Ethnofuturism and the Archeology of the Future

SESSION A: Cosmopolitism
Day 1. Thursday, 27th October.
12:00 – 14:00
Venue: CCCB: Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona

In her video project titled “In The Future They Ate From The Finest Porcelain” (2014), Larissa Sansour enters the fictional world of a resistance group who deposit porcelain remains of an imaginary civilization into the ground in order to influence history and support their claims to land and the sovereignty of their people. Shuttling between the past and the future, the film uses science fiction aesthetics and speculative language to re-write the history of the future and to lay claim to home. Similarly, Moreshin Allahyari’s ongoing project titled, “Material Speculation” (2015), reconstructs archeological artifacts destroyed by ISIS in 3D digital format. Her work attempts to archive these lost objects by including a digital memory card inside each newly constructed artifact so as to influence the future of the past. As with Sansour’s work, Allahyari uses archeology–the science of past-making–to enter into the future. Yet unlike archeology’s attachment to stable land and unmoving grounds, these artists propose a virtual archeology of lands, spaces and artifacts that are already lost. Rather than locating their archeology within a steady site, they work with shifting and moving grounds that are often intangible, speculative or imaginary.

In my paper, I argue that artists such as Sansour and Allahyari launch an ethnofuturist aesthetics geared towards a sustained relationship with otherness. Their work defy temporalities of “past”, “present”, “future” by claiming their politics in speculative thought. Their works move into the imaginative space of the future and the speculative space of hope, where they build homes on unstable and shifting grounds.

Sara Mameni
University of California, Santa Cruz

Sara Mameni is a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has a PhD in Art History from the University of California, San Diego. Her research focuses on artistic practices in the Middle-East and the diaspora with a focus on Iran. She has forthcoming essays in the journal of Women and Performance. She has published essays in Al-Raida Journal, Acta Historia Artium, Fuse Magazine, Canadian Art magazine and Fillip Review.

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