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Beyond the World’s End Exhibition at Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

March 6, 2020  |  Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History


In our current moment, apocalyptic narratives are all around us. They tempt us with their catastrophic fatalism and seemingly inescapable dystopias. Against that danger, it’s crucial to ask how we might imagine a more socially just and ecologically sustainable future?

But is the disaster ahead of us or behind us? Many people around the world–including Indigenous peoples and African-Americans surviving colonialism, genocides, and the transatlantic slave trade—consider themselves to be already living in a post-apocalyptic present.

Addressing this complexity of connecting past, present, and future, this exhibition features art and ideas from the end of the world. It invites us to reflect on the injustices that have brought us to our current moment and asks us to consider options for how to proceed.

From a proposal for a Cross-Border Environmental Commons and time machines to queer indigenous hauntings and Afrofuturist montages, the artworks in this exhibition draw out the intersectional roots of our crisis and seek to think through and visualize, struggle against and overcome the social and environmental injustices we face.

This exhibition and its associated programming addresses competing urgencies and future threats that are a result of past and present injustices. It brings into focus various proposals for imagining emancipatory futures informed by cultivating worlds of justice and equality.

The exhibition is part of Beyond the End of the World which comprises a year-long research and exhibition project and public lecture series, directed by T. J. Demos of UCSC’s Center for Creative Ecologies. The project brings leading international thinkers and cultural practitioners to UC Santa Cruz to discuss what lies beyond dystopian catastrophism, and asks how we can cultivate radical futures of social justice and ecological flourishing. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation John E. Sawyer Seminar on the Comparative Study of Culture and administered by The Humanities Institute. For more information visit BEYOND.UCSC.EDU