Keynotes — Day 1

With a growing number of public calls for new future imaginaries, whether it be for our cities or on other scales, the question presents itself which possible forms of narrative can still mobilize the imagination or vision. Rather than looking at cultural dystopia’s or forthcoming utopias, this two-day summit, set-up by a roster of Rotterdam arts institutions in the framework of the yearlong Futurosity program, explores our relationship with the notion of ’the future’ and asks what kind of contingencies can be part of a new vocabulary, be it artistic, fictional or otherwise, to re-empower the notion of “future” in the 21st century.

On the first evening of the Futurosity Summit on Wednesday 18 May, Willem Schinkel, Douglas Coupland and Shumon Basar will discuss their view of the future at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in a keynote lecture and conversation.


19:00 - 20:00 | Lecture by Willem Schinkel (Professor of Social Theory at Erasmus University Rotterdam)

What will the “future” look like in relation to the way we currently imagine “smartness”? When one tries to imagine the future one quickly finds oneself envisioning a highly technological world, be it utopian or dystopian. But who does this world belong to? In what ways do techno-utopian promises reduce political issues to technocratic problem-solving? To what extent does this open a door for the private sector to shape public space and the public in general?


20:00 - 21:00 | Keynote conversation by Douglas Coupland (writer and artist) and Shumon Basar (writer, thinker and cultural critic)

“How much future can our brains accept before they explode or implode?,” writer and visual artist Douglas Coupland asks in his 2015 essay Futurosity. When does our experience of time switch from past, to present, to future? In an accelerated world, how long is now and when is tomorrow? Coupland and writer and cultural critic Shumon Basar discuss the often haunting notion of the future as we experience it in various facets of our lives.

[figure Futurosity Summit - Keynotes Day 1]

Futurosity Summit

The Summit forms the climax of the Futurosity project – part of Rotterdam celebrates the city! – and offers a two-day program with lectures, workshops, tours and debate by artists, writers and thinkers with a keen eye on the future. Next to a Keynote lecture by Douglas Coupland together with Shumon Basar, there will be contributions by Max Dovey & Manetta Berends, Helen Hester, Charlie Koolhaas, Dennis Muñoz Espadiña, Willem Schinkel, Lukas Simonis, Elfie Tromp, Tommy Ventevogel en Liesbeth van Zoonen.

Click here for the full two day program.

Kunstblock is a collaborative group made up of art institutions in the Witte de With quarter: TENT, CBK Rotterdam, V2_Institute for the Unstable Media, Showroom MAMA, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art and Worm Institute for Avant-garde Recreation.

Futurosity is part of Rotterdam celebrates the city! (for the complete program go to: and is kindly supported by The Art of Impact.


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