judith Butler's Gender Trouble, Sara Ahmed's The Cultural Politics of Emotion, and Saba Mahmood's Politics of Piety. How might performance work to upset rigid hierarchies, of gender, class, ethnicity, race, and nationalism? Can piety or faith play a role, or is performativity 'secular'? What are the differences and similarities between feeling/emotion/experience, on the one hand, and politics, on the other?


The session will think through human identification and disidentification — desire and sexuality in relation to aggression — with the work of Joan Copjec, Alenka Zupancic, and Anne van Leeuwen, feminist thinkers from the Freudian/Lacanian psychoanalytic tradition. What is human 'sex'? What is human 'desire' and how do the concepts of sex and desire differ from contemporary calls to identify with everything: the body, making more bodies (procreation), the male/female, the child, the environment, the other? How might a rigorous understanding of sex/desire bear on the ways we make, write, and think today?

Beyond Identity
What does it mean to cultivate a contemporary aesthetic, intellectual, and political practice 'beyond identity', premised on the common lack that fuels human desire rather than multiple/different identities (gay, straight, man, woman, trans, black, white) that covers over — represses — this lack? Here we'll read selections from Walid Sadek’s The Ruin to Come to address these questions.

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Curatorial Development Exhibition Program
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