As the global present becomes increasingly politicized and polemicized it is more important than ever to challenge our ideas of what’s next: to push and probe, tear apart, and re-envision what the future can and should be from the ground up. By showcasing feminist, queer, and de-colonial artists REFRESH will offer visions of the future outside and beyond the dominant discourse, where we can find new possibilities of real change.

Art, science, and technology are key social forces but we have yet to see a major retrospective or exhibition in United States grappling with the politics of this cultural interplay. Taking an explicitly political and socially-engaged focus on this intersection, REFRESH is the first dedicated biennial of its kind.

Inclusion as a Starting Point

“Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum?” The Guerilla 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. 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.

REFRESH breaks down systemic cultural and economic oppression and offers validation, visibility, and new approaches to sustainable artistic practice. The Biennial will exhibit a politically engaged and inclusive vision of what art, science and technology means, bringing special attention to populations that have been historically marginalized including women, people of color, LGBTQ+ and artists with disabilities from around the globe. REFRESH will serve as a platform for community-based and site-specific projects and a host of public programming, bringing together a constellation of venues and organizations in New York City as hosts and sponsors.

Who We Are

Salome Asega

Brooklyn-based artist and researcher whose practice celebrates dissensus and multivocality. She is the co-host of speculative talk show Hyperopia: 20/30 Vision on bel-air radio and the Assistant Director of POWRPLNT, a digital art collaboratory. Salome has participated in residencies and fellowships at Eyebeam, New Museum, and the Laundromat Project, and she has given presentations at New Inc, Performa, Eyeo, and the Schomburg Center. Salome currently has work in the 11th Shanghai Biennale. She received her MFA from Parsons at The New School in Design and Technology and her BA from New York University in Social Practice.

Heather Dewey-Hagborg

Heather Dewey-Hagborg is a transdisciplinary artist and educator who is interested in art as research and critical practice. Heather has shown work internationally at events and venues including the World Economic Forum, Shenzhen Urbanism and Architecture Biennale, the New Museum, the Centre Pompidou and PS1 MOMA. Her work has been widely discussed in the media, from the New York Times and the BBC to TED and Wired. Heather has a PhD in Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is an affiliate of Data & Society.

Kathy High

Interdisciplinary artist working in the areas of technology, science, speculative fiction and art. She produces videos and installations posing queer and feminist inquiries into areas of medicine/bio-science, and animal/interspecies collaborations. She hosts bio/ecology+art workshops and is creating an urban nature center in North Troy (NATURE Lab) with media organization The Sanctuary for Independent Media. High is Professor of Video and New Media in the Department of Arts, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. She teaches documentary and experimental digital video production, history and theory, as well as biological arts.

Lynn Hershman Leeson

Over the last five decades, artist and filmmaker, she has received international acclaim for her art and films. She is recognized for her innovative work investigating issues that are now recognized as key to the workings of society: the relationship between humans and technology, identity, surveillance, and the use of media as a tool of empowerment against censorship and political repression. Her activist films have been distributed worldwide. !Women Art Revolution! won first prize in the Montreal Festival for Films on Art and Holland Cotter of the New York Times called it “the most comprehensive documentary ever made on the feminist art movement.” The Nation cited her 2009 film Strange Culture – which The Nation called “a brilliant and moving examination of fear and its manipulation”. She won a Golden Nica at Ars Electronica, is in the collections of, amongst other institutions, The Museum of Modern Art , The San Francisco Museum of Art, and The Tate Modern. Her recent retrospective, Civic Radar was organized by the ZKM and a catalogue published by Hatje Cantz . She is Professor Emeritus at the University of California.

Tiare Ribeaux

Hawaiian-American artist and curator. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of B4BEL4B Gallery which is focused on innovation and radical inclusivity, and the showcasing of critically underrepresented groups in technology and media arts spaces. She has a background in fashion design and biotechnology and was involved in the early stages of research converting algae to biodiesel at the Natural Energy Labs of Hawaii Authority. She recently produced the Soundwave ((7)) Biennial in San Francisco in 2016.

Camilla Rostvik

Norwegian PhD researcher who splits her time between CHSTM and the Art History and Visual Culture department at the University of Manchester. Having finished an MA which focused on Rosalind Franklin’s Photo 51, she is now looking into the cultural engagement at CERN past and present. Having presented research at conferences both in the Art History and History of Science worlds, she enjoys working in between the two cultures of art and science. Other interests include feminism, human-animal studies and Caravaggio.

Dorothy R. Santos

Filipina-American writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (2016).

Addie Wagenknecht

Her work can be found in various museums, biennales and collections around the world, most recently her work was aquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. In 2014 under a Warhol Foundation Grant she founded Deep Lab, a feminist hacker collective. She is a member of F.A.T Lab (Free Art & Technology) and is the chair of the annual Open Hardware Summit. She has previously held fellowships at Eyebeam in New York City, Culture Lab UK, Institute HyperWerk for Postindustrial Design Basel (CH), and The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University and holds a Masters from New York University, Tisch School for the Arts.

Learn more:

Read about #KissMyArs, the social media campaign
that preceded REFRESH, on The Guardian