Hito Steyerl Duty Free Art, 2015, installation view, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2015.
Photo: courtesy of the artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York & Esther Schipper, Berlin

In the twenty-first century, imagining the future often invokes a fear in humans predicated on its uncertainty. Endless attempts to predict what will happen focus on historical patterns that give some insight into looming possibilities, but realities of the past become insignificant when uncertainty is integral to rapidly changing societies. The future arrives faster every day, and predicting it never gets easier because it does not exist until it has unfolded into the present. According to Barbara Adams and Chris Grove, seeing this impending time as a hypothetical, “disembedded realm”1 1 - Barbara Adam and Chris Groves, Future Matters: Action, Knowledge, Ethics, (Boston: BRILL, 2007), 1–77. allows for less restricted conceptualizations. Instead of seeing the future as something that is predetermined, it can be seen as an extension of the present that exists only when action is taken to create it. The time we call the present becomes the future, unfolding through living 2 2 -  Ibid.. Though predicting approaching time in this fluid way can be chaotic, doing so allows accelerated adaption and understanding. Hito Steyerl recognizes this present future in This Is The Future, an exhibition which ran at the Art Gallery of Ontario from October 2019 to February 2020. With this show Steyerl focuses on contemporary issues explored through video technology, education, and the built environment and uses both historic and futuristic imagery to better inform the audiences’ understanding of the present. In this way, she equips her audience to take whatever the future offers, even if it is unexpected, and prepares them to create their own depictions of prospective time through lived experience. The exhibition interrogates economic systems, including art institutions; criticizes industrial production; and questions societal developments that concern ethics. Steyerl does not necessarily make any predictions or depictions of the future, but she does depict a futuristic present that was once science-fiction, non-existent then carved out by human and earthly forces. She brings time together fluidly, showing previous and subsequent effects on the present, and with the title of the show states that we are no longer waiting for the future, we are living it.

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