Adrian Hon × Chen Xi, A History of the Future in 100 Objects, Shanghai Himalayas Museum installation view, 2017


The future will be stranger than we can imagine today. With over 7 billion inhabitants, more of whom are connected and educated than ever before, the world has become fertile ground for the birth and transmission of new ideas, cultures, technologies, and art—all at a disconcertingly fast pace. Our ability to predict the future is becoming increasingly limited, as if it is being swallowed up by a blank event horizon.

If you were transported a hundred years into the future you would see scarcely imaginable, incredible objects, technology, and cultural changes: interstellar travel, trickster AIs, mindreading technology, and a world shaped by climate change. And yet, you would also see so much that would be familiar to you, from the clothes people wore to the stories they told.

But there are no time machines in real life. Instead, we experience the passage of time second-by-second, and the shock of the new quickly fades into familiarity and indifference. It’s only by taking a period snapshot and comparing it with the past that we can see how the world has changed. “A History of the Future in 100 Objects” takes a hundred snapshots across a century, each one examining a single item, from a single time, in detail. Who made it? Where did it come from? What does it mean? How can it transform the world?

The exhibit includes a selection of objects from Adrian Hon’s book – from which the collaboration draws its name – paired with Chen Xi’s representations of possible futures, articulating stories of exploration, life and death, love and war, science and faith, despair and hope. With its written stories and multimedia works, it is simultaneously concrete and abstract—like the future itself. The project addresses what it means to be human in a century within which humanity has never mattered more. And like all science fiction, it’s about the hopes and fears we have today.

Chen Xi was born in 1985 in Wuhan, China. He graduated from Jiangnan University in 2008, and later graduated with Master’s Degree from East China Normal University in 2012. He currently works and lives in Beijing. His solo exhibitions include: “∞” (A+ Contemporary, Shanghai, 2016), “Preserved Wilderness” (A307, Beijing, 2015), “Perception of Home” (Home Inn, Beijing, 2014), “New Works by Chen Xi” (Museum of East China Normal University, Shanghai, 2009). He’s selected group exhibitions include “Community of Celibates” (Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai, 2016), “Evolution of Model” (A+ Contemporary, Shanghai, 2015), “Absurd Utopias – Cine City” (Brighton Film Festival, Brighton, United Kingdom, 2015), “Ode to Joy” (Star Gallery, Beijing, 2015), “The 2nd CAFAM Future Exhibition” (CAFAM, Beijing, 2015), “Ministry of Truth II: The Factitious and its Realm” (Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing, 2014), “Design Shanghai” (PSA, Shanghai, 2013), “Nonexistent Reality” (Chambers Fine Art, Beijing, 2013), etc.