When I see the future

Symposium 2021

How does digital imagery affect the construction of our historical consciousness and socio-political imagination?

This symposium puts forth lines of inquiry that have informed Heba Y. Amin’s exhibition When I see the future, I close my eyes and its accompanying nine-month online programme. It serves as a resource for exploring digital methodologies and evidentiary practices, and for examining the production and dissemination of historical knowledge.

Invited participants will reconsider the themes of the exhibition, in light of the increased reliance on digital networks throughout the ongoing global pandemic, and their own research practices.

Witness Statements and Technologies of Memory

13 May, 2pm GMT+1 (London)
Online Panel Discussion

Helene Kazan (Oxford Brookes University)
Naeem Mohaiemen (Lunder Institute of American Art)
Susan Schuppli (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Moderated by Heba Y. Amin & Anthony Downey

Focusing on artistic and scientific modes of inquiry, Witness Statements and Technologies of Memory will examine the impact that digital technologies have on the substance of truth and historical fact in a post-digital age. Speakers from practice- and theory-based backgrounds, including Helene Kazan, Naeem Mohaiemen, and Susan Schuppli, will investigate how their work intersects with evidence gathering, archival knowledge systems, political agency, and legislative discourses.  

Watch livestream here.


Helene Kazan is an artist and writer. As a research-based practitioner, her work investigates ‘risk’ as an integrated limit condition of conflict and capitalism, analysed at the intersection of international law and architecture. Engaging feminist, intersectional, critical legal and creative methods to trace risks violent and disproportionate effects on human and non-human agents. Kazan received her PhD at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University of London and was recipient of the 2018-2020 Vera List Center Fellowship at The New School, NYC.

Naeem Mohaiemen is author of Midnight’s Third Child (Nokta, forthcoming) and Prisoners of Shothik Itihash (Kunsthalle Basel, 2014); editor of Chittagong Hill Tracts in the Blind Spot of Bangladesh Nationalism (Drishtipat, 2010); and co-editor with Eszter Szakacs of Solidarity Must be Defended (Tranzit, forthcoming), with Lorenzo Fusi of System Error: War is a Force that Gives us Meaning (Sylvana, 2007). He was a finalist for the 2018 Turner Prize and is 2021 Research Fellow at Lunder Institute of American Art.

Susan Schuppli is a researcher and artist based in the UK whose work examines non-human witnesses and material evidence from war and conflict to environmental disasters and climate change. She is Reader and Director of the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths where she is also an affiliate artist-researcher and Board Chair of Forensic Architecture. Schuppli has exhibited internationally and published widely within the context of media and politics, including the monograph Material Witness (MIT Press, 2020). 

Heba Y. Amin is a multimedia artist and Professor of Fine Art at Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design.

Anthony Downey is Professor of Visual Culture in the Middle East and North Africa (Birmingham City University). 

Archiving Future Knowledge Systems

27 May, 2pm GMT+1 (London)
Online Panel Discussion

Nishant Shah (ArtEZ University of the Arts)
Donatella Della Ratta (John Cabot University)
Jeff Deutch (Syrian Archive)
Moderated by Heba Y. Amin & Anthony Downey

How does the ongoing, largely opaque, purging of images from online platforms impact our understanding of historical events? Contextualising evidentiary practices, Archiving Future Knowledge Systems will address this predictive (if not reductive) function of the digital archive. Focusing on the degree to which research practices contribute to the development of interdisciplinary methodologies, the panelists will analyze the future of epistemological debates in a post-digital age.

Watch livestream here.


Donatella Della Ratta is a scholar, writer, performer and curator specializing in digital media and networked technologies with a focus on the Arab region. Prior to her position as Associate Professor at John Cabot University, Rome, she has managed the Arabic speaking community for the international organisation Creative Commons for five years (2007-2013). She is the author of Shooting a Revolution: Visual Media and Warfare in Syria (Pluto Press, 2018) and co-editor of The Arab Archive: Mediated Memories and Digital Flows (INC, 2020), and co-founder and board member of the website SyriaUntold.

Jeff Deutch is a researcher with Syrian Archive, where he develops workflows and methodologies for open source investigations. His research interests include issues of data politics, privacy, and digital security as they pertain to marginalisation and social exclusion. Deutch is a fellow at the Centre for Internet and Human Rights and holds a PhD from Humboldt-University in Berlin.

Nishant Shah is the Director Research and Prof. Aesthetics and Cultures of Technology at ArtEZ University of the Arts, The Netherlands. He is a faculty associate at the Berkman-Klein Centre for Internet & Society, Harvard University; a knowledge partner on the global Art-Science Technology Digital Earth Fellowship, and a mentor on the Feminist Internet Research Network. His new book Really Fake is out in May 2021 with University of Minnesota Press, and captures his preoccupations with digital infrastructures, collectives and subjectivities.

Heba Y. Amin is a multimedia artist and Professor of Fine Art at Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design.

Anthony Downey is Professor of Visual Culture in the Middle East and North Africa (Birmingham City University).

Palestine from Above: Surveillance, Cartography, Control 

3 June, 6-7pm GMT+1 (London)
Online Journal Presentation

Roundtable discussion with the Jerusalem Quarterly guest editors Yazid Anani, Salim Tamari and select contributors Ariel Caine, Zeynep Çelik and Michael Talbot from the special double issue dedicated to the topic Palestine from Above: Surveillance Cartography and Control (Spring and Summer, 2020).

Download Jerusalem Quarterly: Part I here. Download Part II here.

Watch livestream here.


Yazid Anani born 1975, Ramallah, is the Director of the Public Programme at the A. M. Qattan Foundation, Ramallah. He curated and co-curated several projects including: Outside the ArchiveSubcontracted nationsZalet LisanThe FacilityWeed Control and the 2nd- 6th editions of Cities Exhibition.

Salim Tamari is IPS senior fellow and the former director of the IPS-affiliated Institute of Jerusalem Studies. He is editor of Jerusalem Quarterly and Hawliyyat al Quds. He is professor of sociology at Birzeit University and an adjunct professor at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.  He has authored several works on urban culture, political sociology, biography and social history, and the social history of the Eastern Mediterranean. Recent publications include: Year of the Locust: Palestine and Syria during WWI (UC Press, 2010) and Ihsan’s War: The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Soldier (IPS, Beirut, 2008).

Zeynep Çelik is distinguished professor emerita at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and adjunct professor of History at Columbia University. Her publications include Urban Forms and Colonial Confrontations (1997), Camera Ottomana (2014, co-editor), and Europe Knows Nothing about the Orient (forthcoming). She co-curated several exhibitions and has been the recipient of prestigious fellowships and awards, including the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2004), American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship (1992, 2004, and 2011), the Sarton Medal from Ghent University (2014), Giorgio Levi Della Vida Award (UCLA, 2019), and Tamayouz Award (2019).

Michael Talbot is Senior Lecturer in the History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Middle East at the University of Greenwich. His research to date has examined Ottoman-British relations (17th-19th centuries), Ottoman maritime law and practice (18th century), and the history of late Ottoman Palestine.  In 2018 he became a BBC and Arts and Humanities Research Council ‘New Generation Thinker’ making shows for BBC Radio 3, and was an on-screen expert and historical consultant for the 2020 hit Netflix docudrama series ‘Rise of Empires: Ottoman’.

Ariel Caine is an artist and researcher currently living in London. He holds a PhD from the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University and is a researcher at Forensic Architecture. Utilising cutting edge computational photographic and photogrammetric processes in combination with analogue archival media, Ariel’s artistic practice and conceptual research explore the co-constitutive relations of the state, religious nationalism and imaging technologies, seeking to both expose and challenge the ways in which the photographic apparatus is embedded in the logic of the construction of physical reality.

—–30 MIN BREAK—–

Closing Event: When I See the Future…

3 June, 7:30-9:00pm GMT+1 (London)
Online Conversation

Exhibition closing conversation: Heba Y. Amin & Anthony Downey with Michael Rakowitz, Larissa Sansour, and guests.

To conclude Heba Y. Amin’s solo exhibition When I see the future, I close my eyes, join curator Anthony Downey and Heba Y. Amin for a roundtable conversation with artists Michael Rakowitz, Larissa Sansour and invited guests from the extended digital programme that accompanied the show. Through Downey’s edited Research/Practice series, launched in 2020, the artists will discuss the impact of unfolding geopolitical events on the future development of their respective projects and question, more broadly, how art research/practice engages with contemporary crises.

We will be joined by speakers from our digital programme which included Daniela Agostinho, Kamal Aljafari, Brunella Antomarini, Nada Bakr, Sabine Bitter, Nanna Bonde Thylstrup, Martina Cavalot, DAAR (Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti), Donatella Della Ratta, Jeff Deutch, Angela Dimitrakaki, Emilio Distretti, Sophie Dyer, Mostafa Elbaroody, Mohamed Elshahed, Kareem Estefan, iLiana Fokianaki, Solveig Gade, Valentin Golev, Baruch Gottlieb, Steph Holl-Trieu, Arthur Holland Michel, Andrew Hoskins, Shona Illingworth, Adel Iskandar, Helene Kazan, Claudette Lauzon, Abdelkarim Mardini, Laura U. Marks, Mariam Mekiwi, William Merrin, Mizna, Naeem Mohaiemen, Reza Negarestani, Ian Alan Paul, Kasra Rahmanian, Patricia Reed, Gillian Russell, Mohammad Salemy, Susan Schuppli, Nishant Shah, Oraib Toukan, and Kristin Veel.

Watch livestream here.


Heba Y. Amin is a multi-media artist and Professor of Art at the Stuttgart State Academy for Art and Design. She is the co-founder of the Black Athena Collective, curator of visual art for the MIZNA journal, and currently sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Digital War. Heba Y. Amin was awarded the 2020 Sussmann Artist Award for artists committed to the ideals of democracy and antifascism, and was selected as a Field of Vision Fellow, NYC (2019). Amin’s work has been shown in numerous exhibitions including Eye Film Museum, Amsterdam (2020), Quai Branly Museum, Paris (2020), MAXXI Museum, Rome (2018), Liverpool Biennial (2021), 10th Berlin Biennale (2018), 15th Istanbul Biennale (2017), and 12th Dak’Art Biennale (2016), to name a few. Her works and interventions have been covered by The New York Times, The Guardian, the Intercept, and BBC among others.

Anthony Downey is Professor of Visual Culture in the Middle East and North Africa (Birmingham City University). He is the Cultural Lead and Co-Investigator on a four-year AHRC funded research project that focuses on cultural practices, education, and digital methodologies in Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan (2020-2024). He sits on the editorial boards of Third Text and the Journal of Digital War, respectively, and is the series editor for Research/Practice (Sternberg Press, 2019–ongoing). He is currently writing up his forthcoming volume Unbearable States: Digital Media and Cultural Activism in a Post-Digital Age (2021).

Michael Rakowitz is an Iraqi-American artist working at the intersection of problem-solving and troublemaking.  In 2018, he was the recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts and the Fourth Plinth commission in London’s Trafalgar Square. In 2020, he was the recipient of the Public Art Dialogue award and the Nasher Prize. Between 2019 and 2020, a survey of Rakowitz’s work traveled from Whitechapel Gallery in London, to Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Torino, to the Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai. Rakowitz lives and works in Chicago, where he is a Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University.

Larissa Sansour was born in East Jerusalem, Palestine, and lives and works in London, UK. She uses science fiction to address social and political issues, particularly concerning memory and inherited trauma, power structures and nation states. Her works in film and multi-media installation explore the dialectics between myth and historical narrative. Sansour is recipient of the 2020 Jarman award and presented her work at film festivals and exhibitions internationally, including Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, Bildmuseet Umeå, and the Danish pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale.