Art and Speculative Futures

Art and Speculative Futures

International Conference

October 27-29, 2016, Barcelona, Catalonia

Organizing Team

Conference funded by: the project “Arte, arquitectura y nuevas materialidades” (HAR2014-59261-C2-1-P) and “Cartografía crítica del arte y la visualidad en la era de lo global: Nuevas metodologías, conceptos y enfoques analíticos II Parte” (HAR2013-43122P) and Grup Consolidat Agència d´Ajuts Universitaris de la Generalitat de Catalunya (2014 SGR1050). Research groups Art, Architecture and Digital Society and Art, Globalization, Interculturality. University of Barcelona. In collaboration with the project Mediaccions -Universitat Oberta de Catalunya- “D-FUTURE: Prácticas de futuro, espacios de creación digital e innovación social” (CSO2014-58196-P)

Conference Co-Chairs:
Lourdes Cirlot, Department of Art History, Universitat de Barcelona
Anna Maria Guasch, Department of Art History, Universitat de Barcelona
Pau Alsina, Studies of Art and Humanities, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Scientific Committee:
Elisenda Ardevol, Estudis d’Arts i Humanitats, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Mónica Bello, Arts@Cern
Nerea Calvillo, University of Warwick
Felicity Colman, Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University
Rick Dolphijn, Utrecht University
Fernando Domínguez Rubio, University of California San Diego
Elvira Dyangani Ose, Goldsmiths, University of London
Maria Antonia González, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Daniel López, Internet Interdisciplinary Institute
Marsha Meskimmon, Loughborough University
Jussi Parikka, University of Southampton
Sarah Pink, RMIT University
Ingeborg Reichle, University of Applied Arts Vienna
Raquel Rennó, Universidade do Recôncavo da Bahia
Chris Salter, Concordia University
>Juan Francisco Salázar, Wester Sydney University
Mariela Yeregui, Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero

Organizing Team:
Christian Alonso, Universitat de Barcelona
Pau Alsina, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Anna Maria Guasch, Universitat de Barcelona
Vanina Hofman, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Débora Lanzeni , Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Daniel López del Rincón, Universitat de Barcelona
Magda Polo, Universitat de Barcelona
Victor Ramírez, Universitat de Barcelona
Ana Rodríguez, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Eugenie Maria Theuer, University of Vienna and Universitat de Barcelona


CCCB, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona

8:30 – 9:30 am

9:30 – 10:00 am

Anna Maria Guasch, Universitat de Barcelona
Lourdes Cirlot, Universitat de Barcelona
Pau Alsina, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya


Florida International University
Chair: Christian Alonso
10:00 – 11:00 am

11:00 – 11:30 am

11:30 – 12:00 pm


Chair: Christian Alonso
12:00 – 14:00 pm

El arte (in)hospital. Narrativas artísticas en la era de los cosmopolitismos
Modesta di Paola, Universitat de Barcelona

Post-Abyssing the Future: Casting a Creative Post-Underdeveloped, Post-Peripheral, Tropical Eye
Renate Dohmen, The Open University

Ethnofuturism and the Archeology of the Future
Sara Mameni, University of California, Santa Cruz

Parafictional Artists: Speculations on Contemporary Authorship
Emma Brasó, Royal College of Arts, London

14:00 – 16:00 pm


Universidad Nacional de la Plata, Argentina
Chair: Daniel López del Rincón
16:00 – 17:30 pm

17:30 – 18:00 pm


Chair: Daniel López del Rincón
12:00 – 14:00 pm

Future as meta. Past, presence and future in the work of the Museum of American Art, Berlin
Martyna Dziekan, Jagiellonian University, Kraków / Humboldt University of Berlin

Fábulas de la Guerra Fría. Tecnología aeroespacial e imaginación política en España (1950-1975)
Ana Fernández Cebrián, Columbia University

Art History Cold Cases: Art Production in the Factory
Federica Martini, Swiss Institute, Rome

Tras los duros trabajos: terapias para el nuevo milenio
Rafael Pinilla, Universitat de Barcelona

Solimán López, ESAT – Escuela Superior de Arte y Tecnología, Valencia

Venue: CCCB, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona


Artist, Zurich
Chair: Anna Maria Guasch
10:00 – 11:30 am

11:30 – 12:00 pm

12:00 – 14:00 pm

14:00 – 16:00 pm


Chairs: Víctor Ramírez Tur, Ana R. Granell, Vanina Hofman
18:30 – 20:30 pm

Hacia una museología relacional
Lara Francisca Portolés Argüelles, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Applying Documentary Frameworks to Material Literacy
Marc Kosciejew, University of Malta

Topos/Atopos: Rethinking the Museum
Pablo V. Frankenberg, HG Merz Architects Museum Designers, Stuttgart

Feminist Politics of the Archive, Alternative Futures
Barbara Mahlknecht, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Acknowledged Excellence, Permanent Importance, Peculiar Value:The Metropolitan Museum’s Collection of Contemporary Art, 1870–1888
Ian Wallace, City University of New York

18:00 – 18:30 pm


Chairs: Víctor Ramírez Tur, Ana R. Granell, Vanina Hofman
16:00 – 18:00 pm

“Speculations on Anonymous Materials”: la especulación sobre la materialidad del capitalismo artístico como respuesta crítica a la estetización de la vida cotidiana
Federica Matelli, Universitat de Barcelona

From speculative design to technology roadmaps and back again Making use of speculative design in participatory agenda setting.
Marie Lena Heidingsfelder and Kora Kimpel, Fraunhofer Center for Responsible Research and Innovation / Institute of Time-based Media

Speculative Publication: The Design of Transformative Scenarios
Raafat Majzoub, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Materializing the Invisible Conflicts
Joana Capella Buendia and Maryia Virshych, BAU School of Design, Barcelona

Venue: ASM, Arts Santa Mònica


Utrecht University
Chair: Pau Alsina
10:00 – 11:30 am

11:30 – 12:00 pm


Chair: Pau Alsina
12:00 – 14:00 pm

Terrestrial Post-­Terrestrialism: Beyond Post Nature
Joana Moll, HANGAR /VIT Lab in Vic, Barcelona

A Glass of Water and the Wi­fi’s Password
Paola Barreto Leblanc, School of Visual Arts, Rio de Janeiro Federal University

A Manifesto for Metallic Avant-Garde. Art as Machinic Phylum in Marek Konieczny, Raphael Rogiński and Arslanbek Sultanbekov
Radek Przedpelski, Trinity College Dublin

Ecologies of Transmission. Electromagnetic Agency in the Anthropocene
Daniela Silvestrin

Thinking about art from the prism of speculation may involve the creation of alternative futures. Introducing doubt, babbling, the “what ifs”, counter-memory against the ideal need of a primal origin (or source of meaning where we recognise each other) and being open to discontinuity, chance and materiality in history means asking ourselves if it is possible to both make and think about art in different ways. If it is possible to envision another history from other horizons of meaning, not so much to pursuit its truth but to question the meaning and the value embedded in the stories of our truths. This conference thus proposes to speculate about futures as contemporary fables producing truth effects imbued with ethical and political significance. Speculations over futures within the arts seek to contradict traditional modes of conceiving art history by means of meanings that stimulate thinking rather than generating new truths with which we align ourselves. Fables or stories that make people think, like toolboxes, upon which history is being “fictionalized” from a political reality that makes it true, just the same way politics which does not yet exist are being “fictionalized” from a historical reality. We seek to explore not only one but multiple senses, not one but multiple and diverse art histories, ignored or omitted, including artists, materials, technologies or excluded geopolitical zones of repeated and commonly accepted stories. Such histories of art are to be investigated and revealed from a cosmopolitical scope that is aimed at building a common space where no one can claim the right to choose the central point of view from which a subject must be addressed. A space of coexistence of the otherness without the need of articulating consensus: a space of coexistence in the divergence that accounts for our constitutive heterogeneity. This conference aims at assembling differences in semantic-materials skeins of all those agents involved in the art world, whether they are visible or invisible to be revealed, human or non-human, objects, materials, speeches, technologies or relational infrastructures that build and are in turn built as specific forms of governance. Precisely these art infrastructures, inherited from the Enlightenment, promised modernity, development and progress, but their lives have been shown to be made of fragile relationships between people, things, and institutions that try to govern them. Today its very fragility allows us to approach these infrastructures through maintenance and repair in order to shed light on actors, places and moments that have been overlooked or silenced by their stories. This conference will examine alternative art histories that are committed to the material turn while moving forward, hand in hand, with methodological-theoretical perspectives such as media archaeology, new materialism, speculative realism or actor-network theory and social studies of science and technology exploring the world of the arts by means of speculation. Approaches that have already placed their focus on relationships, dismantling modern maxims that keep nature, society and technology confined.

Research Lines

  • Divergent and uncategorizable art histories, from a non-linear temporal approach, linked to perspectives of media archaeology or anarchive on the one hand and heteronymous or abject art approaches on the other.
  • Processes of rendering visible and invisible agents and agencies in the arts, linked to discourses on the human and nonhuman – regardless of whether these are animals, microbes or things-, the Anthropocene and reconstruction of the relationship between nature, technology and society.
  • Processes of rupture, maintenance and repairing practices related to art and infrastructure, linked to exhibitions, museums and exhibition centres or production and research spaces, etc.
  • Cosmopolitical approaches from the arts whose anti-homogenizing potential aims at describing the possibilities of mutual co-existence and living with difference, understanding of the creation of any political horizon that is based on the creation of sustainable relationships with otherness.
  • Diffractive approaches to the arts from a situated knowledge related to posthumanism and postgender studies.

Keywords: Alien, non human, non linear, uncategorized, divergent histories, an-archives, situated knowledge, diffractive, abject, anthropocene, posthumanism, dispositif etc.

Keynote 1.
Writing Transnational Histories: Cruising and Entanglement

Keynote: Dr. Alpesh Kantilal Patel, Florida International University
Convener: Christian Alonso, Universitat de Barcelona

Dr. Alpesh Kantilal Patel’s art historical scholarship, art criticism, and curating reflect his queer, anti-racist, transnational and practice-led approach to contemporary art. He is director of the MFA in Visual Arts program and an Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. This fall, he is Critical Fellow at Cranbrook Academy of Art where he is delivering two keynote lectures on the subject ‘artistic practice as theory and as entangled with the world’. His monograph ‘Writing transnational South Asian art histories: cruising and entanglement’ is forthcoming from Manchester University Press (June 2017). He recently completed research supported by the Fulbright Foundation for his book project ‘Contemporary Eastern European art history: queer practices and transregional frames’. In the spring of 2017, he will chair the panel ‘Art History as Créolité/Creolising Art History’ for the annual conference of the Association of Art Historians in England. A frequent contributor of exhibition reviews to, Dr. Patel has published in Artforum (print), Art in America,, and frieze. Click here for more information on the book Creolizing Europe, to which he contributed a chapter related to the topic of the conference.

Keynote 2.
Maria de los Ángeles de Rueda

Keynote: Maria de los Ángeles de Rueda, Universidad Nacional de la Plata, Argentina
Convener: Daniel López del Rincón, Universitat de Barcelona

Maria de los Ángeles de Rueda Art History professor at Universidad Nacional de La Plata Plata (UNLP), on matters related to the visual arts in the European and Latin American Modernity. It is responsible for several seminars at the Masters Conservation of Architectural and Cultural Heritage, the Master of Aesthetics and Art Theory and Comparative Literature Master (attached to the UNLP). She has been Director of the Institute of History of Argentine and American Art (2005-2014) and Director of the Master of Aesthetics and Art Theory (2005-2012). She currently heads the project Territoriality, Arts and Media: aesthetic collaborative practices around issues of territory. She has published numerous articles on contemporary art, which address various topics such as archive and the city, art and media, and photography related to the body politic. Among the books (as author and editor), include: Arte y Utopía: la ciudad desde las artes visuales (Asunto Impreso Ediciones, 2003), Arte y Medios: entre la cultura de masas y la cultura de redes (Al Margen Ediciones, 2014) and Revoluciones, Apropiaciones y Críticas a la Modernidad. Itinerarios del Arte Moderno entre América Latina y Europa 1830-1945(Ediciones de la UNLP, 2015).

Keynote 3.
The Cracks of the Contemporary

Keynote: Rick Dolphijn, Utrecht University
Convener: Pau Alsina, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Rick Dolphijn is a writer and a philosopher. He teaches and does research at Utrecht University, Faculty of Humanities. From 2017 to 2020 he will be Honorary Associate Professor at Hong Kong University (Hong Kong). He wrote Foodscapes, Towards a Deleuzian Ethics of Consumption (Eburon/University of Chicago Press 2004) and New Materialism: Interviews and Cartographies (Open Humanities Press 2012, with Iris van der Tuin). He has recently published This Deleuzian Century: Art, Activism, Life (edited by Rosi Braidotti, Brill/Rodopi 2014/5). He writes on the contemporary, on art, theory and politics. Currently he is finishing a new monograph entitled Surfaces: How Philosophy and Art Matter.

Keynote 4.
The Cosmopolitical Forest

Keynote: Ursula Biemann, Artist, Zurich
Convener: Anna Maria Guasch, Universitat de Barcelona

Ursula Biemann is an artist, writer, and video essayist based in Zurich, Switzerland. Her artistic practice is strongly research oriented and involves fieldwork in remote locations where she investigates climate change and the ecologies of oil, ice, forest and water, as in the projects Egyptian Chemistry (2012), Deep Weather (2013) and Forest Law (2014) and most recently in Subatlantic (2015 and Biosemiotic Borneo (2016). Her video installations are exhibited worldwide in museums and at international art biennials in Liverpool, Sharjah, Shanghai, Sevilla, Istanbul, Montreal, Venice and Sao Paulo. She had comprehensive solo exhibitions at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Lentos Museum Linz, Bildmuseet Umea, and Helmhaus Zurich. Biemann is part of the collaborative World of Matter project ( and received the 2009 Prix Meret Oppenheim, the national art award of Switzerland. (


CCCB, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona
Carrer de Montalegre 5, 08001 Barcelona, Catalonia

Arts Santa Mònica
La Rambla 7, 08002 Barcelona, Catalonia