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2020: A Performance Time-Machine

A 10-year project predicting the future of performance art.

Every year, we get together to look into the future until, in 2020, this future will have caught up with us. Every year, we are asking people to share their ideas about the future with us. Every year, we are collecting objects in a time capsule that will not be opened before 2020. Every year, we are developing scenarios for performances to take place in 2020 – some of which will be pre-enacted ahead of their time.

Narratives of the future are everywhere – from science fiction to the scenarios and prognoses of science and politics. Yet never do these narratives consider what role performance art will play in future societies. What kind of work will a performance artist make on board a space ship or in a post-apocalyptic world? What would a performance for the year 2020 look like – as we collectively imagine it?

Political and religious power has often gone hand in hand with claiming a monopoly on interpreting the future. In addressing the future, prognoses and predictions actually aim to control the present. They function as an alibi: whether prognoses are made to justify decisions or whether decisions are made as a result of prognoses – neither opens up a true alternative. Rather than asking how things could and should be, they operate within an existing logic (Western liberal democracy, for instance), which they project into the future and thus take out of negotiation. How can this normativity of the future be challenged? How can we re-imagine the future as undecided and open to radical change? Rather than only reacting to changes that will take place, how can art actually initiate change?

2020: A Performance Time-Machine was launched Chapter’s Experimentica festival in October 2010. In 2011, it took the form of a workshop with the MA Practising Theatre and Performance at Aberystwyth University. In 2012, 2020 will take place in Leeds at PSi #18.

We look forward to sharing the future with you!

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