Yuliya Ruzhechka

The future is (not) guilty
Curated by Yuliya Ruzhechka

“The future cannot be forecast, but it can be explained”.

E. F. Schumacher

Decrypting the past in order to forecast the future doesn’t seem an emergency any more. But a new urgency appears : to construct knowledge in order to build a different future. In this perspective, the connections between past, present and future exceed the linear model and enter a tricky pathway of interconnections and enigmas. Dealing with these issues in the artistic sphere becomes an act of engagement. Connecting it with the concept of archive becomes a method of knowledge construction and of social, esthetical and political reflexion. The archive role here isn’t to compile the information of the past. The real value of each piece of this information appears in inter-connexion with other ones, when all together, confronted to a viewer/reader/user/spectator they become  knowledge. The archive role here is to create a context for reflexion out of a puzzle of information, images and concepts. 

As a message in a bottle that we send to an unknown and unpredicted future. Would it be written with an existing language, or rather encoded within cryptological communication systems, such as, for example, floriography ?  Would it be a narrative on how we imagine the future, future-related issues and us dealing with them ? Would we cohabit with Artificial Intelligence and how ? How does archive-related gestures such as unfolding and revealing appeal to the future ? 

If the archive is what relates us to the past, what does relate us to the future ? What a future oriented archive will look like ? Which of its aspects differentiate it from a classique archive ? And which ones, on the contrary, still relate it to the past, as an idea of a palimpsest, multilayered messages, revealing themselves progressively to those who take their time to decrypt ? What if the archive’s main characteristic was a privilege of access to information that enables to construct the knowledge and to have a key for the future ? To encode the future ? To manipulate it ? To understand the pattern that enables us to predict the future ? 

If constructing a future-oriented archive is like preparing a message in a bottle / time capsule for future, what would be your message ?

Why “The future is (not) guilty” ? A term that relates us to the juridical sphere ? By this project we propose you a (forensic) investigation on the essence of an archive and on the future at the same time, searching for their interconnexion, their common issues. It’s an invitation to reflect on those concepts, those open-ended questions, through six photographic projects.

Six artists create interactive displays, such a playground for visitors to experience the future through activations of artistic projects : manipulating images, creating their own narratives, experiencing artistic installations, moving around or waiting in order to reveal images. Each of artistic works question different aspects of a future-oriented archive : the very essence of archive and the knowledge construction; the visual language or code we can use to construct knowledge, to “send” our messages to future; the futurist vision based on our past experience; our present knowledge and our idea about the future; political aspects of an archive…

What, how and why does the archive contain ? What meaning does it have in the perspective of the future ? Can we explain the future within this archive ? How does different elements of an archive (and within this exhibition – different projects) construct meaning/ knowledge ? How do we deal with this knowledge ? How do we create a future-oriented archive, our message in a bottle ? 

Each part of this project (physical exhibition, digital project, catalog) explores the idea of interactivity and activation, highlighting the important role (and the responsibility) of viewer/visitor/reader.

One of key ideas of this project is that an archive is never neutral and is always multilayered (visually, conceptually, through interconnections of different materials).

The exhibition aim is to create a context for visitors to explore the concept of a future-oriented archive through different angles and to highlight the role and the responsibility of a visitor by invitation to activations. As in an archive, the responsibility of knowledge construction is shared between those who construct, those who activate it and those whose role is to connect both of them with the principles of archiving and of decrypting an archive. 

Initially designed as a part of Organ Vida photographic festival and for Šira gallery in Zagreb, this project methodology has as a starting point the specificity of that space which was run in the 1970s by the Gorgona artistic group. This group of artists’ work was based on two key concepts : connecting art with everyday life and engaging collaborative artistic practice.  That’s why “The archive is (not) guilty” develops as a collaborative project, with horizontal curatorial methodology, with a focus on this project as a common one, and not a merge between six different artistic projects. This methodology is also relevant to the topic itself, as we consider an archive as a participative interactive “space” (initially physical, but also mental and metaphysical).

An archive itself is a constantly developing structure that engages different protagonists and participants in a collaborative processus, that seeks for answers, but actually fosters more open-ended questions.

The world pandemic crisis during spring 2020 transformed our exhibition in a multilayered project with three parts : digital project, catalog and exhibition. Our group’s reflections about messages in a bottle for future got another meaning : the lockdown made our future more uncertain and fragile, created a worrisome atmosphere and anxiety, that are often related to reflections on future. Suddenly the process of this project creating became a message itself, a statement, an engagement : initiating discussions and reflections through a collaborative curatorial practice became an answer and a solution. It became our message in a bottle for the future.

Yuliya Ruzhechka is a cultural project manager, photographer and journalist. With more than 10 years’ experience as a photographer and a journalist, she also holds is an MA in Photography and Plastic Arts from Université Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis and a MA in International Cultural Cooperation. Currently she is in charge of the Month of Photography in Grenoble, France, held by the image education NGO La Maison de l’Image. Interested in creating links within different artistic and science disciplines and in photography curation, she aspires to develop multidisciplinary projects with social impact.