How will the choices we make now impact our future? That’s the question MOD director Kristin Alford seeks to answer in the gallery’s latest exhibition, Seven Siblings from the Future. Set in the year 2050, the exhibition urges audiences to consider questions of collaboration, identity and place through immersive storytelling.
Adapted from the highly successful Finnish exhibition of the same name, this iteration occurs in a familiar Australian context and grapples with contemporary issues of migration, data privacy and climate change.
“This exhibition is not presenting a comfortable future,” Alford tells Broadsheet. “It asks people to directly interact with important issues to make choices that could directly impact how the future actually occurs.”
Set in the town of Eucalara, at an unspecified location in Southern Australia 31 years in the future, the show simulates an environment devastated by climate change . It’s dry, hot and lacking in vital resources.
“Parts of this exhibition can be confronting,” says Alford. “It shows how indifferent attitudes to climate change can potentially cause mass issues. We introduce invasive species, including giant mosquitos and self-combusting grass, to show just how complicated the future could be if people become complacent.”
Audiences are asked to download an app or use a paper passport as they walk through seven different galleries featuring seven siblings, each designed to represent a distinct value system.
“We’ve aligned their characters to match some of Australia’s current cultural and societal values,” Alford says. “Each sibling represents a migration trend in Australia. They tackle issues like dating, privacy and pleasure. Though the exhibition is set in 2050, we want people to relate to the themes we’re presenting.”
As audiences make their way through the galleries, they meet Ava, an astronaut; Julia, who lives on bushfire-ravaged land; Luca, an entrepreneur; Kai, who seeks to create sustainable transport; Alex, a nurse; Mia, whose job is threatened by the emergence of artificial intelligence; and Rowan, a bio-hacker who creates synthetic food (including the first carbon neutral hamburger).
“The siblings all have different values and opinions,” says Alford. “They argue, just like any family. In each gallery, audiences will to listen to these arguments and record some of their responses through our app and paper passports. We hope these responses will inspire debate and dissuade some of the social tribalism that’s become apparent in present Australia.”
Though the exhibition is full of trepidation about 2050, Alford is optimistic about what people can take away from the space.
“Hopefully we can give people a window into a plausible future and prompt ideas of what they’d like to see change in the world,” she says. “By providing interaction with the seven siblings, we ask people to consider values they haven’t really thought about before. Provoking these questions can allow us to be better prepared for what’s to come.”
Seven Siblings of the Future is open now and will run till the end of May 2020.