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Refiguring the Future Conference

Refiguring the Future Conference

TICKETS February 10, 2019

Getting Here ktdcshuttle

Shuttle will be running


Knockdown Center hosts the final day of the Refiguring the Future Conference, organized by Eyebeam and REFRESH, and presented in collaboration with Hunter College Art Galleries.


About the Refiguring the Future Conference
Following a public reception on February 8, Refiguring the Futurewill open with a two-day conference highlighting over 20 speakers and workshop leaders, including special keynotes by Simone BrowneKeeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and Paul B. Preciado in conversation with Zach Blas. Providing space to unpack the key themes in the exhibition through keynotes, panel discussions, and community engaged programs, the conference will grapple with marginalizing states of technology by propelling us to a future in becoming.

With conditions of ecologies, humanities, and sciences being implicated by technological biases, what possibilities arise when this accelerated force is paused and worldbuilding is privileged anew? As technical powers have perpetuated systemic cultural and economic oppression, the ways in which we exist, navigate, and project are seemingly dictated and undermined.

The Refiguring the Future conference convenes artists, educators, writers, and cultural strategists to envision a shared liberatory future by providing us with collective imaginings that move beyond and critique oppressive systems to offer alternative possibilities. Additional participants include: Taeyoon ChoiSofía CórdovaKadija FerrymanShannon FinneganAnneli GoellerKathy HighYo-Yo LinMaandeeq MohamedRasheedah PhillipsSofía Unanue, and Alexander Weheliye (list in formation).

The Refiguring the Future conference is curated by Eyebeam/REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow Lola Martinez and REFRESH member Maandeeq Mohamed.


11:15 AM – 12:00 PM | Event Check in 

12:00 PM – 01:45 PM | Session 1: Workshops, Talks, and Screenings

Workshop | Mxtressclass: Lexi Had a Little Alembic

Location: Ready Room Bar

In a co-constitutive process of exchange, this semi-structure workshop will engage participants on collaborative writing for performance, online synchronous writing, and collaborative writing processes using enabling constraints and sympoietic systems.

In Her Interior (Virginia Barratt and Francesca da Rimini), Artists

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body

Talks | Refiguring Planetary Health, Building Black Futures

Location: Annex

We cannot have a healthy planet that sustains all human beings as long as the systemic oppression of Black and Indigenous peoples continues. And yet, prominent environmental science institutions concerned with conservation and climate change often fail to address this oppression or their role in perpetuating it. In this talk, we will explore how histories of scientific racism and eugenics inform current scientific policies and practice. Cynthia Malone will work with various forms of freedom practice, from hip hop to science fiction to scholarship in the Black Radical Tradition, to consider alternative visions for planetary health that advance both environmental stewardship and liberation from oppressive ideologies and systems.

Cynthia Malone, Activist, Scholar, and Scientist

The Spirit of the Water Bear

In this talk, Claire Pentecost will give an introduction and reading of Spirit of the Water Bear, a young adult novel set in a coastal town in the Carolinas. The novel’s protagonist, Juni Poole, is a 15-year-old girl who spends much of her time exploring the natural world. Inevitably, she finds herself confronting the urgency of a crisis that has no end, namely climate change and the sixth great extinction. Through experiences of activism, she finds comrades who feel environmental and political urgency much as she does, and learns that she has a place in the ongoing struggle for environmental justice. The book is a work of “Cli-Fi” or climate fiction, featuring Juni’s adventures, but it is also a work of “Cli-Phi” or climate philosophy, featuring conversations and musings on the nature of our existential predicament.

Claire Pentecost, Artist

Speaker Introductions by Lola Martinez, Eyebeam and REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow

Workshop | Bioplastics for Ritual Healing from Petrochemical Landscapes 

Location: Arizona

In this bioplastics and biomaterials workshop, participants will refigure methodologies to radically re-make petro-chemically derived plastic materials that we use in our everyday lives. We will envision tactics for reclaiming, rebuilding, nurturing and healing – via renewable biological raw materials – the extractive and destructive processes of techno-capitalism and the inherent waste, cultural and environmental degradation of these now dominant processes.

Tiare Ribeaux, Artist—

Screening | Incense, Sweaters, and Ice

Location: Gallery 2

(1 hour, 9 minutes. Closed Captioned)

Incense Sweaters & Ice follows the movements of Girl, Mrs. Queen Esther Bernetta White, and WB (“whiteboy”) through different phases of watching, being watched, and remaining unseen. Using Hollywood film tropes and the visual languages of social media video platforms like Vine and Instagram, the film follows the long cinematic history of using camera motion to create the illusion of subjectivity. Intertwining technique and narrative, the film drives at the tension between surveillance and self­ promotion that pervades our many avenues of self­ documentation and broadcast.

Martine Syms, Artist

Film Introductions by Maandeeq Mohamed, Writer

01:45 PM – 02:45 PM | Lunch 

03:00 PM – 04:45 PM |   Session 2: Workshops, Talks, and Programs

Workshop | Abstract Data Portraits

Location: Wood Jamb

Note: Participants are encouraged to bring their own laptops.

In this community data justice workshop, participants will explore the data they constantly create by generating and abstracting their data via creative code. Through an informative yet playful process, we aim to demystify concepts around “big data” by allowing agency and providing information.

Ladan Siad, Designer and Creative Technologist

Aljumaine Gayle, Designer

Roundtables and Talks | Visible networks: Community Building in the Digital Arena

Location: Annex

As notions of accessibility are being rendered visible on networks and digital medias, disability and chronic illness communities are utilizing networks to provide resources and representations. Yet what does it mean to build community within these platforms? This roundtable discussion offers reflections by artists working to provide new insights into biomedical discourses which reinforce apparent and unapparent representations of disabled bodies.

Hayley Cranberry, Artist

Anneli Goeller, Artist

Yo-Yo Lin, Artist


Legacy Russell is the founding theorist behind Glitch Feminism as a cultural manifesto and movement. #GLITCHFEMINISM aims to use the digital as a means of resisting the hegemony of the corporeal. Glitch Feminism embraces the causality of ‘error’ and turns the gloomy implication of ‘glitch’ on its ear by acknowledging that an error in a social system disturbed by economic, racial, social, sexual, cultural stratification, and the imperialist wrecking-ball of globalization—processes that continue to enact violence on all bodies—may not be ‘error’ at all, but rather a much-needed erratum. The digital is a vessel through which our glitch ‘becoming’ realises itself, and through which we can reprogramme binary gender coding. Our ‘glitch’ is a correction to the machine—f**k hegemonic coding! USURP THE BODY—BECOME YOUR AVATAR!

Legacy Russell, Curator and Writer

Speaker Introductions by Lola Martinez, Eyebeam and REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow

Workshop |  Alt-text as Poetry 

Location: Ready Room Bar

Alt-text is a key building block of web accessibility, allowing blind people and people with low vision to access visual content. Often it is seen through the lens of compliance, as an unwelcome burden that needs to be met with minimum effort. How can we instead approach alt-text lavishly and creatively? In this workshop, we will reframe alt-text as a type of poetry and practice writing it together.

Shannon Finnegan, Artist

Bojana Coklyat, Artist

Workshop |  Distributed Web of Care

Location: Arizona

What kind of network do we want for the future? How does it feel to be programmed into centralized, decentralized, and distributed networks? Distributed Web of Care imagines a more equitable, caring internet for the future. Through lecture and performance, we will address timely issues of the internet including surveillance, censorship, corporate data ownership, and explore alternative methods of communicating via peer to peer protocols for collective agency.

Taeyoon Choi, Artist and co-founder of School for Poetic Computation

Stud1nt, Sound Artist

Cori Kresge, Dancer

04:45 PM – 05:00 PM | Session Break 

05:00 PM – 05:30 PM | Performance: Breaching Toward Other Futures

Location: Main

For their performance, Morehshin Allahyari and Shirin Fahimi will channel the revelation of the jinn figures Aisha Qandisha and Ilm al-raml as their method for telling and opening doors towards other futures. Aisha Qandisha is one of the most honored and fearsome jinn in Islam, known as “the opener”. When she possesses humans, she does not take over the host but rather opens them to an outside–to a storm of incoming jinn and demons, making them a traffic zone of cosmodromic data. Ilm al-raml refers to the foresight that the Earth holds within itself. Through its practice, this foresight is revealed and the future is seen, known, and breached.

Morehshin Allahyari, Artist

Shirin Fahimi, Artist


The Knockdown Center is an accessible venue. The conference entrance is located on 52-19 Flushing Ave at 54th St through a parking lot. The accessible entrance is available by ramp in front of the building. Restrooms are located on the ground floor lobby area and are wheelchair accessible.

(For accessible transportation inquiries from the Flushing Ave JM MTA Station to the Knockdown Center please contact or +1 347 378 9163 (voice only) by Thursday, February 7)

Day 1: American Sign Language interpretation and CART captioning will be provided

Day 2: American Sign Language interpretation will be provided


About the Refiguring the Future Exhibition 
Curated by REFRESH collective members Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Dorothy R. Santos, the exhibition title is inspired by artist Morehshin Allahyari’s work defining a concept of “refiguring” as a feminist, de-colonial, and activist practice. Informed by the punk ethos of do-it-yourself (DIY), the 18 artists featured in Refiguring the Future deeply mine the historical and cultural roots of our time, pull apart the artifice of contemporary technology, and sift through the pieces to forge new visions of what could become.

The exhibition will present 11 new works alongside re-presented immersive works by feminist, queer, decolonial, anti-racist, and anti-ableist artists concerned with our technological and political moment including: Morehshin AllahyariLee BlalockZach Blas*micha cárdenas* and Abraham AvnisanIn Her Interior (Virginia Barratt and Francesca da Rimini)*Mary MaggicLauren McCarthyshawné michaelain holloway*Claire and Martha PentecostSonya RapoportBarak adé Soleil,Sputniko! and Tomomi NishizawaStephanie Syjuco, and Pinar Yoldas*.

Names with asterik denotes participation in conference.

Refiguring the Future Schedule
Exhibition: February 8, 2019—March 31, 2019
205 Hudson Gallery, Hunter College Art Galleries
New York, NY 10013

Conference: February 9-10, 2019
February 9th, 2018
10am – 6pm
Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
695 Park Ave, New York, NY 10065

February 10th, 2018
12pm – 6pm
Knockdown Center
52-19 Flushing Ave, Maspeth, NY 11378

*Full detailed schedule coming soon

Technology’s effect on our future is always changing and difficult to understand. Through exploratory process and emotionally compelling output, Eyebeam believes that artists can help us visualize and realize a more just future. Eyebeam provides both space and support for a community of diverse, justice-driven artists. Our annual residency program, highly engaged community of alumni, advanced tools and resources, and shows and events help our artists bring their work to life and out into the world. Eyebeam enables people to think creatively and critically about technology’s effect on society, with the mission of revealing new paths toward a more just future for all.

REFRESH is a collaborative and politically engaged platform established in 2016. As a collective, they begin with inclusion as a starting point for pursuing sustainable artistic and curatorial practices across the fields of art, science, and technology.

Hunter College Art Galleries provide a space for critical engagement with art and pedagogy, bringing together historical scholarship, contemporary artistic practice, and experimental methodology.

Kaye Playhouse hosts internationally-acclaimed artists and music, dance and theatre companies for New York audiences, as well as serving as the centerpiece for the performing arts at Hunter College.

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