Look forwards: Culture to get inspired by in 2020

We are 10 days into the year, and a new decade. How’s it going for you? Are you excited for what’s coming next, or do you just keep drifting back to nostalgic visions of the past, and the way things used to be?

Electronic at The Design Museum, London

We like to think about the past. A lot. And more than ever. And increasingly, we like to share it. Some examples as follows: your top 9 Instagram posts (mildly deflating), your 10 year challenge (surprisingly, you got older)… art and film that continue to focus on remakes and the telling of old stories. Little Women has been adapted for the big screen for the seventh time – because it’s a great, timeless and ever more relevant story, but it’s also still entirely possible to watch the old ones, read the same book and get the same story in multiple ways. It’s not new and it’s not necessary. Imagine if there was a cap on how many times a story can be remade!? (Our creativity would be pressured into coming up with something new.)


We are obsessed with sniffling over what’s been and gone, putting it in a new frame and holding it up for all to marvel at. It’s delightful, because the past is incredibly important to draw upon and learn from. I’m a big history lover, and it’s important for my job to understand how we got to where we are, but it’s also not that helpful to over-weight your focus on history if you want to have a healthy stab at getting on with life and focusing on the future.


It’s not just ourselves and media. There are plenty of brands out there that make their decisions based on what worked last year, or three years ago, rather than what people will need next year. Please don’t let this be you. It’s not going to end well.


If we want our ideas to succeed in the future, we need to firstly understand what we can of how things are changing, and secondly we need to be bold, brave and creative with what we do about it.


So, in that spirit, I have found a selection of forward thinking things that I’m looking forward to exploring and gaining insight from this year. These are on-the-mark topics that will form a part of my research and could inspire you too, so I’m sharing them with you to encourage your future facing spirit. Perhaps that can be one of all of our New Year resolutions: think more future. Join me in Copenhagen on 22nd January if you want to learn how to do that better.


Some things I’ll be enjoying and learning from in 2020:


‘Inside Out’, Barbican, London

The whole year of art and culture programmes under this title explore the relationship between our inner lives and creativity. These are two big areas of research interest for me, so I’m really looking forward to this.


'Throughout 2020, Inside Out will showcase the work of artists who have found pioneering ways to articulate their innermost thoughts, feelings and desires, and how this can help us to better understand ourselves and empathise with each other’s experience of the world.'


Some shows to look out for include:

Autism and Cinema: An Exploration of Neurodiversity April 2020, Barbican, London

I’m especially interested in the connections between autism, neurodiversity and the ability to generate ideas and use your imagination to full effect. (The two are unofficially connected).


‘A film season looking at how neurodiverse people have been portrayed in film, including work by members of the autistic community. The programme considers how cinema can be used to reveal the autistic experience and ways of being on screen.’


Masculinities: Liberation through Photography Feb – May 2020, Barbican, London

This could be amazing, or it could be predictably unremarkable. If it tells new stories and exposes new insights as opposed to the ones you so often hear at such exhibitions, I’ll be happy. I’ll definitely be visiting ;)


‘A major group exhibition that explores the ways in which masculinity is experienced, performed, coded and socially constructed through photography and film from the 1960s to the present day, touching on themes of patriarchy, power, queer identity, race, sexuality, class, female perceptions of men, heteronormative stereotypes, and fatherhood, featuring work by 50 artists including Richard Avedon, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Isaac Julien, Annette Messager and Catherine Opie.’

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography, Barbican, London

Work Hard, Play Hard Feb – May 2020, Barbican, London

Play is a category I work in regularly, and it forms a huge part of creativity, so I’m hoping this will provide fresh inspiration on how we can use play to enhance our creativity.


‘A co commission with Lumen Arts Projects, which explores how our personal relationship with play changes as we grow up.‘


‘Electronic’ April – July 2020, The Design Museum, London

This experience / exhibition about electronic music should be interesting at a time when we are going out less, drinking less, and staying in more.


‘Throw yourself into the hypnotic world of electronic music and discover its global impact from underground movements to the mainstream. Music is only part of the story. Evoking the experience of being in a club, the exhibition will transport you through the people, art, design, technology and photography that have been capturing and shaping the electronic music landscape. Travel to dance floors from Detroit to Chicago, Paris, Berlin and the UK’s thriving scene. Enter a 3-D Kraftwerk experience, lose yourself in mesmerising installations and discover the stories behind the instruments that made it all possible.’


Countryside, The Future February - August 2020, The Guggenheim, New York

This offers original research and a perspective combining art and science, which always helps provide gravitas.


‘Countryside, The Future, is an exhibition addressing urgent environmental, political, and socioeconomic issues through the lens of architect and urbanist Rem Koolhaas. It will explore radical changes in the rural, remote, and wild territories collectively identified here as “countryside,” or the 98% of the earth’s surface not occupied by cities, using original research. The exhibition will examine the modern conception of leisure, large scale planning by political forces, climate change, migration, human- and non-human ecosystems, market driven preservation, artificial and organic coexistence and other forms of radical experimentation that are altering the landscapes across the world.’


Countryside, The Future at The Guggenheim NYC

Colony Sound Oct 2020 – March 2021, Aros, Aarhus, Denmark

I enjoy visiting anything that showcases a future scenario. It invites debate, emotion and curiosity, so I’m hoping to gather reactions from others when I visit, to see how they feel about this suggested future...


'With an all-encompassing architecture and scenography, JonahFreeman and JustinLowe create a parallel world and an underground culture that could hypothetically emerge in San San. They address the stories associated with, for example, the Summer of Love, the US Air Force or Silicon Valley. Their scenes are drawn from rumours of bacterial laboratories and special forms of brainwashing during the Cold War, extravagant private shelters or self-production of fabrics in private kitchens. Like their previous works, COLONY SOUND, 2019-2020 is based on theorist Herman Kahn's theory of San San. The theory highlights that in the future, the cities between San Diego and San Francisco will merge into a large urban complex called San San.'


The Making of Husbands May – September 2020 Baltic, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Gender based art is important but to me, not always interesting. In my opinion it can too often be predictably angry and unilluminating. So, my hope is that this will offer something that encourages positive action taken by combining the viewpoints of artists past and present.


‘The Making of Husbands: Christina Ramberg in Dialogue is a major exhibition that brings together works by Christina Ramberg (1946–1995), her contemporaries and younger artists to explore the urgency with which her work speaks to contemporary debate around gender and identity.’


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