Bright Shining Future

Dallas' Aurora 2018 looks ahead with fresh focus and bigger footprint

Dallas' Aurora 2018 looks ahead with fresh focus and bigger footprint

Aurora2015
Search Sense-Coalescense from Aurora 2015. Photo by Scogin Mayo
Herman Kolgen
Unwind by Herman Kolgen from Aurora 2016. Photo courtesy of Aurora 2016
Shane Pennington and Joshua King
Aurora co-founders Shane Pennington and Joshua King. Courtesy photo
Joao Beira
Luxate by Joao Beira form Aurora 2015. Photo courtesy of the artist
Aurora2015
Herman Kolgen
Shane Pennington and Joshua King
Joao Beira

With details having been recently announced for its fifth edition in November 2018, Aurora co-founders Shane Pennington, Joshua King, and Veletta Forsythe Lill are examining an event in a state of evolution. 

Having grown from its original iteration of around 1,400 attendees at Dallas Heritage Village into a 50,000-attendee-strong celebration of light, video, and sound, the biennial arts experience is expanding outside of the Arts District as it evolves with a more focused curatorial direction. 

Leaving the confines of the relatively snug 19 square blocks of the District and establishing a new nucleus at the I.M. Pei-designed Dallas City Hall will allow Aurora organizers to not only activate other areas in the city, but also give the works the opportunity to be shown in the way it was intended. The next Aurora was originally scheduled for 2017, but its massive growth necessitated adding another year to the planning process.

Says director of programming Monica Salazar, “Our future goal is to have a central event with several auxiliary projects happening across the city on the same night. It gives us a lot more space for growth and facilitates access for people living in different parts of the city. With our audience growing to 50,000 in 2015, we want the artwork to remain in the forefront, so visitors can continue to experience the exhibition in engaging and memorable ways.”

If Aurora’s space is expanding, so is its programming. Salazar says that the founders anticipate events ramping up during the week before the big reveal, with talks and screenings being held throughout different locations across the city. 

While specific participants are still being finalized, the three curators who are choosing the works were announced: Da Vinci Creative 2017 art director Dooeun Choi, Dallas Contemporary director of exhibitions and senior curator Justine Ludwig, and Antarctic Biennale co-curator/founder Nadim Samman. 

“Each time we have a new biennial event, we want to have new curators, new blood, and new perspective,” says Salazar of 2018’s more tightly edited curatorial board. “With different curators each time, we’re trying to give exposure to a variety of different artists. By bringing in outsiders, you’re introducing local artists to them as well. It’s a nice platform for exchange.”

Ludwig’s experience with large-scale projects at a museum level, Samman’s history of working on ambitious biennials, and Choi’s experience with digital art in a festival setting made them the ideal triumvirate to bring three unique sensibilities to this year’s theme. 

Entitled Future Worlds, the prescient concept serves as “a forward-looking invitation for artists and visitors alike to imagine a series of possible futures.” The three curators will offer three very different viewpoints of humanity’s destiny. Salazar says their styles are a “nice slice of three different perspectives.” 

"We’re excited to bring together three curators who come in with varying styles and perspectives on our theme," he says. "Whether idealistic, apocalyptic, or something out of science fiction, each curator’s section will present works by local and international artists exploring the concept of future worlds, opening up opportunities for a public dialogue about what’s to come."

One thing is for certain: The future of Aurora is shining brighter than ever before.