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Speculative Cultures: A Virtual Reality Exhibition

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm more dates through April 14, 2019

Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center 2 West 13th Street New York, NY 10011

Cultures have never existed in a set state. They are all in constant flux brought about by social, economic, and technological developments. The global flow of people forges change, adaptation of norms and the creation of new forms for human societies, religions, rituals, or spoken languages. These processes of change lead to the adoption of new tools or practices and therefore can be considered as engine for progress, growth, and innovation.

The new tools of the digital age offer new possibilities for cultures to exist, evolve, and consolidate. Virtual Reality allows artists to speculate about new manifestations of cultural expressions within the conditions of the digital realm. Independent of physical surroundings, new spaces spring into existence.

The artists in this exhibition engage with their personal experiences, memories, and cultural heritage in order to reflect on today’s social coexistence. Morehshin Allahyari (IR/US) reflects on post-colonialism by exploring meanings of myths of Middle-Eastern origin. Scott Benesiinaabandan (CA) creates a futuristic setting based on a story of the indigenous Anishinabe peoples. Matias Brunacci (AR/DE) develops an interactive, technology-based shamanistic journey. Yu Hong(CN) refers back to Chinese history and her families’ life stories. Francois Knoetze (ZA) combines present and future, as well as representations and fictional visions of South Africa. Erin Ko (US) and Jamie Martinez (CO/US) create a journey to the afterlife inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Through their works, the artists shape their hopes and desires into virtual environments representing imagined cultures. Their speculative virtual worlds create different perspectives on established narratives and traditions, as well as images and symbols. The artists’ projects thereby open possibilities for leaving accustomed views and familiar structures behind and exploring different notions of one’s own personal surroundings and conditions of human existence.

This show is part of the exhibition series Critical Approaches in Virtual Reality Art, which was developed by Erandy Vergara and Tina Sauerlaender at the invitation of the Goethe-Institut and Studio XX in Montréal. This series brings together Erandy Vergara's engagement with postcolonial and feminist perspectives on media art and theory and Tina Sauerlaender's curatorial engagement with digital technologies and Virtual Reality.  

Curated by Tina Sauerlaender (DE), Peggy Schoenegge (DE), and Erandy Vergara (MX/CA).

Opening reception: Thursday, February 7, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

 

Presented in partnership with the Consulate General of Canada in New York.

Technical expertise and support kindly provided by the XReality Center at The New School.

Related Public Programming:

Artists' talk/tour
Friday, February 8, 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the gallery.

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