These past few months, amid the global pandemic crisis followed by lockdown, the experience of isolation and loss for many people, is ever-present. It has once more highlighted the ongoing crises we face and exposed a world of heightened inequalities and injustice. The fantasy of a technologically accelerated society did not bring empowerment and freedom, but instead, acquired technological systems have reinforced existing racialised and gendered structures, and created new digital bureaucracies, control, discrimination and classification. The selection of works presented here shows that art can have a transformative role for our society, challenging dominant, heteronormative views and dismantling monocultural structures. Dealing with issues of censorship, abuse of power, colonialism and cultural identity, while also opening up dialogue, inviting participation and highlighting voices that are silenced, these works present us with alternative narratives addressing the urgent need for social change. Creative work and research like this can enable us to collectively imagine and dare for better futures. They can potentially help activate systems of reconciliation, healing and repair that could also help build a more open, humane and caring world.
Irini Papadimitriou is a curator and cultural manager, whose practice draws on interdisciplinary and critical discourse to explore the impact of technology in society and culture, and the role of art in helping us engage with contemporary challenges.
Currently Creative Director at FutureEverything, an innovation lab and arts organisation in Manchester, she was previously Digital Programmes Manager at the V&A, where she initiated and curated the annual Digital Design Weekend festival and Digital Futures programmes; and Head of New Media Arts Development at Watermans. Her exhibition, Artificially Intelligent, was on display at the V&A in 2018 exploring our complex relationships with technology, invisible technological infrastructures and boundaries of humanness. Throughout her career, and in particular during her work at the V&A and Watermans, she curated many projects, events and exhibitions working with RCA alumni or in collaboration with RCA
She has been a co-curator for the Arts & Culture experience at Mozilla Festival, with the most recent project ‘Trustworthy AI: Imagining Better Machine Decision Making’ in 2019. She is a co-founder of Maker Assembly, a critical gathering about maker culture, and an Associate at IWM Institute. Irini has been a recipient of curatorial research programmes and grants, and has served as a jury member for Prix Ars Electronica, Lumen Prize, EU STARTS and ACM Siggraph.