Exercises in Futurology

Henrique Loja


Exercises in Futurology is the latest in a series of exhibitions that have been presented at Galeria Quadrum as part of its “Ciclo Budapeste” [“Budapest Cycle”], presenting the direct or indirect results of the work carried out by Portuguese artists selected to participate in the Lisbon–Budapest Exchange Programme.

The project on view at the Galeria Quadrum is based on Henrique Loja’s experience as an artist in residence in Budapest, and on the work that he produced and presented there (Browser, 2015). It examines issues surrounding the erasure of the urban context from political and social history through the replacement of street names that referenced Communism.

In the seven pieces presented as part of this exhibition, Henrique Loja takes an issue of the magazine Science & Vie from 1990, the title of which is La Vie Quotidienne en 2015, as his guiding reference. The magazine issue features an array of articles on technology-related issues and speculation about technological developments and their respective applications in everyday life. As the artist’s lifetime corresponds almost exactly with the time span that forms the focus of the magazine’s exercises in futurology, he has a personal affinity with these conjectures.


There are titles which function as indications, suggestions of ways, so that the body can orient itself in the best sense. Exercises in Futurology tells us absolutely everything. It translates the exhibition into what could be the best critical text about oneself: to title oneself.

And like any translation (of the artwork to text in this case) we are brazenly being lied, but we are not sure yet: we are at that stage

– Perhaps exercises in presentology is a fairer term – huummmmm

– but in this time, in this non-line, you never know:

– the future is also now

(there is someone who talks on deferred)

How to talk with the future? How to think about the future?

(Ours, the world, the world that keeps us)

Henrique turns the question, into an almost-gesture of refusal: let’s not think about the future, let’s think about the Now. To think of it with the conjectures/projections that have been attributed to him, but also with the expectation of what is and what appears, an almost anthropological vision of reporting with gestures that are also apprehended in today’s practices: without mastery but with precise intelligence.

The progression of events along paths, transformations, sequences, repetitions, …, will ensure our continuity in the world: a great body with memory that guards us.

– In the future, we will all be there.

What is remarkable here is acting (exercising) in such a way that the world keeps memory in the present and mastering the ability to think at a real speed, and live, in a pseudo live television effect: the condensation of the here and now – which is future – in the here and now – which is future. With the author in the figure of a trained medium, with the analytical capacity to live in the right time.

(a ghost of an undated conversation)

A funny twist: speculations about the present with material from past futurology about the present. It is an exacerbation, potency, of the very idea of speculation or of the present itself. It makes use of the throwing-expectations-for-the-future, almost Olympic sport (at least in the exhaustion it brings with it) that follows three essential rules: to locate oneself in the present; to direct the expectation towards the future (spatio-temporal direction of expectation); to throw expectations with the whole “expectational” framework. Now, what happens is that there is a lot of emotional damage: a huge bet generates a certain anxiety.

Dominating it, to the anxiety, Henrique practices his free style version – urban variant; he shows us the tricks with a carelessness for the rules: the unprofessional version, which makes use of daily life (making use of it), in a display of skills balanced with the overcoming of his own goals and not hetero-imposed.

Today, with the measures-information-choice of yesterday that launched (and increased its own anxiety for the realization of the failure) to the future in sport version, acts an elliptical launch that in a skilful way unites yesterday-today-tomorrow in a future-today version that annihilates the representation of time that fits with these same releases.

Redemption in the world to an extra world – a kind of attempt (exercise) of anti-representation, not only as a working reference, but also as a transport to a parallel space where events, meetings and intersections can happen: a free-style version of the launch-expectations-for-the-future, for sure.

So, the exhibition that thinks itself within the title and that lies to us at the same time – (it may just be a material-word translation error:) is an inevitable lie – it is a throwing-expectations-for-the-future freestyle show. I conclude synonymously.

– Catarina Real

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With text by
Budapest Cycle – Henrique Loja
José Marmeleira