konstnär, pensel och färgburk

Jerry Määttä, Jenny Sunesson, Mehreen Murtaza and Todd Lowery – all four combining art and academia – discuss topics such as how art can contribute to the way we understand and imagine the future.

”All art is quite useless”, wrote Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray, though of course that particular picture was the quite useful vessel for the wickedness, moral decline and the ageing process of its eponymous protagonist. Art indeed can be seen as a vessel containing reflections of the past and present, fear, ugliness, beauty, along with hope for the future or what people fear or hope the future might hold. Beyond this metaphor and given the influence of art in how we speculate about the future(s), we explore some philosophical and artistic trajectories on the contribution of art in imagining futures, especially in relation to catastrophes and dystopias.

This panel will reflect on questions such as:

  • How can art contribute to the way we understand and imagine the future?
  • Do artists hold an ethical responsibility or must art be free from such constraints?


Jerry Määttä is an Associate Professor (docent) at the Department of Literature, Uppsala University. His research interests span from sociology of literature and the modern book market to ecocriticism, science fiction, disaster stories and fanzines/fan cultures. Several of his publications concern cultural representations of the (post-apocalyptic) future, science fiction, and popular literature. A couple of Jerry’s recent articles are ”The Future in Ruins: The Uses of Derelict Buildings and Monuments in Post-Apocalyptic Film and Literature”, in Broken Mirrors: Representations of Apocalypses and Dystopias in Popular Culture, eds. Joe Trotta, Houman Sadri & Zlatan Filipovic (Routledge 2019) and ”The Politics of Post-Apocalypse: Ideologies on Trial in John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids”, in Science Fiction, Ethics and the Human Condition, eds. Christian Baron, Peter Nicolai Halvorsen & Christine Cornea (Springer, 2017).

Jenny Sunesson is an artist, composer and writer, and assistant professor at Stockholm University of the Arts. Her practice ranges from field recording and conceptual sound art to  electroacoustic composition and documentary. She uses real life as a stage for her dark, tragic and sometimes comical work where real and invented characters and derogated stereotypes are forced to collaboration in the alternate story of hierarchies and normative power structure in our society. Jenny started off as a journalist working for newspapers and the public radio, (SR). She later studied at Dramatiska institutet and joined the renowned Electroacoustic music institute of Sweden (EMS). She eventually moved to the UK where she spent a large proportion of her adult life. “In the Lost and Found project”, Jenny writes, “I challenged my own sound making in opposition to a linear, capitalist, narrative tradition, dominated by visual culture. I wanted to explore the possibilities of sound as a counterpart material risking our perception of what sound is and what it can do. By randomly multilayering uncategorised sound scraps the work emerged to “produce itself” and I began to catch glimpses of alternative sound worlds and sites. I called the method fragmenturgy (fragmented dramaturgy) and the alternative realities that were created; fragmedialities (fragmented mediality, fragmented reality).”

Mehreen Murtaza is an inter-inner-in-disciplinary artist whose work explores the necessity of belief and analyses the paradox between transcendental matter and materialized reality. At what point do rational systems of explanation fail to account for an experience? Mehreen has re-imagined, conjured and enacted a transformation of her recent works Score For A Film (2013), a bricolage of fact, fiction, truisms, and historical displacement vis-à-vis the fragmented narrative of the late Dr. Abdus Salam, Mantiq of the Mantis and Prohibited Enlightenment (2019), a series of audio excerpts from a curated collection of books acquired for The Strange Library as an entangled universe that reflect on the esoteric dimension of Islam for the exhibition Forgotten Enlightenment at HALLE 14, Leipzig. These multiverses operate in dream logics, uncertain histories and the creative production of new and perhaps imaginary information, where a conception of the parallel reality is expressed into the realm of an exhibition scenario. Mehreen Murtaza received a post graduate diploma in teaching from Beaconhouse National University. She has been a participant of the Home Workspace program at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. She has been teaching as an assistant professor at The National College of Arts in Lahore, visiting lecturer at Kinnaird College for Women, visiting professor at Institute of Art and Culture, and is teaching as visiting professor at Beaconhouse National University. She is the co-founder and creative director of Mantiq of the Mantis, an alternative creative space for the art and literary community and an experimental publishing house in Lahore.

Todd Lowery is an artist and a professor at Drury University. Since 2015, solo exhibitions of Todd’s work have been held in Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Sweden, and the US. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He has served as Chair of Drury’s Department of Art and Art History and maintains studios in Athens and Springfield (MO) and divides his time between the US, Cyprus, and Greece. His practice ranges from painting and installation-based spatial engagements to photography. Employing Deríve and the notion of Psychogeography, his focus is the exploration of ‘place,’ mainly in locales of the eastern Mediterranean. Elements and qualities of topography, architecture, graffiti and signage, space, and circulation are recalled, social and environmental forces are considered and combined into visuals situated within abstractions that exist somewhere between site plan, cartography, and pictorial landscape. His most recent project Boundaries | Blocks | Borders makes use of approaches found in street art, such as stenciling and spray painting to address conflict, division, and attempts of reconciliation in Beirut, Jerusalem, and Nicosia. It is comprised of a series of paintings investigating the visual relationships of barriers, boundaries, lines, and expressions, and is based on observations and interpretations of spatial-cultural and socio-urban dynamics in the three cities.


Panos Leventis is a professor at the Hammons School of Architecture of Drury University in Springfield. He has been practicing Architecture as a licensed Architect in Cyprus and Greece since the mid-1990s, with numerous built projects and four awarded entries in national and international Architectural and Urban Design competitions. His research and scholarship engage the past, present and future of cities. Departing from his doctoral dissertation in 2004, he authored "Twelve Times in Nicosia. Nicosia, Cyprus, 1192-1570: Architecture, Topography and Urban Experience in a Diversified Capital City". Since 2012, he has also been researching the socio-urban upheavals that sprang forth in the context of the 2008 global “financial crisis”. He has used Athens and Nicosia as his primary case studies for this research, focusing on graffiti, street art and urban resistance movements as understood via the lens of public space and participatory urban processes. He has published and lectured on this work in Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Poland, Sweden and the U.S.