Future's Past

The Y2K bug and its implications loom large in 1999, making people warier than ever that the technological advances of today and tomorrow are going to save us. Cynical and fearful of the future, we think the end of the millennium may mean the end of the world.

Almost seems impossible to fathom that the future was once something people looked forward to with anticipation instead of trepidation. The unknown was exciting. It signified hope for a better life through technological progress. The Italian Futurists believed that. They embraced the industrial age, the machine, new materials, creating art that displayed geometric forms and evoked speed, movement, modernity.

Fast-Forward Futurism, the Wolfsonian-FIU's series of lectures, discussions, and celebrations held in conjunction with the exhibition "Depero Futurista Rome-Paris-New York, 1915-1932," just may help revive and perpetuate optimistic notions about the world of tomorrow.

"The Italians have always been recognized for incredible design: fashion, industrial, architecture, furniture," says Wolfsonian-FIU director Cathy Leff, who credits the FFF series to "a community effort."

A host of major names in Italian design -- Alberto Alessi (of tabletop product fame), Alessandro Mendini (designer and spokesman for Studio Alchymia design group), Ennio Capasa (founder of fashion house Costume National), and others -- will travel to Miami from Milan to, as Leff says, "show that what the original Futurists were concerned with is relevant today." (Architect Mario Botta kicked off the series a few weeks ago.) Along with writers and architects, they'll deliver lectures and serve as panelists for discussions about technology, mass production, and the horizons of design in a global market. Design retail store Arango will host a show including recent works by Enzo Mari and Ettore Sottsass (founder of the innovative design group Memphis). The highlight of the series: a Futurist ball held in Big Time Productions's Ice Palace, where local stores Luminaire and Senzatempo will create outrageous installations. An Italian-style community celebration will cap things off at the end of April.

All quite fitting for Miami, a city that seems to have only lately discovered how important the relics of its past are to its eventual well-being. "I think Miami today reflects the spirit of the Futurists," Leff says. "They were very concerned with breaking any ties with the conventional past, and Miami up until recently defined itself in terms of the future. There was little appreciation for things we have of the past. They had been ignored by neglect or by default, not by intent. Now there's more consciousness about our past." And maybe our future, too.

-- Nina Korman

Fast Forward Futurism: Miami-Milan takes place from March 25 through April 25 at various locations. See "Calendar Events," page 41, for more details or call 305-535-2602.

 
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