The intense fascination for the future revealed by certain past works is reciprocated by the equally intense appeal that these past works have for contemporary artists, notably through the historical form of modernism. From the way in which we previously imagined the future, and the retrospective gaze that the present era levels at the past – particularly at its vision of modernity and its often naive or fantastical anticipation of the future – come the questions behind the exhibition Future Perfect.
The exhibition takes a transversal approach, intersecting different aesthetic and temporal veins. A selection of work from contemporary artists will be grouped with older work and documents – each giving perspective to the others. Retrofuturism, steampunk and archeomodernism therefore share this attraction for certain forms of modernity, for an industrial age aesthetic, for this idea of a future which could have, and through contemporary creation, could still explode at any time (and much earlier than expected in the chronology of human evolution), causing frictions and temporal paradoxes both delightful and meaningful.
Beyond this observation, we could legitimately ask ourselves why, during
the 1980s and constantly since, writers of science fiction have deliberately turned away from a supposedly essential component in their work – the future. By the same token, what does it mean for a visual artist, a musician or even a video game developer to use an aesthetic, sound or graphic referenceconnected to the past? Are we to imagine a reactionary approach in all this? A denial of the future – and implicitly a denial of the contemporary, as it is incarnated by the beginning of the 21st century? A negation of the famous ‘cult of the new’ established in dogma precisely by artistic modernity? A visceral allergy to the freaked out postmodernism of the noughties?
These, among others, are the questions for which the exhibition Future
Perfect will try to provide (inevitably anachronistic) answers…