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Between dystopia and hope: an art installation takes you into a world that might be

A Birkirkara centre has been transformed for a Valletta 2018 project

A civic centre in Birkirkara has been transformed into a vision of a coastal city 20 or 30 years in the future as part of an immersive installation by Austrian group Time’s Up under the auspices of Valletta 2018. The piece explores how changing environmental and social conditions may impact our everyday lives. Photos: Matthew Mirabelli

A civic centre in Birkirkara has been transformed into a vision of a coastal city 20 or 30 years in the future as part of an immersive installation by Austrian group Time’s Up under the auspices of Valletta 2018. The piece explores how changing environmental and social conditions may impact our everyday lives. Photos: Matthew Mirabelli

Cross a shaky bridge between the past and the future. Step into a town square in a European coastal city 20 or 30 years in the future. Hear the seagulls and a brass band somewhere in the distance. Peek into an ocean recovery lab where scientists are at work salvaging our seas.

From there, step into a bar and read a newspaper or hear conversations and learn how, in this future, as global water levels rise, migrants are not just the poor: they are the rich whose homes have been lost to the waves.

We wanted to make the future something we could talk about and also experience

For the next few months, St Joseph the Worker Centre, in Birkirkara has been transformed into Cabinet of Futures, an art installation by Austrian group Time’s Up, under the auspices of Valletta 2018, exploring how changes in our world – environmental, social and economic – will impact day-to-day life.

The concept behind the imagining of the future is that “change was our only chance”.The concept behind the imagining of the future is that “change was our only chance”.

“We wanted to make the future something we could talk about and also experience,” Tim Boykett, from Time’s Up, told the Times of Malta.

“On one level, it’s a bit dystopian: you come in and see the rising seas and the water made toxic. But, on another level, it’s hopeful: we also see how society is reorganising.”

According to Mr Boykett, the concept behind the imagining of the future, developed alongside futurists, experts and everyday citizens, is that, seen from the future, “change was our only chance”.

“It is an optimistic view that, looking back from the future, we were able to make those changes,” he said.

“And also the humour about ourselves, about how people may one day wonder what we were thinking. And, most importantly, that no matter what happens, we will still be falling in love and having ambitions and telling stories,” he said.

The St Joseph the Worker Centre, in Birkirkara, has temporarily become a ‘Cabinet of Futures’.The St Joseph the Worker Centre, in Birkirkara, has temporarily become a ‘Cabinet of Futures’.

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