Antonio R. Montesinos
So Far (Away)
"Imagination to power" (Situationist slogan)
In Futurabilidad (2018), Franco Berardi Bifo highlights the importance of the ability to imagine the future for social transformation and for the development of emerging subjectivities. According to the Italian author, the future is inscribed in the present as a tendencia that we can conjecture. There are countless conflicting future trends inscribed in the "now," and while some will emerge into reality, others will only remain potential. The latter, far from being nullified, will remain as potentialities that perhaps could be realized when circumstances change: hence the importance of imagining futures for change.
In the field of human creativity, this mismatch between the potentialities of present and its materialization takes the form of a heterogenesis or heterogeny of ends, that is, of an asymmetrical relationship between project and realization. In architecture or urbanism, that is, the arts of the inhabited environment, this divergence or disagreement between the imagined futures and their realization gives the models a special status of
work of art, because far from being simply tools of work, they offer a rereading of the landscape where we live, even if they do not come to fruition.
The Inopias series (2008-2020), to which So far (away) belongs, constitutes a set of projects-installations that Antonio R. Montesinos has begun as a result of the real estate bubble and the consequent financial crisis of 2008, proposing a response to the social fracture caused by the crisis of the liberal economic model that occurred in those years. Montesinos works by composing a series of urban landscapes made by chance, representing imaginary cities made with found objects and poor materials. Using the model as an art form, he symbolically takes up the modern utopian models – in which an urban model based on order and reason was applied to impose a specific social context – and reinterprets them from a playful, speculative and material-based practice.
In recent years his interest has shifted towards proposals that imagine alternative futures to capital. As the artist explains, these aim to "work from objects discarded by the capitalist system, reused to build alternatives, found techniques and past urban models, betting on an amateur position that tries to resume a certain "utopian impulse" directed towards the future. It wants to be an "exercise in imagination" that involves the projection of utopias, to express its desire for different urban and social models. This exercise of recycling the material waste of liberal capital is a response to its excesses and consequences on the planet and has the result of the construction of a post-natural scenario that represents a civilization that tries to recover from that disaster and that is dedicated to the treatment of the material that has caused it. The idea is to present the future as a scenario of repair of the damage caused by our current system, in which the line of separation between nature and artificiality has been definitively lost."
This position links his work with the recent theoretical proposal that Donna Haraway has elaborated in response to ecological collapse. The American intellectual proposes to use the fabulation and construction of fantastic stories – in the terms of science fiction or fabulative fiction (SF) – to reflect on the damage caused to the planet during the Ocene Capital and at the same time question the collective agreements assumed as truths that have caused them, opening other views on the future. This is precisely what Antonio R. Montesinos proposes with the Inopias series: to use the process of assembling these fantastic urban landscapes to speculate with different possibilities, to generate – through play, improvisation and a free mix – feasible fictions or potential contingent truths.