Beyond the World’s End

See how art can help us think creatively about combating climate change and social injustices.

Artboard 1

March 6th, 2020 - May 9th, 2021

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3rd Floor Art Forum Gallery

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What does a future filled with social justice and environmentally friendly practices look like?

Apocalyptic stories are all around us. Climate crises and ongoing acts of social injustice haunt our vision of the future. But is the disaster ahead of us or behind us? For many people around the world, the apocalypse isn’t new. Colonialism, displacement, and genocide have already impacted many communities, forcing them to consider strategies for survival.

Guest curated by T.J Demos, this exhibition features art and ideas from and about the end of the world. These stories reflect the injustices that bring us to our current moment, and ask us to consider options for how to proceed. From queer indigenous hauntings and Afrofuturist montages, to a proposal for a Cross-Border Commons and a people’s archive of sinking and melting. These artworks are an invitation to be present with our past, and offer resources for what’s to come. They ask you to visualize, struggle against and overcome the social and environmental injustices we face. Apocalypse isn’t the end, it’s just the reveal.


The exhibition is part of a year-long research and exhibition project and public lecture series, directed by T. J. Demos of UCSC’s Center for Creative Ecologies. The project brings leading international thinkers and cultural practitioners to UC Santa Cruz to discuss what lies beyond dystopian catastrophism, and asks how we can cultivate radical futures of social justice and ecological flourishing. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation John E. Sawyer Seminar on the Comparative Study of Culture and administered by The Humanities Institute. For more information visit BEYOND.UCSC.EDU.

“Your teachers are all around you. All that you perceive, all that you experience, all that is given to you or taken from you, all that you love or hate, need or fear will teach you - If you will learn.”
– Octavia Butler

Meet the Artists

Rasquache Collective: BordersBordados: A Rasquache Time Machine

The Rasquache Collective believes in making do as a strategy for survival. Drawing on the Chicanx concept of “rasquache,” a term of Mesoamerican origin that means re-usefulness, they’ve created a time machine. Made with recycled materials, Rasquache brings together traditional kite-making and embroidery practices. Adorned with commitments and prayers, these kites offer a means for trans-border communication, also placing present and future in contact. The call and response between the kites and their tails invite you to consider creative means for cultural and community survival and collective thriving.

Learn how to make your own rasquache time-machine here.

BORDERS from federico cuatlacuatl on Vimeo.

“When we create and learn together we are participating in cultural sustainability and resiliency. We are not surviving, we are thriving.”

Rasquache Collective

Teddy Cruz & Fonna Forman: The Cross-Border Environmental Commons

This 7-minute video documents Cruz and Forman’s long term project focusing on the contested area between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico. In addition to being the most trafficked international checkpoint in the world and the primary migration route from Latin America into the United States, this area is also the site of the shared ecosystem of the Tijuana River estuary. Looking at the land between these two cities, separated by an arbitrary geopolitical border, this video looks at an idea for a future borderless area that benefits both cities.

Meet The Artists Sfhq

Super Futures Haunt Qollective (SFHQ)

SFHQ is a queer indigenous feminist performance group. This installation features an audio piece that imagines a conversation between Chief Seattle’s daughter, Kikisoblu (aka Princess Angeline, 1820-1896), Fanny Ball, a Modoc woman and daughter of Captain Jack (Kientpaush, 1837-73) and an ancestor of Lady HOW (one of SFHQ’s avatars, and shorthand for Haunting or Whatever). The conversation takes place in an imaginative realm that SHFQ calls the Specularity. In this realm of the not yet (but may yet be) the three characters meet and exchange gifts.


Amy Balkin: People's Archive of Sinking and Melting

Balkin’s archive is a growing collection of items from places experiencing current and near-future threats of disappearance due to the physical, political, and economic impacts of climate change. (including glacial melting, sea-level rise, coastal erosion, and desertification). Together these objects form a collection of community-gathered evidence, a public record of present or anticipated loss.

Read Amy Balkin's interview in Bomb Magazine.

Ardent Table

Laurie Palmer: Public Sun /Arendt’s Table

How do we relate to one another and to the world around us? Laurie Palmer invites you to explore the architecture and energy systems that connect us. Public Sun/Arendt's Table explores the possibility of a “common world," a concept that German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt, having survived WWII, believed we need to reconstruct. Palmer revisits Arendt’s model of the table as a social space, a space that includes both the environment and more-than-human world. Using a solar pipeline as a centerpiece, the artist sets the table for a public conversation about sustainable futures. Here you can connect around sunlight’s renewable energy and challenge the dangerous practices of fracking and oil drilling that threaten our world (including in California).


Allora & Calzadilla: Land Mark (Foot Prints)

Land Mark (Foot Prints) documents a performance and civil disobedience campaign organized by Allora and Calzadilla from 2001 to 2002. Alongside a group of activists, the artists wore specialized shoes and trespassed onto a United States Navy bombing range on a beach in Vieques, Puerto Rico. The soles of the shoes were embossed with words and images that addressed the activists' thoughts on the former occupation of Vieques by the United States Navy. With the near-future threat of oil drilling off the California coast, the piece offers examples of community activism that have stopped governments and militaries elsewhere.


Krista Franklin: SEED (The Book of Eve) for Octavia E. Butler

Franklin’s work combines poems, popular culture, and the dynamic histories of the African Diaspora. Using collage, installation, poetry, letterpress, and performance she chisels away at the narratives historically inscribed on women and people of color. She forges imaginative spaces for radical possibilities and visions. Her books are inspired by the novels of pioneer sci-fi author Octavia E. Butler.

Har052 Apologia Mediterraneo

Newton Harrison: Apologia Mediterraneo and Bad News Map

How do you visualize a dying sea? Apologia Mediterraneo and Bad News Map chart the industry and pollution of coastal areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Harrison invites you to consider the environmental destruction of modern capitalism and its industrial effects on our ecosystem. By extension, the piece also implies parallels to the Pacific Ocean in the era of climate breakdown, marine industry, and natural resource extraction. Will the sea be another casualty of modernity? If the oceans and humanity survive, what will they look like? How might we move beyond the destructive world of capitalism?


In the News

“The exhibition is an attempt to switch gears and open up new horizons of possibility in the future,” Demos says. “Science fiction or experimental artistic practice offers places for the imagination, for open-skies thinking about the future, about what kind of alternatives we could have that are very different from the present.”

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