Essays

Future Perfect

Mia + Eric

Future Perfect emerged when two interdisciplinary artist teams, Mia + Eric from Calgary, AB, and Action Hero from Bristol, UK, became interested in the intersection of civic bureaucracy and everyday life. They were fascinated by the prohibitive language of city bylaws, and the opportunities that might lie in shifting that language to create new meaning.

The two teams physically cut up and rearranged bylaws from Calgary, Toronto, Gateshead (England) and Paisley (Scotland). Members of the public were invited to witness, and those closely involved with city policy—urban planners, activists, city officials—were asked to participate alongside the artists. Following the workshops, a selection of these new bylaws was featured on billboards in the cities where the project took place. While billboards have historically been used as marketing tools that lure consumers to project themselves into a particular future—one in which they drive a nice car or smell like sandalwood—Mia + Eric and Action Hero wanted to use the billboards to invite citizens not to consume, but to produce a future city; to see how the language of their own city’s policies could be transformed and to imagine a collective future, rather than an individual one.

Described as a “dada-meets-municipal-governance project that recycles the dry and officious language of civic bureaucracy to re-construct, re-engineer and rehearse possible futures,” Future Perfect, according to the artists, is a “hopeful, positive act of reconfiguration.” For a world that seems to be in transition, it offers an opportunity to look at the foundations that have been built and use them to imagine possibilities for where to go next. Find out more or create your own bylaws at futureperfectbyelaws.com.

—Tanvi Bhatia

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