News from Somewhere
Showing at Culture Lab LIC gallery
May 4 - 28, 2023
Opening Reception May 4, 6 – 9
5-25 46th Ave, Queens, NY, 11101
News from Somewhere is a social study presented via multimedia art installation. It aims to provoke reflection upon social structures and power dynamics.
In 1890, English novelist, poet, and textile designer William Morris wrote News from Nowhere, a utopian, socio-futuristic novel based on his encounters with the socialists and anarchists of his time. In it, he tells the story of a Victorian-era Londoner who wakes up in a future London with no child labor, no wage labor, even without money or private property. The society he encounters lives in harmony, each afforded what they need to live happily and comfortably, each free in individual expression - be it through craft, farming, art, etc. - but woven together by community. His visit lasts a few days, and he spends his time learning about his hosts’ culture, history, economy, and day-to-day life, while trying to remain “undercover,” so as not to betray his presence, or perhaps to not wake from the dream.
Morris’ novel has been alluded to by anarchists as an example of one vision of a possible future society based on justice, equality, and sustainability; void of poverty, exploitation, and authoritarianism. And while anarchist theory has a rich intellectual lineage and tradition, artistic expressions like Morris’ are generally few and far between.
News from Somewhere is a nod to Morris’ novel in name and inspiration, but is otherwise a fresh and modern attempt at imagining and articulating a future world based on justice and equality, built upon concepts of mutual aid, cooperation, and direct action - practices with a long history, but continuously re-inspired by the ever-bountiful and unrelenting source that is violence towards people of color, exploitation of workers and the poor, proliferation of nationalism and authoritarianism, and top-down power structures which allow those with power and capital to multiply and hoard their assets.
In short, News from Somewhere is a modern utopian piece. By selecting differently numbered societies on a touchscreen, the audience is immersed in the sonic results of a social study conducted by five world-class improvisers, each of whom is involved in movements for social justice in their own ways, each of whom has chosen the sound arts as their primary form of artistic expression. The result is non-musical and anti-aesthetical; a sonic bridge that links the idea of society with physical creative collaboration, mutual aid, and evolution. Today’s rapid environmental degradation and social upheavals demand new systems. The first step toward a new world is imagining it.