From February–April three events led by Sreshta Rit Premnath and Avi Alpert as part of the exhibition Zach Blas: Contra-Internet
Saturday, February 10, 4–6pm
“Ecotopias” with Terike Haapoja
Saturday, March 17, 4–6pm
“Black Utopias” with Steffani Jemison
Saturday, April 14, 4–6pm
“Queer Utopias” with Zach Blas
Unlearning Dystopia is a public program series elaborating on the utopian ideals present in Art in General’s New Commission, Zach Blas: Contra-Internet. The publication Shifter has invited the artist and special guests to present three participatory workshops that explore ideas of ecotopias, black utopias, and queer utopias.
Unlearning Dystopia is the second installment of Learning and Unlearning, an experimental discussion series organized by Shifter. Shifter’s aim is to use shared gatherings to unlearn the assumptions and prejudices we hold about each other. In Unlearning Dystopia, we will focus on how we can unlearn the projected dystopias associated with ecology, blackness and queerness, and ask what possible futures can emerge through this process of unlearning. The series will unfold as three events that think beyond the academic lecture or seminar as a format.
Artists facilitate each event, featuring: Terike Haapoja on Ecotopias, Steffani Jemison on Black Utopias, and Zach Blas on Queer Utopias. The organizers Rit Premnath and Avi Alpert will guide us to ask, what other possible futures might emerge merely by unlearning dystopia?"
Note that during these events the exhibition Zach Blas: Contra-Internet will be on limited view. Visitors are welcome to experience the full exhibition directly before each event.
Shifter is a topical publication that aims to illuminate and broaden our understanding of the intersections between contemporary art, politics, and philosophy. Shifter remains malleable and responsive in its form and activities, and represents a diversity of positions and backgrounds in its contributors. The publication is edited by Sreshta Rit Premnath and Avi Alpert. www.shifter-magazine.com
Terike Haapoja is a visual artist based in New York. Haapoja’s work investigates the existential and political boundaries of our world with a specific focus in encounters with nature, death and other
species. Haapoja’s work raises questions about how different structures of exclusion and discrimination function as foundations for identity and culture. In the first edition of Unlearning Dystopia, Haapoja will help us rethink the imagined separation between human and natural worlds that animates humanist thinking and political action. www.terikehaapoja.net
Steffani Jemison is an artist based in Brooklyn. She uses time-based, photographic, and discursive platforms to examine “progress” and its alternatives. Jemison’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work has been presented at the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, The Drawing Center, LAXART, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, Bridget Donahue, Laurel Gitlen,Team Gallery, and others. Her work is in the public collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Kadist Foundation. www.steffanijemison.com
Zach Blas is an artist and writer whose practice confronts technologies of capture, security, and control. Currently, he is a Lecturer in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Blas’s recent works respond to biometric governmentality and network hegemony. Blas has exhibited and lectured internationally, recently at Gasworks, London; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore; e-flux, New York; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City. Blas’s writings can be found in Documentary Across Disciplines (The MIT Press and Haus der Kulturen der Welt); Queer: Documents of Contemporary Art (The MIT Press and Whitechapel Gallery); and e-flux journal. He is producing two books, an artist monograph, and Informatic Opacity: The Art of Defacement in Biometric Times, a theoretical study that considers biometric facial recognition as an emerging form of global governance alongside aesthetico-political refusals of recognition, such as masked protest. His work has been written about and featured in Artforum, Frieze, Art Review, Art Monthly, Mousse Magazine, The Guardian, and The New York Times. www.zachblas.info
General Support of Art in General is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services; Humanities New York; the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; the Toby D. Lewis Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland; and by individuals. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
The New Commissions Program is made possible by the Trust for Mutual Understanding; National Endowment for the Arts; Jerome Foundation; Ruth Ivor Foundation; and the Milton and Sally Avery Foundation. Support has also been provided by: Commissioners’ Circle leaders Elaine Goldman, Richard Massey, Jeffery Larsen and Joseph Bolduc; Commissioners’ Circle supporters John and Andrea Nylund and David Solo; and Commissioners’ Circle members Nader Ansary, Rob Colangelo, Don Erenberg, Taymour Grahne, Roya Khadjavi-Heidari, Mary Lapides, Eric Nylund, Leslie Ruff, Steve Shane, and Diana Wege.