Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop: seating proposals for a Grantmaker consists of a suite of sitable art objects in the form of soft cubic furniture or beanbags upon which viewers can relax, remove their shoes, recline and contemplate. Each ‘chair’ archives the content and architecture of the now defunct Future Fund website.
Future Fund was a private sector grant-making agency operating during a seven-month period in 2022. As the flagship charitable arm of FTX, a centralized cryptocurrency exchange, it came under scrutiny last November when the exchange filed for bankruptcy. Today the FTX founder is under house-arrest and the Fund website is accessible only as cachéd archives and an inactive Twitter feed.
While in business the Fund became the posterchild for Effective Altruism; a 21st century social movement with whom the Future Fund team and board members were close associates. Effective Altruists are a global, tight-knit community who earn in order to give and seek the most effective means to do good, via data and reason. Originally devoting their time to global poverty, adherents have more recently pivoted to existential risk and the long-term survival of our species.
Stevenson’s project re-formats the Future Fund website menu, item by item, as physical chairs. This suite of furniture acts as an offline repository for the sites online content and, in the absence of a scrolling function, is navigated by simply flipping over the chair to reveal a new face. The front-end web content appears over each face of each of these soft-faced cubes, arranged on the ground as the menu bar, the chairs occupy the raked floor of the hall where a public audience once sat.
Moving several steps further into 3 East St. is the freestanding display wall. Positioned between stage and auditorium it stands-in for ‘the fourth wall’; the imaginary barrier separating actors and audience. In a further gesture, a suburban entry door has been installed through ‘the fourth wall’ allowing direct communication between the “front-end,” presentation layer of the website and the hidden, data access layer, or “backend.” On stage, behind the door, is the final reveal: The Grantmakers Chair itself.
Stevenson’s exhibition is set in the recent past, beginning at a high-point in late 2021 when crypto peaked and philanthropic foundations such as Future Fund took centre-stage, to the onset of a global economic turndown in mid-2022 and the turn toward winter. From the many advertisements and celebrity endorsements for cryptocurrency seen at US Super Bowl 2022, through to end-of-year with the industry’s image in tatters and investors withdrawing record amounts from centralized exchanges and destabilizing the entire ecosystem.