Our Past, Our Present, Our Future

Essay on Ten Futures
Co-curated: Fred Blauth and Dave Zak at 937 Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA

Maybe Jairan Sadeghi
portmanteau, 2017
Two Channel Video, with Ryan

We have a future.

We have been thinking about the future. Within the past few years, the future seems to be dangerous. The future seems to be a place of absolute utopia. The future is broken, or in the future, we are all fixed. Our dreams have come true. There is happiness, unity. There is kindness. Or maybe - there is more hate. One thing is true: we want to still exist.

The “we” being queer persons, people of color, dis/abled persons, men, women, non-binary people, witches, the environment, animals – everyone. We would like to still exist. That is where the fear and the desperation comes from. The love for our groups that we identify with. The love to stand with them no matter what. To protect them and to write the history incase no one else does. A paranoid feeling that we will not be there, but if it is up to us, we will ensure that we are still alive.

Ten Futures co-curated by Fred Blauth and Dave Zak, both former Bunker Projects board members, finds itself cementing the want and the need to exist. This is not the first time that Pittsburgh has wanted a future, and it will not be the last. Alisha Wormsley declared: “There Are Black People in the Future” in 2018, and felt the backlash for only stating the truth. Summer Jade Leavitt stated: “We Have a Future, Perhaps” in 2017, and addresses the future she wants once again in Ten Futures. Many more have asked the question, and have gotten many answers on what will happen. The city we have asked the question in is constantly changing. Everyday in Pittsburgh there is a new business, a place is demolished, a new place is created, people come, people go, but the future is not known. As we are all moving and evolving, Ten Futures takes the time to dissect and examine ten artists’ interpretation of the future they want to live in.

Shohei Katayama and Maybe Jairan Sadeghi question the damages human existence exerts onto the environment. As visitors walk into the gallery, they are met with a single Technicolor brain protected by a light. Almost like a plant in a dark room that needs to feel sunlight. It is a specimen on display for the viewer to examine and to understand it. Katayama’s heat reactant sculpture responds to the visitors who are near it. The colors change as our breath is placed onto it, depending on the temperature, to mirror the earth that is changing as we are living on it. Maybe Jairan Sadeghi’s installation shows two doctors attempting to save the earth. The video installation is grotesque and intense, but is shown with a series of gentle ceramics. Both sculptural installations showcase a delicate nature of examination of the earth. The ways in which we should be treating the environment, but continuously harm it and have to fix what we have done.

Bradley Weyandt
hair block pile, 2016
synthetic hair, epoxy resin
Photograph by J Houston

The future we want to live in is a future where the environment is healthy. In this future, Maybe Jairan Sadeghi’s operation went well, and we are living in a world where Bradley Weyandt and Paul Peng’s renderings of gender, sexuality, loneliness, connection, and many monster boys are real. Bradley Weyandt redacts the masculine qualities of objects that have been previously gendered. With both of his sculptures, he turns sturdy, hard objects such as cinder blocks into fun surreal visualizations. The cinder blocks are now made of synthetic hair. They are no longer able to create a structure that could withstand anyone. They redefine the notion of what is worthy and what is strong. Paul Peng shows us intimate displays of other worlds. Peng creates characters that possess human-like qualities, but they are monsters. The future Paul lives in is where the gentleness or the intensity of these monster boys are not exclusively inside their homes. They do not hide, but they are able to interact and to live with everyone else. There is no fear of them. These creatures are not sexual objects. They live together and within all of us. The monster boys are humorous, but not to be laughed at. They have the confidence we wish to possess, and the clothes we wished we had; even crocs look good on them.

Paul Peng
VI. Morning Thot, 2018
rag paper, graphite

Everest Pipkin & Loren Schmidthave created a quest. The artists have worked together to create a video game entitled: Spiral House. The game is tranquil, smooth, and relaxing. Yet, the narrative is to navigate the subconscious space and the architecture of a crumbling dream. The black and white, pixelated game allows the viewer to continuously work to get to the next level. It starts out with: I Dreamed I Lived in a Large Room, and continues to describe these moments as a poem unfolds, stanza by stanza.

Summer Jade Leavitt addressed an Ann Cvetkovich quote featured in Queer Times, Queer Becomings in 2017 with her previous exhibition involving the future: “In the absence of institutionalized documentation or in opposition to official histories, memory becomes a valuable historical resource, and ephemeral and personal collections of objects stand alongside the documents of the dominant culture in order to offer alternative modes of knowledge.” Summer Jade Leavitt set a time, and their partner did the same. The hope is always for the time to be in sync. To be in love at the same time. For one digital clock not to die before meeting the other in unity. To work and work, but never know or to never remember. Memory becomes archive, and Leavitt attempts to remember it all. Queer utopias can be real - if we allow them to exist in unison. She allows the viewer to help her on this quest by pressing the button. Maybe this time we will be in sync or maybe we will not, but we will continue to try.

Adam Milner
Let's build a house but not here, 2017
Bambi’s nail and Josh’s gold chain in NASA Lunar Regolith Brick (JSC-1A lunar soil simulant and bovine serum albumin)

Adam Milner places Bambi’s nail and Josh’s gold chain in one NASA Lunar Regolith Brick. Fred’s nose ring and Andy’s teeth in another. Cameron’s smashed penny and Fred’s retainer in one more. Adam lives on the moon, but remembers what it was like just to simply touch it. He states that it is just temporary, but what isn’t? By combining human made materials with untouchable materials such as the ones within these bricks, JSC-1A lunar soil simulant and bovine serum albumin, Milner combines the real with the unknown. Imagining a place where society’s structures are not implemented is not always the best way to cope with reality, but in the future, queer people are living on the moon. Our annoyances and triumphs are the same, but at least we are protected.

Celeste Neuhaus
Various natural and synthetic materials
Photograph by J Houston

Celeste Neuhaus asks: “How can space be made for wildness and mystery as we find ourselves collectively entangled of exploitive capitalist predation?” She answers her question by continuing to create these spaces. Inside each sculpture in CANARY IN THE COAL MINE, Celeste encapsulates a segment in our world that we have accepted as truth. Some mimic holidays with rabbits, plastic eggs, or even real eggs. One resembles a grave. An emblem that says Mother placed onto a burial site. The woman underneath will always be defined by this. Neuhaus collects their awards such as these fake flowers or memorials. These works combine synthetic and natural materials to live together in harmony. They question our relationship with symbols like holidays or grave sites and signs on an alchemical level. Centa Schumacher’s tapestry mirrors orb-like structures as a moment of clarity. The inspiration from this particular tapestry came from Schumacher’s time in Spain. Schumacher creates similar celestial scenes throughout her work, but has added a trim of spectacular this time. She has made a lens that, when in contact with light and focused in the right manner, can capture these scenes of color, transformation, and connection. They are a moment of mediation to pay attention to abstract forms and are fascinating to the viewer. Along with photography and video as a practice, Centa works with witchcraft and even has created her own oracle deck entitled: The Radiant Threshold.

Fred Blauth and Dave Zak have curated a future. Fred had continuously states that Ten Futures surrounds the idea of science fiction: “The term science fiction can be defined simply be reversing the phrase: fiction based on science. As technology expands at an exponential rate, so does the imaginations of those using it.” Both Blauth and Zak have allowed for these voices to live within the same room, and have let the viewers to question the world we will live in. The imaginations of these artists are real. The situations and worlds are real. We have accepted them, and they have accepted us.

We have a future.