Program Type: 
Dissident Futures
October 18, 2013 - February 02, 2014
Downstairs Galleries


Also on view: Kota Ezawa's Boardwalk
More info »
Artworks shown on this page:

Shane Hope, atomic_kill_threads, 2012, Archival pigment print, 48” x 72”, Courtesy of the artist

Basim Magdy, An Abstract Reality Leaves You Lonely in The Spotlight, 2010, Spray paint and acrylic on paper, 13 x 16 15/16 in., Courtesy of Marisa Newman Projects, New York.

Brody Condon, Future Gestalt, 2012, 40:24 min., Audio-visual/Time-based media, “Smoke” (1967) © Tony Smith Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Courtesy of Kadist Art Foundation

Cauleen Smith, Through the Ark Over The Rainbow Secret Life, 2012, Mixed-media Installation, HD Video, 19:01 min, Courtesy of the artist

David Huffman, Sideshow, 2008, Acrylic, oil, glitter, collage on paper, 52 x 120 in., Courtesy of the artist

Dissident Futures
Oct 18, 2013–Feb 2, 2014
Downstairs Galleries
Download brochure » (PDF, 900kb)

Dissident Futures is an investigation into possible alternative futures, particularly those that question or overturn conventional notions of innovation in biological, social, environmental, and technological structures. Either through active engagement with future studies or through intuitive investigation, the artists and designers in Dissident Futures envision a future that expands beyond our conventional expectations. Loosely structured around three thematic strands—the utopian, the speculative, and the pragmatic—the exhibition furthers our understanding of how artists are addressing potentiality and the unknown, from the most desired future to the most feared. Basim Magdy’s sequenced slide projection featuring spectral images of the volcanic region of Spain’s Lanzarote island as a possible future memory, David Huffman’s paintings of wandering traumanauts, Melanie Gilligan’s experimental multi-episode science fiction drama where personal needs are inextricably linked to exchange value, and Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen’s object designs that maximize the movements of individual factory workers are examples of how this exhibition resets possible ways to approach the future.

Dissident Futures explores a series of fundamental questions: How do artists imagine and question how power links innovation and the future when considering wide-ranging shifts, from biological expansion to space technology? How can artists’ empathetic approaches to curiosity and doubt contribute to the larger field of future thinking? What do artists contribute to envisioning real and speculative futures?

The exhibition features an international roster of artists working in video and film, photography, painting, installation, sculpture, and performance, who engage wide-ranging topics including: the occult, science fiction, and outer space; afro-futurism; architecture and the environment, technology, the nature of human feeling, and language; mapping and atemporality; and post-apocalypse scenarios.

Participating artists are: Neïl Beloufa, Heman Chong and Anthony Marcellini, Peter Coffin, Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen, Brody Condon, Future Cities Lab, Melanie Gilligan, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Shane Hope, David Huffman, Paul Laffoley, Basim Magdy, Dan Mills, The Otolith Group, Trevor Paglen, Katie Paterson, Kamau Amu Patton, Connie Samaras, and Cauleen Smith.

Dissident Futures is curated by Betti-Sue Hertz, YBCA’s Director of Visual Arts. It is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue edited by Betti-Sue Hertz and Ceci Moss, YBCA’s Visual Arts Assistant Curator.

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  • Beyond Mars, Earth: Talk by Adam Stelzner
    Oct 15, 2013 6:30pm
    SF Jazz Center, Miner Auditorium, 201 Franklin Street

    Adam Steltzner is the person responsible for putting space geeks the world over through the "seven minutes of terror" on August 6, 2012. As the lead engineer of Curiosity rover's Entry, Descent, and Landing phase, he helped create the sky crane and successfully drop one of the most advanced robots in history onto another planet.

    In over two decades of work at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Steltzner has had a hand in the Galileo, Cassini, and Mars Pathfinder missions as well as the Shuttle-Mir Program. He's a native of the Bay Area, briefly studied jazz, and came to physics and engineering after taking an astronomy class to better understand the constellations.

    In collaboration with the Long Now Foundation, as part of their Seminars about Long-Term Thinking:

  • Artist Lecture by Paul Laffoley
    Oct 17, 2013 6:30pm
    San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), Lecture Hall, 800 Chestnut Street
    Free and open to the public

    SFAI will present a lecture with Paul Laffoley as part of the Visiting Artist and Scholars series

  • Dissident Futures
    October 17, 2013 – February 2, 2014
    Downstairs Galleries

  • Opening Night Party
    Oct 18, 2013 7:00pm – 9:00pm
    Grand Lobby
    $12 in Advance / $15 at the Door / YBCA Members and YBCA:You FREE

    Come celebrate the opening of Dissident Futures with an evening of live music, DJs, and performance. Throughout the night, DJs Nihar, Tristes Tropiques, Jason P and Smac from San Francisco’s premier monthly dance event, Haçeteria, will play the electronic dance music rooted in the rave era, including House, Acid, Techno, New Beat, and Electronic Body Music, with visuals from the Haçeteria A/V team. At 8 PM, Dissident Futures exhibiting artist Kamau Amu Patton will join Los Angeles-based artist Suzy Poling as “Antenna Prism Mirror” in an ongoing collaborative project exploring light, sound, video, film, and performance. Patton and Poling will come together on a new work based upon their mutual interest in futuristic landscapes, cityscapes, and the evolution of human communities on spaceship earth. At 9 PM, the funky, dark electro project kit n c.l.a.w.s. (Kit Clayton and Brian D. Hock) will continue the dance party with beats produced through their minimal, all hardware setup.

    Curators Circle ($500+) and above are invited to an exclusive tour from 6-7 PM. Groundbreaker ($300+) and above are welcome in our Donor Lounge from 7-9 PM. Discoverer Members ($165+) and above are invited to a preview reception from 7-8 PM.

  • Artists in Conversation
    Oct 19, 2013 1:00pm – 3:00pm
    Large Conference Room
    FREE with gallery admission

    Join us for an informative conversation with Dissident Futures artists Revital Cohen, Shane Hope, David Huffman, Jason Kelly Johnson of Future Cities Lab, Basim Magdy, Dan Mills, Kamau Amu Patton, and Connie Samaras.

  • Lecture by Kazys Varnelis
    Oct 21, 2013 6:00pm
    California College of the Arts (SF Campus), Timkin Lecture Hall, 1111 Eighth Street

    Kazys Varnelis is a historian and theorist of architecture, specializing in network culture. He is the director of the Network Architecture Lab at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and a founding member of conceptual architecture practice AUDC.

    Varnelis is a contributor to the Dissident Futures catalog. Info: 415.703.9562 or

  • YBCA:You Art Savvy
    Jan 16, 2014 7:00pm
    YBCA Galleries

    Public: FREE with gallery admission

    Talk about art with YBCA:You! During this brief guided tour in the gallery, we’ll use Visual Thinking Strategies to practice deep observation and discuss two or three works in the exhibition. Meet at the pink YBCA:You booth in the Grand Lobby.

  • Gallery Performance: Myra Melford and Ian Winters
    Jan 25, 2014 4:00pm – 5:00pm
    Downstairs Galleries
    FREE with gallery admission

    In conjunction with Dissident Futures, musician Myra Melford and video artist Ian Winters will collaborate on an improvised performance within the galleries using prepared and amplified piano with live video projection in an effort to re-imagine the piano as a 21st century instrument.

    YBCA was recently awarded a two-year grant from the Doris Duke Foundation to fund an artist residency with Myra Melford, winner of the prestigious 2012 Alpert Award in the Arts for Music, the 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, and numerous others.

    Part of the Jazz@YBCA program, a series of programmatic pilots testing innovative ways to strengthen the Bay Area jazz ecology and attract new audiences.

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Related Programs

November 23, 2013

YBCA invites you to participate in one-day interactive festival in conjunction with the Dissident Futures visual arts exhibit.

November 15, 2013 - February 23, 2014
Upstairs Galleries

Dissident Futures Annex is an extension of the exhibition in our Downstairs Galleries, featuring additional works by Lynn Hershman Leeson, Katie Paterson, and Connie Samaras.

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Artist Bio

Neïl Beloufa »
Heman Chong & Anthony Marcellini »
Peter Coffin »
Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen »
Brody Condon »
Future Cities Lab »
Melanie Gilligan »
Lynn Hershman Leeson »
Shane Hope »
David Huffman »
Paul Laffoley »
Basim Magdy »
Dan Mills »
The Otolith Group »
Trevor Paglen »
Katie Paterson »
Kamau Amu Patton »
Connie Samaras »
Cauleen Smith »

Dissident Futures is made possible through the generous support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Ana Albir.

Media Sponsor:

YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
Koret Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.

YBCA Exhibitions 13-14 is made possible in part by:
Mike Wilkins and Sheila Duignan, Meridee Moore and Kevin King, the Creative Ventures Council and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Free First Tuesdays
Underwritten by Directors Forum Members