FUTURA. Future as a Way of Thinking

How can time be represented and measured artistically? And how do we imagine and draft our future? With Bogomir Ecker’s “Dripstone Machine” (1996-2496), an artwork that is conceived to run for 500 years, this exhibition raises questions about temporality, sustainability and visions. An artistically designed platform made of recycled museum inventory will serve as a playing field for an international art exhibition and as a stage for a wide-ranging interdisciplinary program of events entitled FUTURA. Future as a Way of Thinking.

Eröffnung am Donnerstag, den 13. Januar 2022, um 19Uhr / Opening on Thursday, 13 January 2022 at 7pm

Künstler* innen / artists:

Katinka Bock, John Cage, Nina Canell, Gustave Courbet, Attila Csörgő, Hanne Darboven, Edith Dekyndt, Bogomir Ecker, Oswald Egger, Elena Greta Falcini, Ceal Floyer, Caspar David Friedrich, Monika Grzymala, Channa Horwitz, Pierre Huyghe, Daniel Janik, Samson Kambalu, On Kawara, Axel Loytved, Sarah Lucas, Étienne-Jules Marey, Daniel Ott, Johanna Reich, Jens Risch, Philipp Otto Runge, Ani Schulze, Roman Signer, Lucía Simón Medina, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Rayyane Tabet, Robin Watkins

Programm und weitere Informationen / Program and further information:



On 8 June 2021, New York-based writer McKenzie Wark held an online conversation with artist Samson Kambalu on the Situationist International. In this event for Modern Art Oxford, Wark’s response to Samson Kambalu’s exhibition, New Liberia, specifically focuses on Kambalu’s research into ‘détournement’, a practice developed by the intriguing French avant-garde group, the Situationist International.


Malawian born artist Samson Kambalu delivered this year’s IDS Annual Lecture. Samson is a globally renowned artist and intellectual whose Antelope sculpture will feature on London Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth in 2022.

Samson used the lecture to discuss ‘The Antelope and the Problematic of the Gift’ as a dominant cultural form in Africa. Recently selected for the fourth plinth, the Antelope public sculpture features the Malawian Baptist preacher and Pan-Africanist John Chilembwe and speaks to some of the most pressing issues in development – colonial legacies, power imbalances and challenging dominant hierarchies.

He shared his perspective on how African arts and cultures can provide a lens to understand and deconstruct western interpretations of Africa in order to recast development. This included his exploration of the gift economy, Nyau philosophy and the role of art and creativity within it.

Kambalu reflected on how play might be a way for people to reclaim sovereignty in the face of capitalism and neocolonialism.

Samson’s presentation aligns with  IDS’ commitment to interdisciplinarity and  belief that to achieve radical, progressive change we need to bring together diverse knowledges, perspectives and forms of expertise from different countries, sectors, sciences,  arts and humanities. This is also consistent with IDS’ support of the recently-launched  Jena Declaration calling for a new regionally and culturally diverse approach to achieve the SDGs.

Through his talk Samson shared his personal experiences of growing up in Malawi and becoming an international artist and Professor at Oxford University.

The lecture included short films, images and other works that form the core of Samson’s work as a contemporary artist.


Melissa Leach, Director, Institute of Development Studies


Focusing on Phaidon’s new book ‘African Artists: From 1882 to Now’, curator and writer Ekow Eshun, Head of Modern & Contemporary African Art at Sotheby’s Hannah O’Leary, and artists Sokari Douglas Camp, Samson Kambalu, and Ibrahim Mahama take part in an unbarred conversation on the history of modern art on the continent and the rising global interest in a new generation of African artists. 12.10.21


In this lecture Magdalen College Fellow in Fine Art Professor Samson Kambalu lookS at how his approach to art relates to postcolonial cinema and the Nyau mask tradition of Malawi. The lecture includeS screening of his short films and charts the artist’s journey from his upbringing in Malawi to his Fourth Plinth commission, Antelope. The webinar was hosted by Dinah Rose QC, President of Magdalen, and followed with a Q&A.


Colourful and thought-provoking, the Malawi-born artist, academic and author’s remixed flags appear around our site.

Samson Kambalu: Black Jack – Southbank Centre, Until 5 Sep

During lockdown, Samson Kambalu has been creating flags that explore the iconography and visual patterns of flags from around the world.

These artworks play with ideas of national and individual sovereignty and links to emancipatory movements such as Pan-Africanism and Black Lives Matter.

Using mobile technology to create and share on social media, the artist remixes colours and designs of flags, improvising in the same way a DJ or producer remixes music.

This link between music and visual language is underpinned by Kambalu’s background in ethnomusicology: the study of music, and musical instruments, from the perspective of people who make it.

Samson Kambalu trained as a fine artist and ethnomusicologist at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College. He is a Fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford.


Antelope restages a 1914 photograph of Baptist preacher and pan-Africanist John Chilembwe and European missionary John Chorley

Samson Kambalu’s sculpture Antelope, depicts a 1914 photograph of Baptist preacher John Chilembwe and European missionary John Chorley.

It has been chosen alongside Teresa Margolles’s sculpture which features casts of the faces of 850 trans people.

They will go on display in 2022 and 2024 respectively.

Kambalu said the original picture his artwork was based on “looks ordinary” at a first glance.

“But when you research the photograph, you find that actually there’s subversion there, because at that time in 1914 it was forbidden for Africans to wear hats before white people,” he said.

“For me, the Fourth Plinth and my proposals were always going to be a litmus test for how much I belong to British society as an African and as a cosmopolitan, and so this fills me with joy and excitement.”

In his design, Chilembwe is larger than life while Chorley is life-size. The judges said by increasing his scale, the artist elevated Chilembwe and his story, revealing the hidden narratives of underrepresented people in the history of the British Empire in Africa and beyond.

He added: “When I proposed, this was before Black Lives Matter and George Floyd had been taken into the mainstream and I thought I was just going to be like the underdog, because I had made up my mind that I was going to propose something meaningful to me as an African.

“But we have to start putting detail to the black experience, we have to start putting detail to the African experience, to the post-colonial experience.” – BBC