Earlier this year, the Tricentennial-focused, six-venue Common Currents: 1718-2018 exhibition invited 300 San Antonio artists to consider one year in the city’s long history. Now, on a much smaller scale, one art exhibition looks toward the future.
Future Currents: San Antonio 2038-2048, opening Saturday at Dock Space Gallery in Southtown, invites 10 local artists to consider what San Antonio might look like in the decades to come.
Dock Space Gallery Director Bill FitzGibbons said the success of Common Currents begged a question, “What’s happening with San Antonio going forward?” Future Currents was the result.
FitzGibbons said his first thought was to focus on the immediate future, from 2018-2028, but the artists he invited told him that didn’t go far enough. Jumping 20 years ahead gave them “a great challenge to their imagination,” he said, along with an opportunity for “a bit of satire.”
“We’ve gotten some very positive thoughts about the future, and some disastrous ones,” FitzGibbons said.
Natural disasters, which some artists appear to consider inevitable, figure in several works in the show. A collaborative photocollage by artists Kelly O’Connor and Bryan Rindfuss, titled Tower Colony, depicts irradiated feral cats occupying a Hemisfair decimated by Hurricane Harold of 2043.
Rindfuss also made a solo photographic work for the show, Remains of the HemisFair History Museum, a dystopic still-life depicting the ruins of that imagined institution.
“Built for HemisFair ’68, the fascinating but forgotten Women’s Pavilion sat empty for nearly 60 years until the HemisFair History Museum (HHM) secured adequate funding to purchase the neglected structure and begin a painstaking restoration project,” reads a statement Rindfuss wrote to accompany the artwork.
An “8.5 magnitude earthquake attributed to rogue fracking in deserted areas of Bexar County” brought the museum and other structures down, Rindfuss imagines in his statement.
Artist Lauren Mojica also uses trash and climatic upheaval as a vehicle for her TrashBrella, an umbrella purportedly made from recycled garbage. Mojica represents 2042, a time when “each hurricane that comes through has been more savage than the last,” as her statement reads, the umbrella offering scant protection.
In a digitally manipulated photographic portrait, artist Gary Sweeney celebrates resilience and disaster simultaneously, with characteristic dark humor. His image depicts a popular local personality amidst a smoking, apocalyptic urban landscape. The image caption reads, “It’s 2045 and Mike Casey is still here,” attributing further agelessness to the 80-year-old “Mayor of King William.”
Imagined apocalypses won’t be limited to the human species, according to artist John Medina. His spray-painted mixed media sculpture, titled Chips and ¿Que es Eso?, imagines “ancient aliens that visited our Aztec ancestors returning in 2040,” only to become fodder for a popular new H-E-B product.
Though satire and humor run throughout the exhibition, a note of seriousness underlies these artists’ concerns with environmental catastrophe and human-caused disasters.
The artworks of Rindfuss and O’Connor “could be called conceptual calls to action,” Rindfuss said in an email to the Rivard Report, “since both imagined disasters are presented as the results of environmental ignorance and neglect.”
Artist Ruth Buentello contributes an acrylic-on-paper depiction of “Hemisphere 2041,” a hopeful revisitation of a signature moment when Latino culture was clearly recognized as an asset for the community and the world, she noted in her statement for the show.
“While Common Currents allowed for an innovative rewriting of history, Future Currents allows for a sense of dreaming and wonder,” said Dock Space Gallery archivist and preparator Jordyn Patrias.
FitzGibbons said he’s excited to see the idea for the Future Currents exhibition come to fruition this weekend. “I think that it’s going to make people think about what’s happening” right now, he said, continuing with a pertinent question: “What are our kids going to be entering into in the next few decades?”
Future Currents: San Antonio 2038-2048 opens for the Second Saturday art walk on June 9, from 7-10 p.m. at Dock Space Gallery, located at 107 Lone Star Blvd.