What Now? 2016
On Future Identities

micha cárdenas, Becoming Dragon, 2008. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Elle Mehrmand


May 20, 2016–May 21, 2016
Public Program
What Now? 2016
Public Program

What Now? 2016
On Future Identities

Symposium Booklet: Download PDF

Friday, May 20, 4pm–7pm
Saturday, May 21, 1.30pm–6pm

New School University Center (Map)
63 5th Avenue at 13th St, New York
Bob and Sheila Hoerle Lecture Hall, UL 105.
Free admission, please RSVP to [email protected]
Seating available on a first come first served basis

Click here for the Symposium Program Schedule

Click here to view dedicated What Now? website and additional resources.

With keynote on Friday May 20 at 6pm by Dr. micha cárdenas

What Now 2016: On Future Identities will examine notions of ‘future identities’, through discussions around the construction of the self, queer theory, self-determination, mutability, the body, technology and social media, and the ever-evolving relationship between the digital and the material. The symposium will bring together contributions from artists, curators, educators, cultural theorists, and psychologists, alongside artists’ interventions.

The symposium will consider how this contemporary political moment is different from the kinds of activism that arose around identity politics during the 1960s-1990s, and how new thinking might shape ideas around ‘performing citizenship’ or creating a new sense of commons in the future. Reflecting on the Vera List Center for Art and Politics’ focus theme of ‘Post-Democracy’, the final panel will also address what this could mean in relation to the formation of identity in relation to the nation state, multi-faceted citizenship, or conversely, the increasing condition of ‘statelessness’.

What Now? 2016: On Future Identities continues and advances the long-term lines of inquiry and research that began with the previous 2014 and 2015 symposia. Just as the importance of ‘listening’ came out of the discussions on What Now? 2014: Collaboration & Collectivity, ‘self-determination’ emerged from What Now? 2015: The Politics of Listening as a lens through which to explore the symposium topic for 2016.

Presenters and panelists include Beatriz Balanta, Assistant Professor of Art History, SMU | Meadows School of the Arts, Texas; Anne Barlow, Director, Art in General, New York; Morgan Bassichis, writer and performer, New York; Daniel Bejar, artist, New York; micha cárdenas, artist/theorist and Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences and Interactive Media Design at the University of Washington, Bothell; Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor, New York University; Stamatina Gregory, Associate Dean, School of Art, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art; Carin Kuoni, Director and Curator, Vera List Center for Art and Politics, The New School, New York; Cliff Leek, Managing Editor, Men and Masculinities; Evan Malater, writer and psychoanalyst, New York; Carlos Motta, artist, New York; Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, philologist, and director of the Department of Eagles foundation, Tirana, Albania; Sondra Perry, artist, Houston, Texas; Jackson Polys, artist, Alaska and New York; Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, Assistant Professor and Head of Reference at the Graduate Center Library, CUNY, New York; Jeannine Tang, Senior Academic Advisor, LUMA Foundation Fellow, Graduate Committee, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York; Alise Tifentale, art & photography historian and curator, New York; Wu Tsang, artist, Los Angeles; and Soyoung Yoon, Program Director and Assistant Professor of Art History & Visual Studies, The New School, New York.

2016 Program Advisers: Claire Barliant Managing Editor of Publications at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge; Carin Kuoni, Director and Curator, Vera List Center for Art and Politics, The New School, New York; Thomas Lax, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

2016 Concept Development: Anne Barlow, Lindsey Berfond and Kristen Chappa, Art in General, New York.


FRIDAY, MAY 20, 4:00-7:00 PM

4:00 pm
Welcome and Introduction
Anne Barlow and Carin Kuoni

4:15-5:45 pm
SESSION ONE: Shifting Conversations—Identity Politics Today
Participants: Cliff Leek, Carlos Motta, Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, Jeannine Tang
Moderator: Stamatina Gregory

This panel explores how the contemporary political moment is different from activism around identity politics in the 1960s-1990s, taking into account distinct definitions from a global perspective, and inquiring into how frames of reference describing this term have shifted over time. What are key questions today in terms of the relationship between identity and self-determination? Furthermore, how do we approach the very act of “naming” identities today as fluid, mutable, and multiple constructions?

6:00-7:00 pm
KEYNOTE presentation by Dr. micha cárdenas: Health Beyond Gender

In this talk, cárdenas will discuss healing and health technologies throughout her work with virtual reality, science fiction, wearable electronics, bioart, fashion design, and creative coding. In the face of violence, cárdenas describes an approach to design and art that focuses on the survival and health of trans women of color in order to create futures of health for all people who do not fit into traditional representations of binary gender.

SATURDAY, MAY 21, 1:30-6:00 pm

1:30-2:00 pm
LECTURE by Evan Malater, LCSW: The Untidy Ego in the Age of the Prosthetic Gods

Malater will present a cross-genre talk on the topics of identity, technology, and the future through the lenses of psychoanalysis, philosophy, and culture. Marie Kondo’s best selling books on “tidying” are presented as symptomatic of a certain crisis in choice and ego formation, in conjunction with a discussion of identity development via identification and cathexis. Through these coordinates, the stakes of the Freudian model in a contemporary context will be investigated.

2:00-3:30 pm
SESSION TWO: Technology and Presentations of the Self
Participants: Daniel Bejar, Sondra Perry, Alise Tifentale
Moderator: Soyoung Yoon

This panel explores how new technologies are influencing, complicating, and possibly freeing notions of identity. How will technology and social media continue to affect personal and public representations of identity, including the proliferation of the “selfie”? Speakers will address how flexible identities are being performed today, and speculate on how they might manifest in the future.

3:30-3:45 pm
PERFORMANCE by Morgan Bassichis

Bassichis’ performances draw on stand-up comedy and folktales, often engaging specific places and events, to explore the uses and abuses of history. He has developed a special artistic intervention for the 2016 symposium topic “On Future Identities” as a prompt.

3:45-4:00 pm

4:00-4:30 pm

Wu Tsang is an artist, performer and filmmaker. Her films, performances, and installations have been presented at museums and film festivals internationally. Tsang’s first feature Wildness (2012) premiered at MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight and won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at Outfest Los Angeles. Her recent short You’re Dead to Me premiered on PBS and won the 2014 Imagen Award for Best Short.

4:30-6:00 pm
SESSION THREE: Post-democracy and Identity
Participants: Paula Chakravartty, Jackson Polys, Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Moderator: Beatriz Balanta

Within the larger context of ideas around “post-democracy,” this panel explores how we are currently addressing individual vs. communal identity at the structural level, and in issues of governance. What does the future hold for the influence of nationhood in the formation of identity, and the umbrella of the state as a space of belonging? The rising phenomena of refugee crises and the condition of ‘statelessness’ (whether imposed or chosen) problematize such formal modes of affiliation. Exemplar or alternative models for organizing structures of accountability in activism and movement building will be discussed.

6:00 pm
Closing Remarks

A new book series relating to the What Now?; symposia from 2015 through 2017 will be produced with Black Dog Publishing Ltd., a project that was made possible in part by the the Institute of Museum and Library Services (MA-10-14-0304-14). Read more about the previous symposia below:

What Now? 2016: On Future Identities
Symposium Booklet: Download PDF

What Now? 2015: The Politics of Listening
Symposium Booklet: Download PDF

What Now? 2014: Collaboration & Collectivity
Symposium Booklet: Download PDF

Art in General would like to extend special thanks to the key funders of What Now? 2016; the Institute of Museum and Library Services (MA-10-14-0304-14), the Trust for Mutual Understanding for their generous support of this initiative. 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. We would like to acknowledge the contributions of the What Now? 2016 program advisers. The Vera List Center would like to also thank the Center’s Advisory Committee.

What Now? 2016 Committee: Frederieke Taylor, Frederieke Taylor Gallery, Chair; Michael Cohn, Michael Cohn Fine Art Consultants; Elizabeth Jacoby, BSJ Fine Art; Todd Levin, Levin Art Group; and Liz Parks, Parks Fine Art.

Press contact – Lindsey Berfond: [email protected]

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Art in General was founded in 1981 and supports the production of new work by local and international artists primarily through its New Commissions Program and its International Collaborations program. Art in General also produces an annual symposium What Now? on critical and timely issues in artistic and curatorial practice.

General Support of Art in General is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; the Cowles Foundation; 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; The Greenwich Collection; and the Milton and Sally Avery Foundation. Support has also been provided by Commissioners’ Circle leaders Jeffery Larsen and Joseph Bolduc; Commissioners’ Circle supporters Richard Massey and David Solo, and Commissioners’ Circle members Nader Ansary, Rob Colangelo, Don Erenberg, Roya Khadjavi-Heidari, Mary Lapides, and Leslie Ruff.