Programme Day Two

Anxiety, Culture and the Future

How can we imagine the future when we can’t see it? 

Anxiety, Culture and the Future explores collaborative cultures that enmesh arts with science, clinical and other knowledges to create new ways to imagine the future in a time of general anxiety.

 Programme may be subject to change 

 Saturday, 19 October, Powerhouse Museum Theatre

9.30am Conveners opening address: Katie Dyer

Day 2 focuses on:  

  • What is the civic and social role of cultural institutions in synthesizing individual and collective visions of the future?
  • What are the radical changes needed to make the cultural sector a platform for shaping a future that is inclusive and responsive to the experiences of all people?
  • What work do audiences do in reshaping future imaginaries and institutions? 

9.40am Lynn Froggett: From privatised anxieties to shared imaginaries: what can cultural institutions do? introduced by Adrian Collette, Australia Council
If contemporary anxieties are lived as private misery, is there a role for cultural institutions in revealing how they are embedded in both subjective experience and a culture that is shared? In other words can they expose the psychosocial nature of anxiety through the objects and processes that give it symbolic form? Can museums, galleries and performance venues foster the ‘third spaces’ in which shared imaginaries of the future can emerge? This session will draw on a research programme which has come to understand third space as both a state of mind and a set of conditions. These spaces can enable us to use art and other cultural objects in public settings to achieve a closer relation to reality and to imagine a future that is different. 

Discussion and audience Q&A with Lynn Froggett facilitated by Adrian Collette

–10.45–11.15am Break– Tea and coffee served outside of the Theatrette

11.15am Memory, trauma and the future of cultural institutions
Cultural institutions serve to memorialise, repair and also to perpetuate trauma. Languages, artefacts, stories and memories are cared for, co-opted and held hostage by institutional practices. Panellists present creative strategies to re-imagine future institutions and create enduring spaces to address trauma: learning from memories to build collective futures. 

Chair: Ien Ang, Distinguished Professor of Cultural Studies at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University  

Paula Abood, Creative Producer, Educator, Community Advocate, Writer and Director 

Bonney Djuric, OAM, Artist, Advocate for “Forgotten Australians” Historian, Adjunct lecturer NIEA, UNSW and Co-founder of Parragirls Female Factory Precinct Memory Project 

Lisa Havilah, CEO, Powerhouse Museum  

Karen Therese, Artistic Director, PYT Fairfield, Interdisciplinary Artist, Creative Producer and Cultural Activist. Karen will describe and demonstrate her model of creative practice that uses  “radical kindness” and decolonial processes to talk openly and rigorously about difficult subjects.  

Discussion and audience Q&A facilitated by Ien Ang

Performance presentation: Rene Kulitja, Artist and Director, Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council. Rene is a member of Uti Kulintjaku and is an artist and senior community advocate. She is an outstanding dancer, singer and weaver and was artistic director for the Uluru Statement. In 2015 she represented Tjanpi Desert Weavers in the 56th Venice Biennale.  

Audience Q&A with Rene Kulitja facilitated by Ien Ang

–12.45-1.45pm Lunch– 

1.45pm Feeling the Future
Exhibitions create opportunities to experience the future in immersive, emotional ways. An emerging global group of “third spaces” that entangle art, science and other forms of community knowledge, are creating collective environments to experience the affective and ethical dimensions of the future, including technological change and climate crisis.Through a series of case studies speakers discuss curatorial strategies that support optimism and agency in the face of anxious futures. 

Chair: Katie Dyer  

Bec Dean, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at NIEA, UNSW, and Senior Curator for The Big Anxiety – festival of arts + science + people discusses the need for “curatorial care” in her exhibition The Patient which gathered artists working with biomedical art to explore themes of illness and death.   

Nina Ernst, Associate Director, Programmes, ArtScience Museum, Singapore explores the idea of emotionally-led programming in exhibitions that deal with the art and science of the future, including Human+: The Future of the Species 

John O’Shea, John O’Shea, Associate Director (Creative), Science Gallery London
John O’Shea, Associate Director (Creative), Science Gallery London considers the emotional experience of exhibitions and the link between agency and anxiety through the exhibition On Edge: Living in an age of anxiety

–3.00–3.30pm Break– 

3.30pm Claire Doherty MBE, Unsettling the status quo: becoming relevant and resilient in the 21st century
As the final keynote of the conference, Claire Doherty will reflect on how psychosocial audience research changed her understanding of how transformation occurs through encounters with art, and subsequently how she changed the way in which she led a 21st arts institution. In search of a more relevant and empathic way of directing and producing the arts, Claire will reflect on the implications for civic, embedded institutions in meeting the environmental and social challenges of the future.

Mehreen Faruqi, Greens Senator for NSW, Social and Environmental Justice Activist, Civil and Environmental Engineer.

Claire Doherty in conversation with Mehreen Faruqi, facilitated by Lizzie Muller

4:30pm Plenary and Q&A

Chair: Lizzie Muller 

5pm Close