Europe’s history has always been characterised by shifting boundaries, political and economic upheaval, migration and the displacement of people. Only with historical distance can we truly see the bigger picture. As the debate about the future of Europe continues, the Victoria & Albert Museum supported by Goethe-Institut commissioned 12 artists to imagine themselves in the year 4017, looking back and making sense of where we are now. Commissioned artist included Rosa Barba, Raqs Media Collective, Tu Wei-Cheng, Thibaut de Ruyter, Constant Dullaart, Remco Torenbosch Fru*Fru, IF with 00, Jasleen Kaur, Onkar Kular with Common Initiative, Tasha Marks, AVM Curiosities Together with Common Initiative (a collective of four ex-students from my teaching Platform 13 at the Royal College of Art) we proposed 4017 Enacted. In the year 4017, how might identity and territories be transformed by advances in artificial intelligence? What if multiple data streams could define citizenship, or if Europe itself ceased to be a fixed continent and became a landmass with borders changing daily according to data flows? 4017 Enacted worked with secondary school groups in London to imagine the future of European identity through the lens of developing technologies and our current socio-political landscape. Presented as an alternative museum tour, outcomes of the school workshops and the artist’s research formed the basis for immersive performances around the V&A, London and The Future of Europe: Internationales Theaterfestival, Stuttgart. The project was subsequently recommissioned for it second iteration at The Future of Europe: Internationales Theaterfestival, Stuttgart.
The project was originally commissioned by the Goethe-Institut, London and performed at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The project was additionally supported by the British Council and re-commissioned for The Future of Europe: Internationales Theaterfestival, Stuttgart.
Description of project
4017 Enacted offered an opportunity to examine what Europe in all its contemporary complexity could mean in the future. We were interested in the role that technology, and an increasing significance of data and connectivity relates to issues of citizenship and borders and their possible effects on nation states and continents. We were also particularly interested and excited about the possible role of cultural spaces how especially museums as public spaces, and the artifacts they house and host can frame the discussion. The museum as a shared civic space offers an opening in this respect as a possible place for sharing, learning and testing ideas. Collectively we were keen to foreground how design can function as a way of gathering and collecting information and ideas, and then presenting and engaging with these directly with an audience or public, almost like a form of design journalism. We began by asking the following questions: What if in the future: Data flows defined citizenship? Could individuals have more than one citizenship? Or, what if borders were constantly updated? ‘4017 Enacted’ propositionally declared the V&A and Stuttgart Theatre Festival as new types of cultural extraterritorial space, defined by constantly updating borders and novel forms of citizenship. Framed as an alternative guided tour through the medieval and renaissance galleries, the project translates and tests some of these ideas within these spaces. The heightened use of texts and slogans in the project acts as a way of introducing specific ideas from our research especially in relation to current political debates and rhetoric within Europe and beyond. It is very clear that we are at a watershed moment now, both politically and technologically. The utopian positivism from the early internet era perhaps seems a little faded and at times naive. Some of the themes raised in the project reference this moment, for example, tour guides in ‘4017 Enacted’ where clothing with the slogan ‘Post Truth Guide’ and are encouraged to tell fabricated stories about some of the content in the V&A. Additionally, much of the political discourse at the moment is focused on separation or isolation. Closing yourself off or going backwards isn't a positive solution, nor one, which is even achievable. Instead we will need to learn and foreground new ways of being and alternatives to some of the issues and opportunities that technology draws to the surface. The role of the designer in these times will be crucial, not only in developing the next app or service, but in problematizing and presenting some of the implications and repercussions of these developments. The V&A and other cultural institutions can and perhaps should play a major role in fostering a more critical awareness around citizenship and technology. The project was widely published with a broadcast on Front Row, BBC Radio 4 and features in the Washington Post and numerous articles in print, web and radio.
Description of work included
Performance score, sub scripts, wearables and flags. Through the project we developed a performance score that included the participation of up to twenty actors and dancers – with each performer provided with a sub script based on a technologically defined code and location. Each sub script included a specifically designed outfit. The overall performance scheduled between 1-2hrs in duration.
Type of work
Live Performance and artefacts
Collecting Europe at the V&A Museum, London, UK: 1-7th Feb 2017
The Future of Europe: Internationales Theaterfestival, Stuttgart, Germany 6-10th June 2018
Collecting Europe at the V&A Museum, London, UK
The Future of Europe: Internationales Theaterfestival, Schauspielhaus, Stuttgart
Link to web site