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Photo by Christa Holka, design by Sarah Ferrari
2017 – 2020

Time is running out: against the clock, we need to imagine a better future.

A collaborative and immersive experiment for the invention of the future, WE KNOW NOT WHAT WE MAY BE invites you to ‘rehearse’ possible tomorrows. There is widespread recognition that the world cannot continue in the same vein displayed so far this century, but like Shakespeare’s Ophelia, ‘we know not what we may be’. From AI and robotics to responses to climate change, this performance installation takes big ideas and puts people at the heart of the deciding: who could we be in the future?

Admitted in ‘shifts’, audiences initially listen to a 20-minute talk from expert speakers from economics, geography and environmental science. They are then invited to explore what it would be like to live in an alternative economic future, based on a fictional scenario devised from leading experts’ research. These range from economic systems (eg universal basic income, carbon tax), to the future of food and land, to robotics and IA and our relationship to work. Together with artistic collaborators from METIS, led by director Zoë Svendsen, audiences are invited to co-imagine a realistic collective vision of the future.

WE KNOW NOT WHAT WE MAY BE will debut at the Barbican as part of ‘The Art of Change’ Season, which explores how artists can respond, reflect and affect change in the social and political landscape. 

 Commissioned and produced by Artsadmin. Part of Season for Change, a UK-wide programme of cultural responses celebrating the environment and inspiring urgent action on climate change. Also presented as part of Barbican’s 2018 Season, The Art of Change, which explores how artists respond to, reflect and can potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.


WE KNOW NOT WHAT WE MAY BE is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England with additional support from Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Barbican, Cockayne – Grants for the Arts and The London Community Foundation and University of Cambridge. 

WE KNOW NOT WHAT WE MAY BE was developed as part of the Culture & Climate Change: Scenarios Residency Programme. The Scenarios work is led by Dr. Renata Tyszczuk. Culture and Climate Change is supported by The Open University OpenSpace Research Centre, The University of Sheffield School of Architecture, The Ashden Trust, Jerwood Charitable Foundation and the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures.

Date Title Venue City
4 June – 31 December 2020 Love Letters to a Liveable Future Your home Various locations
6–9 September 2018 WE KNOW NOT WHAT WE MAY BE Barbican London
Photo by Christa Holka, design by Sarah Ferrari