Future Justice

An inquiry into the way things are/were/should be

Future Justice is a programme that invites young artists, researchers and educators to help unpack the idea of a future that is based on justice. Out of deep concern for the world, which is marked by a climate crisis as well as a social and political crisis, ArtEZ studium generale commissioned the publication series Future Justice.

It is a series of publications in which students and alumni of ArtEZ present their visions of the future. Future Justice aims at unfolding alternative ideas of justice, which are informed by ideas of collectivity, care, restoration, non-violence and compassion. In doing so, the series takes a kaleidoscopic, hopeful and meaningful look at the future.

Each contribution offers a glimpse into a possible future and every contributor does so from their own perspective and artistic practice. We are bearing witness to the simultaneous unfolding of a climate crisis, a social crisis and a political crisis. All of these crises are in the now, are rooted in our past and signal specific futures.

Future Justice is a programme commissioned by ArtEZ studium generale it is carried out by the Professorship Aesthetics & Cultures of Technology in cooperation with the Honours Programme.


Forecasting Futures: From Crisis to Justice

Editorial by Nishant Shah, professor Aesthetics & Cultures of Technology

The idea of a crisis has been naturalised in our collective imagination of the present and future. Crises, which are supposed to be extraordinary events, have become the de facto framing tools for addressing the state of things. However, this naturalised state of constant crisis engenders very specific kinds of responses: it declares a suspension of normal protections, safeguards and entitlements, which immediately makes the most vulnerable more precarious.

A perpetual crisis signals the emergence of ‘too big to fail’ institutional structures that orient their resources for self-preservation. Despite their etymological commonality, crises preclude and foreclose criticality because conservation and perpetuation become the preferred mode of address. Crises also generate a sense of scarcity, creating anxious, polarised and conflicted narratives, where different voices are often pitched against each other in acrimony and hostility. Perhaps the biggest consequence of naturalising crises is that it recommends retreat, withdrawal and a concentration on the self, thus disallowing collectivity, and often splintering people into oppositional factions precisely when common grounds and action are most needed.

If crisis remains the only mode by which we address our futures, then we are automatically buying into these resource-driven scripts of status quo and preservation as the common sense and pragmatic modes of shaping and engaging with the future. The future—which was always an uncertain space, and hence, the space for both inspiration and creative action—gets reduced to planning documents, managerial processes and transactional practices all in the name of future proofing and future security.

We engage in two dove-tailed narratives when framing the future as in a state of crisis: on the one hand, we think about the future of the current crises, trying to resolve them and find solutions in the future. In doing so, we simplify and streamline our actions and resources at the cost of everything else that does not fit into the crisis narrative. On the other hand, we also think of the future itself as a rare commodity—something that is scarce, and hence not available for equal and equitable stakes. This produces a tacit mode of discrimination, exclusion, and valuation of human life and experiences in hierarchies of resource management and investment. The future in crisis and the future of the crisis both create neo-fascist regimes that do not invite either critical examination or the capacity to identify failures and errors.

Future Justice

Future Justice is a framework that neuters the omnipotence of crisis as the only way of thinking about the future. Even as we recognise the various factors that are generating and informing crises in the making—social, political, climactic—Future Justice is a prompt to think of the future as embedded in different theories, imaginations, practices and processes of justice. While ‘justice’ is a hugely contested category, and not comprehensive or fail-proof in itself, we are not wedded to any one particular idea of justice.

We are not even thinking about attaining, operationalising, or manifesting justice—the conversations around those can easily be constricted to questions of law, governance, management and infrastructure. Instead, we are thinking of justice as an aspirational ideological space; one which recognises the short-comings and failures of the different models of justice and the epistemic violence that comes with them. The aim of the project is not to build a blue-print of justice. Rather, we want to use the ambitions of justice as both the starting point of our conversations about the future, as well as a strong counter-point to the crisis narrative that has been amplified by a neo-liberal nexus of state, military, media and technology.

Future Justice, then, is an attempt to reformulate our relationship with each other and the world that sustains and nourish it. Future Justice is a provocation, a prompt, a question, an invitation to see what new languages, vocabularies and media we will need to invent and reshape in order to create narratives of future. Narratives that are directed at those who are the least served historically and those who are going to be disenfranchised from their fundamental rights to life and liberty in the narrowing scripts of future crises.

Through Future Justice, we seek to subvert the expected, accepted and naturalised scripts of the future as in a state of crisis. And we aim to show how artistic research, interventions and imaginations can help create pathways to a future that is pinned on collective ownership, action and survival. Moving away from the language of war, the rhetoric of scarcity, and the performance of weighing the value of human life and experience, Future Justice offers a space where gentle truths, slow conversations and humane temporalities can still respond with urgency and emergency to the emergent futures that we see in the making. 

In some way, each contribution in this series begins from the recognition of crisis and showing us how the idea of the future changes when it is oriented towards the notion of justice. Drawing from their artistic practice and lived experiences, the young voices featured in this series champion the notions of care, collectivity, restoration, non-violence and compassion that are often missing and the most needed in future forecasting. We have learned a lot from these contributions that show us that futures need not only to be just but also adjustable in order to create justifiable scripts of where we go together. This is a conversation we need to have urgently. With this curated set of entries, I am glad that we are having this conversation right now.


First video essay Future Justice

Ying-Ting Shen: Resilient construction in a changing climate

The first publication is about resilient construction in a changing climate. We see and hear Ying-Ting Shen who followed a Master Interior Architecture in Zwolle.

Second video essay Future Justice

Ai Nakatsuka: shows how music can carry a revolution

In the second video essay for Future Justice, Ai Nakatsuka shows how music can carry the revolution in a country plagued by conflict and poverty. While pursuing her master’s in Music Therapy at ArtEZ, Ai was involved in the Khartoum Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir Project in Sudan. These Sudanese musicians have been fighting for freedom, justice, peace, democracy, and civil rights. Listen to Ai telling their story, and listen to the music of the Khartoum Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir Project. A truly remarkable story about music, hope, and courage, against the backdrop of violence, conflict, and poverty.

Third video essay Future Justice

Anushka Nair: Where is ‘we’

Where is ‘we’? is a reflective and prospective audio-visual essay that critiques the current state of society and offers a lens, through the metaphor of rice, to imagine a future co-vernment ecology built on collectivity, care and agency.

The essay is a combination of text and audio and documentation from my durational performance ‘Naming the Unnamed’ where I along with participants wrote the names of Indian migrant workers on each grain of rice. This work touched on issues of starvation, migration and ignorance by making a public intervention through performance to create spaces of care, intimacy and attention and offer models of future justice.

The link to the registration of the performance Naming the Unnamed is here

Fourth video essay Future Justice

Laila Saber Rodriguez: A Good Tale Begins With A Walk

Laila Saber Rodriguez is an interdisciplinary artist, and her artistic research practice is based on the exploration of movement. In her video, the fourth essay for Future Justice, Laila takes the viewer on a walk in the compound in Cairo where she grew up in. While walking, she is contemplating the concept of justice, and stitching together ideas of time, space, memory, care and touch. Do you walk along?

Fifth video essay Future Justice

Richard L. Kramar: Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

[ ] is the title of the fifth essay in our Future Justice series. Richard L. Kramar invites you to follow him inside. He gently uncovers the contours of a forthcoming body. It is an invitation to seek pleasure. Like a dance. A flirt. A laugh. A fanciful call for light-heartedness against all odds. Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

Richard L. Kramar is an elusive director, dramaturg, poet, and performer constantly attempting to escape the singularity of authorship in the irreverent heart of Mitteleuropa. He has a soft spot for the girls the goths and the gays and struggles endlessly with a sense of naiveté that is both unequivocally present and utterly lost. He is enamoured with language and is freshly in the business of not insisting to be protected from what he wants. His goals in life are being frivolous, promiscuous, and irrelevant with a whole lot of love. Pisces, puppeteer, death enthusiast. Switch, witch, bitch.

Sixth video essay Future Justice

Alkis Barbas: Cultivating Empathy for Future Justice

Alkis Barbas invites you to sit down and take a deep breath… Cultivating Empathy for Future Justice is a meditation, a constructed meeting in a shared space. It’s a reflection about the role of practicing empathic skill in relationships with the self and others. To stress the importance of the embodied experience which always accompanies – or maybe even precedes – cognitive communication. Empathy as a prerequisite for justice.

Alkis is a Greek artist coming from a mixed background of dance and theatre. He has finished a Bachelor program of dance and choreography at the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem and since then is based in the Netherlands. He is inspired by playful narration, perception and representation, and ‘what the body has to say’, themes that he explores within his own work and through collaborations with artists of multiple disciplines. Alkis has performed in choreographies of Caroline Finn, Jerome Meyer and Isabelle Chaffaud, K&A, Noa Shadur and Dario Tortorelli, and has presented two of his own works on stage. Complementary to the academic training, his physical language is influenced by street theatre, urban dance, folk dance (Greek and African), martial arts (capoeira, kung fu).