Speculative Cultures

@ Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons/The New School, New York

SPECULATIVE CULTURES - A Virtual Reality Art Exhibition

Morehshin Allahyari (IRN/US)
Scott Benesiinaabandan (CA)
Matias Brunacci (ARG/DE)
Yu Hong (CHN)
Francois Knoetze (ZA)
Erin Ko (US) and Jamie Martinez (COL/US)

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


Exhibition: From February 7 to April 14, 2019
Opening: February 7, 2019 | 6 - 8pm (Video)
Artist Talk: February 8, 6:30 - 7:30 pm, with Morehshin Allahyari, Erin Ko & Jamie Martinez, Francois Knoetze, moderated by Tina Sauerlaender

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 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 develops an interactive, technology-based shamanistic journey. Yu Hong refers back to Chinese history and her families’ life stories. Francois Knoetze combines present and future, as well as representations and fictional visions of South Africa. Erin Ko and Jamie Martinez 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.


Morehshin Allahyari, She Who Sees the Unknown: Ya'jooj Ma'jooj, 2018 | still of VR artwork © the artist, courtesy of DiMoDA and Upfor Gallery
Installation shot: Marc Tatti

Scott Benesiinaabandan, Blueberry Pie Under the Martian Sky, 2016 | screenshot of VR artwork © the artist
Installation shot: Marc Tatti

Matias Brunacci, Virtualshamanism, 2018 | screenshot of VR artwork © the artist
Installation shot: Marc Tatti

Yu Hong, She is already gone, 2017 | screenshot of VR artwork ©Yu Hong and Khora Contemporary
Installation shot: Marc Tatti

Francois Knoetze, Virtual Frontiers, 2017 | screenshot of VR artwork © the artist
Installation shot: Marc Tatti

Erin Ko & Jamie Martinez, Neo Kingdom, 2017 | screenshot of VR artwork © the artists
Installation shot: Marc Tatti

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.

ENVISIONING THE FUTURE – Other World Perspectives in Virtual Reality Art

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