SOUTHFIRST 60 N6th Street  Brooklyn, NY  11211     ph 718 599 4884




Curated by Sean Dack

29 January - 28 February, 2010


Southfirst is proud to present “A Testbed of Futurity,” a group show curated by artist Sean Dack. The exhibition presents work by Julieta Aranda, Ethan Breckenridge, Dick Evans, Gandalf Gavan, Liam Gillick and Corinne Jones, Violet Hopkins, Liz Magic Laser, Chad Scoville, Paul Slocum, Jeremy Shaw, Joshua Taylor, Phillip Vanderhyden, and Nick van Woert  and will be on view from 29 January – 28 February, 2010.


The following text is a story by the show’s curator:


He wakes up in a cloudy haze of last week’s numbers and the after-image of an empty bottle of Patron in collusion with some designer amphetamines. The high-end speed cost what most people make in a week but these pills really were at the forefront of pharmaceutical technology and imported from Russia and it seemed important to be at the vanguard of such things. When he closes his eyes, he sees the numbers falling, getting smaller and smaller, other people’s money, and this makes him glad for the blackout shades in this boutique hotel on the riverfront in a large city. The extremely thick curtains make his situation seem vaguely womb-like, though his end goal is something quite opposite. An illuminated "do not disturb" sign on the wall next to the doorknob allows for relative privacy, though he doesn't really know if he's engaged the switches correctly, they are rather complicated and modishly unlabeled. The mobile phone is turned off and the number disconnected, clients will have very little chance of reaching him at this point.

         He thinks about the most recent acquisition for his whitewashed designer loft newly renovated by Swiss architects, a neon and glass sculpture that required a party for the install and unveiling. He liked to show these new things to friends and clients, it made him feel like he was a part of something: a part of a culture unfolding itself, making sense of the world.

He didn't realize it for the first few hours in the suite and only realized when the boredom and alcohol started settling: the flat screen television was on. It was not only on, it was tuned to the hotel's default menu channel, featuring all the amenities therein with a looping female voice that chimed in every minute or so, "welcome to, etc..." This hotel-specific station also had a looping musak-like audio bed that sounded like some thoroughly emaciated redux of electronic music popular a decade ago. It was at first pleasantly benign but it was increasingly grating on a low level of his consciousness. However, the remote was missing, the television had no visible buttons and one of his pre-set rules was not to call the front desk for any reason.

Nevertheless he considered making a few outbound calls, mainly because he was bored but also because it was a force of habit (maybe one of his periodic love interests was bored, too). Then he realized that when he threw his mobile phone in that dumpster all his phone numbers were gone and he didn’t even know any numbers by memory, not even his mother’s.

Looking into the bedside table drawer for the Russian blister pak and the small bottle of whiskey that he kept there for safekeeping he thought that maybe this looping electro-musak was helping create an environment do to exactly what he wanted to do…. Then the doorbell chimed.


-Sean Dack 01.2010



The fourteen artists participating in "A Testbed of Futurity" -- fifteen if you count the show's curator Sean Dack, whose work does not appear in the exhibition-- appear to be sociologists of the local and minor; their material consists of images stored on a cell phones, a bottle of coca cola and the smell of a discount movie theater, an office plant or a neon sign. But beyond these incidental references the work often takes as its subject a confusion of conventional markers of "past," "present," and "future." The internet and new media landscape is the elephant in the room with the bulk of these artists. So are the notions of a past encapsulated inside a present, a future for which we are nostalgic; here myths about time are wrapped up in objects then imbricated or nested like a set of russian dolls. Writes Dack, "The future snuck up on us and became a more mundane present. A present that we didn't even realize happened to us."


The title of this show comes from the title of a chapter in prophetic Science Fiction writer William Gibson's novel Idoru. In this chapter the protagonist describes seeing a building being rebuilt with nanotechnology after a massive earthquake. It seems that the building quivers and seems to be alive as it strains towards completion. The collection of works in this exhibition are a collection of current views in contemporary art which are haunted with the issue of "contemporariness" while Janus-like looking simultaneously forwards and backwards in their influence.


SOUTHFIRST is located at 60 N6th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn between Wythe and Kent Avenues. Gallery hours are Friday - Sunday from 1-6 PM and by appointment. Subway: L train to Bedford Avenue.  For more information, please contact Florian Altenburg at 718 599 4884 or