Art and astrology collide at Rubin Museum’s The Future Is Fluid Fete

Vedic astrologer Pallavi Shastri with a guest, at the Rubin Museum. Photo by Filip Wolak.

NEW YORK – More than 250 guests gathered at the Rubin Museum of Art for ‘The Future Is Fluid Fete’, a cocktail benefit to celebrate the opening of the Rubin’s yearlong exploration of the future, on February 22, in New York City.

Guests not only got a preview of the exhibitions on display, but also were able to get a glimpse into their personal future with interactive sessions with future-forecasters, throughout the galleries.

Guests gathered at the Rubin Museum of Art for ‘The Future Is Fluid Fete’. Photo by Filip Wolak.

Guests received readings from Vedic astrologer Pallavi Shastri, learned their most auspicious days according to Tibetan astrology with Dr. Tenzin Dakpa and Dr. Dawa Ridak, consulted the stars with Alex Dimitrov of the Astro Poets, received intuitive oracle readings with Ashley Bruni and The Moon Deck, and discovered the mysteries of I-Ching coin divination with Lingxi Kong.

Guests were asked to bring details of their exact date, time and location of birth, for ‘accurate’ predictions. Expectedly, there were long lines; plenty of mirth and banter as guests awaited their turn. Many, however, had to turn away disappointed as they failed to get in through the limited time slots available with each forecaster.

Artist Shezad Dawood, with one of his works, at the Rubin Museum. Photo by Filip Wolak.

The evening celebrated the opening of the exhibitions ‘The Second Buddha: Master of Time’, ‘A Lost Future’ by Shezad Dawood; two exhibitions by the artist Chitra Ganesh – ‘The Scorpion Gesture’ and ‘Face of the Future’.

Svati Shah, associate professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with artist Chitra Ganesh, at the Rubin Museum. Photo by Michael Seto.

In ‘The Scorpion Gesture’, large-scale animations by Ganesh appear as if by magic as one walks by select artworks. Ganesh has created five animated artistic “interventions” inspired by pieces in Gateway to Himalayan Art and Masterworks, using the figures of Padmasambhava, known as the Second Buddha, and Maitreya, the Future Buddha, as points of departure.

A work by Chitra Ganesh from the exhibition ‘Face of the Future’, at the Rubin Museum.

In ‘Face of the Future,’ Ganesh reimagines how visual languages of science fiction and fantasy take shape and proliferate around the world in print culture, literature, and cinema. In addition to showcasing her own new works on paper and collage-based pieces, Ganesh has invited seven emerging artists—Maia Cruz Palileo, Nontsikelelo Mutiti, Tammy Nguyen, Jagdeep Raina, Sahana Ramakrishnan, Anuj Shrestha, and Tuesday Smillie—to expand and redefine the aesthetics of science fiction by creating posters that refer to a group of important, influential films largely outside the Western canon.

The three-part exhibition ‘A Lost Future’ challenges existing histories and speculative futures across cultures and in Bengal. Apart from Dawood, the exhibition features also the Otolith Group and Matti Braun.

Dawood’s works features an interactive virtual reality experience of the Indian hill station Kalimpong, linking a haunting nostalgic portal to a future alternative reality. Expanding on some of the sites and stories in Dawood’s paintings and sculptures on view, the virtual reality work allows visitors to travel from the mythic Himalayan Hotel into the mountains, an adjacent monastery, and beyond.

Guests also took in the exhibitions ‘A Monument for the Anxious and Hopeful’, as well as ‘Brainwave’, the Rubin’s signature talk series that brings together luminaries in the sciences with experts from unexpected walks of life. Some of the artists and speakers were in attendance, including Ganesh and Dawood.

Deven Parekh, prominent art collector, Democratic Party fundraiser, and Managing Director, Insight Venture Partners (left), with Monika Parekh, and guests, at the Rubin Museum. Photo by Michael Seto.

There were quite a few Indian American sponsors present at the fete, including prominent art collector, Democratic Party fundraiser, and Managing Director, Insight Venture Partners, Deven Parikh, and his wife, Monika Parekh; Girish Reddy, the CEO of Prisma Capital Partners and Co-CEO of Paamco Prisma Holdings, and his wife, Rasika Reddy; ‎and Manoj Singh, Global Managing Partner, Operations, ‎at Deloitte, and his wife Rita Singh.

Eileen Schwab, Candy Chang, Shelley Rubin. Photo by Michael Seto.

Also present were the founders of the museum, Shelley and Donald Rubin, Basha Frost Rubin and Scott Grinsell, Noah P. Dorsky, and William Mayer.

Rasika Reddy, Rubin Museum Director Jorrit Britschgi, Tania Ahuja. Photo by Michael Seto.

Guests in attendance included Deepanjana Danda Klein, the International Head of Department for Contemporary Indian and Southeast Asian Art, at Christie’s, who came along with some of her team members; Anu Duggal, Founder, Female Founders Fund, and a Board member of the Rubin Museum; Svati Shah, associate professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Karenna Gore, Candy Chang and James A. Reeves.

Guests lapped all of the exhibitions on display as they sipped on thematic cocktails “Gimlet Rising,” “Future-Fashioned,” and “Ace of Cups,” featuring spirits by Widow Jane and New York Distilling Company. There was also beer by Brooklyn Brewery; hors d’oeuvres by Starr Events and cupcakes from Baked by Melissa.

A wall with pinned notes on the theme of ‘I’m anxious because’, at the Rubin Museum.

A feature of the exhibition was also a wall exhibiting pinned notes from guests and visitors on two parallel themes: ‘I’m anxious because’ and ‘I’m hopeful because’. Those who veered on the side of anxiety were also, in all likelihood, found in line for a consultation with forecasters.

(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)