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Infra Culture: here are the exhibitions to watch out for in 2023

At a time of radical change and uncertainty, the world is questioning its future: what solutions for urban spaces, mobility and sustainability? Art and museums interpret these questions, from Tokyo to Copenhagen, from Rome to Helsinki via Qatar

Questioning the future of the human species, at times drawing on the wealth of knowledge from the virtuous experiences of the recent past, is the common trajectory traced by a number of current exhibitions around the world. Exhibitions that, accompanying international visitors for much of 2023, translate into devices for choral enquiries into the fate of the planet, undermined by the climate crisis. And, often, they become an opportunity to approach the visions, sometimes utopian, sometimes enlightening, of artists and designers of our time. 

Technoscape. The Architecture of Engineering

Where&When: MAXXI, Rome - Until 10 April 2023

What is the future of structural engineering? How will the infrastructure of the future be designed and built? Through which technologies, between digital and robotics, will the living, working and sharing spaces of the next generations be defined? These are some of the issues at the heart of Technoscape. The Architecture of Engineering, the review with which MAXXI in Rome analyses 'past glories' and perspectives of a technical discipline essential to the human community. There are two main keys for visitors: in the eight sections of the first chapter, the focus is on more than 40 international masterpieces from the post-war period to the present day; from the Sydney Opera House by Jørn Utzon and Ove Arup to the MASP by Lina Bo Bardi and José Carlos de Figueiredo Ferraz, in São Paulo - the result of the synergic and creative work between structural engineers and architects; in the second area, the gaze turns to the coming decades, with installations by seven European and American university research centres. An example? The 'Reconfigurable Roads' project developed by the Universität für angewandte Kunst in Vienna, which attempts to redefine road design through sustainability and digitally enabled resources.

A Sneak Peek at Qatar Auto Museum

Where&When: National Museum of Qatar (Mawater Gallery), Doha - Until 20 January 2024

Qatar has long been investing on the artistic and architectural front. Recently, through Qatar Museums (QM), the nation's leading institution for art and culture, it announced the forthcoming realisation of the Qatar Auto Museum to be built in the capital Doha and designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). In its 30,000 square metres it will retrace the evolution of the means of transport that revolutionised mobility on the planet. It will illustrate its evolution during the 20th century, focusing on the cultural impact between supercars, vintage models and driving simulators for children. In the meantime, the National Museum of Qatar, itself designed by Atelier Jean Nouvel, hosts the introductory exhibition A Sneak Peek at Qatar Auto Museum Project, which reveals the concept and some of the contents of the ambitious project.

The Future Is Present

Where&When: Designmuseum Danmark, Copenhagen - Until 1 June 2023

Accompanied by a designer installation by the Danish design and architecture studio Spacon & X, the exhibition The Future Is Present places each visitor before a reflection: what kind of future do you imagine for the human species? How do you think it can be realised? Climate change, pandemics, migration, the management of available resources, and the pressure of surveillance on individual freedom require us to think about new, fair, shared and sustainable strategies. Designers, artists, activists and some companies are also contributing to them, as the tour shows. The examples presented in the three sections HumanSocietyPlanet+, and in the complementary area Shaping the Future, based on utopian works from the museum's collection, offer a reconnaissance of the lines of research in progress, between radical visions, concrete positions and more speculative approaches.

What if? Alternative futures

Where&When: Design Museum Helsinki - Until 12 March 2023

Established by geographer Efe Ogbeide and Milla Kallio, the FEMMA agency specialises in participatory urban planning; in other words, it works to advise on the development of democratic and sustainable urban projects. One of the professionals selected for the exhibition What if? Alternative futures, which reasons about alternative practices and ideas to those prevailing in the current scenario. The future dimension, only seemingly distant or abstract, constitutes a 'living matter' and tangible in the minds and projects of the authors involved, who with their interventions open a gateway into six crucial thematic universes: work, home, nature, city, decision-making and metaverse.

Our Ecology

Where&When: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo - 18 October 2023 to 31 March 2024

On the 20th anniversary of its opening to the public, the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo will 'challenge itself'. With Our Ecology, one of the projects promoted for the celebrations planned for 2023, it will take steps to propose an exhibition capable of analysing the ecological perspective in not only thematic terms, but also practical ones. How? These range from minimising transport to reusing exhibition materials. All to answer a question that can no longer be postponed: is a sustainable future for mankind still possible? Will humans be able to establish new ways of connecting with all other creatures? Calling upon voices from the international art scene, the institution located in the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower will bring together historical works and works created for the occasion, offering a broad and heterogeneous interpretation of the word 'ecology'. This analysis will also include an examination of Japanese art between the 1950s and 1970s, a historical phase in which pollution was already beginning to be interpreted as a negative consequence of Japan's rapid economic growth.

Valentina Silvestrini

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