Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building
900 Jefferson Drive, SW
Dates: November, 2021 – July, 2022
Opening this November
, at the historic Arts + Industries Building (AIB), “FUTURES” will explore a myriad of possible futures on the horizon. As its first major commissioning project, AIB will invite five boundary-pushing contemporary artists to create their own speculative future worlds. These major site-specific projects will reflect the milestone occasion and iconic setting, and beguile visitors with a glimpse of the ways in which artists are at the forefront of affecting lasting and positive change.
Artists Beatriz Cortez, Nettrice Gaskins, Soo Sunny Park, Devan Shimoyama, and the duo Tamiko Thiel and /p (Peter Graf) work in such diverse media as augmented reality, artificial intelligence (A.I.), found objects, and industrial materials, blending their creative practices with deep research into technology, science, and community and cultural histories. Each has been asked to respond to both the building’s historic architecture and a particular future themed section of the exhibition. All are making their Smithsonian debut.
Los Angeles-based artist Beatriz Cortez will create a space-time capsule that is both inspired by the stone chultunes that the ancient Maya carved on the ground in what is now the Yucatán region in order to store precious natural and spiritual materials, and by the 20th-century history of space travels.
Cortez imagines her work as a speculative space-time capsule that carries ancestral Indigenous knowledge such as plants, seeds, and ideas towards the future. For Chultún El Semillero (or the seedbed), Cortez will create her chultunes out of welded steel and carve them with a mathematical formula offering directions for the survival of life on Earth. Based on archival research at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, her research and collaboration with Indigenous groups in her native Central America,and NASA’s experiments in growing plants in space, her work will invite us to imagine Indigenous survival in the future, our own active participation in the growth of plants for nourishment, and the idea of communal life. Chultun El Semillero was made at a time of debate about COVID-19 vaccine distribution and will invite visitors to consider who has access to future resources and how they might be distributed.
Photo: Briceño / Smithsonian Arts + Industries.