REFRESH is a collaborative and politically engaged platform established in 2016. As a collective, REFRESH begins with inclusion as a starting point for pursuing sustainable artistic and curatorial practices across the fields of art, science, and technology.

REFRESH developed out of a social media campaign started in 2015 by its co-founders Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Addie Wagenknecht, along with others. The campaign, #KissMyArs, exposed the problematic politics of the Golden Nica, the top prize awarded by the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria: for over thirty years, the Golden Nica has almost exclusively been given to men. The #KissMyArs campaign went viral, bringing attention to and instigating a debate about the gender inequality of the award. In 2016, Dewey-Hagborg and Wagenknecht, along with the artist Kathy High and the art historian Camilla Mørk Røstvik, wrote an editorial for The Guardian that called for institutions like Ars Electronica to set a global example of giving marginalized artists a seat at the table by reshaping these competitions to make them more inclusive and relevant.

The article was widely read and shared, but Ars Electronica never responded. This was the autumn of 2016, in the wake of Trump and Brexit. It was no longer enough to problematize the present—we needed bold new visions of the future and ideas from outside the mainstream. After two years of naming the problem, it was time to create new structures to elevate the voices of those working at the intersection of art, science, and technology who were not being heard and who could offer fresh perspectives on this transdisciplinary practice—and REFRESH was born.


Who is Refresh?

REFRESH is a collaborative and politically engaged platform at the intersection of Art, Science, and Technology established in 2016. As a collective we begin with inclusion as a starting point for pursuing sustainable artistic and curatorial practices. Founders include Salome AsegaHeather Dewey-HagborgKathy HighLynn Hershman Leeson , Maandeeq Mohamed, Tiare RibeauxDr Camilla Mørk RostvikDorothy R. Santos and Addie Wagenknecht.

Refiguring the Future is supported by grants from the Open Society Foundations and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as part of the NetGain Partnership. This partnership is a philanthropic collaboration seeking to advance the public interest in the digital age. Additional support for the presentation of Refiguring the Future at the Hunter College Art Galleries is made possible by the David Bershad Family Foundation, the Susan V. Bershad Charitable Fund, Inc., Carol and Arthur Goldberg, Agnes Gund, Joan Lazarus, and the Hunter College Foundation.

Future Now

“Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum?” The Guerrilla Girls asked this question in 1989 but the answer has changed little in the intervening years. A painstaking review of the statistics in 2016 confirmed that more than 90% of winners of a major festival in the arts self-identified as male, and two out of the 100 top selling artists at auction are women. The difference in price between the most expensive female and male artists is also vast; $44.4 million vs. $179 million. Women have been largely excluded from history, criticism, and curation of major art historical movements, even when they participate in great numbers as in the case of Abstract Expressionism.

The field of art, science and technology hybridize art world politics with those of tech and science culture. A comparatively new field, it has inherited and tended to perpetuate the oppressive structures of both domains. Diverse voices are vital to the field but have often been excluded from large artist residencies and projects. Despite this history, we believe art has a tremendous potential in the current cultural climate to open new trajectories and ethical choices by envisioning different possible futures.

The status quo is no longer our status.