The Shanghai Himalayas Museum has appointed director Yongwoo Lee and Hans Ulrich Obrist, as the artistic directors of the first edition of the Shanghai Project.
The Shanghai Project is an ideas platform bringing together—from China and abroad—artists, filmmakers, performers, musicians, designers, architects, writers, poets, philosophers, historians, scientists, economists, geographers, sociologists, anthropologists, journalists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, hackers, bloggers, activists . . . and the people of Shanghai. Together, people will think about and act on the sustainability of our futures in the 22nd century.
In 100 years, according to a recent report by Climate Central, if no action is taken to curb emissions and the Earth continues to warm at its present rate, 76% of greater Shanghai’s current population live in areas that will be submerged underwater.(1) Equally startling is the projection that if current policies and heavy migration flows continue over the next 15 years, nearly 70% of China’s population will live in cities.(2) How will human saturation within urban Chinese centers impact not only the environment, but also social and economic systems? As techno-progressive futurists predict and invent new devices to help save us from ourselves and to make human life sustainable, we must wonder if the inevitability of extinction renders such efforts moot. We might ask instead: sustainability for whom?
As if the title of a science fiction novel, 2116 is an arbitrary placeholder, a substitute numeral for a time and place in the fantastically distant future, a vehicle through which we are free to experiment. Yet, the 22nd century is close enough that the future can be measured and predicted, conditioned by what we know and what exists today. The Shanghai Project invites researchers to speculate on this both distant and proximate future and the many valences of sustainability. The provocation to imagine such futures and to think critically about sustainability—beyond an ecological notion—is at once onerous and emancipatory. As such, it will be commanded not just by scientists, futurists, and science fiction novelists, but also by artists, filmmakers, performers, musicians, designers, architects, writers, poets, philosophers, historians, economists, geographers, sociologists, anthropologists, journalists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, hackers, bloggers, activists, and the people of Shanghai.
- Shanghai Himalayas Museum. Photo: courtesy the Shanghai Himalayas Museum.
- Hans Ulrich Obrist