The Progress Trap

The DEAF2014 biennale theme is The Progress Trap. Progress has become a means to an end in itself and has been decoupled from the cultural, ecological and social advances that it was supposed to help achieve. However seductive quick gains from technological solutions are, their temporary victories in the short term may cause much worse and bigger problems in the long run, luring us into The Progress Trap.


For this 10th edition DEAF2014 has an exciting programme lined up that addresses the notion of The Progress Trap in many different ways. Exhibitions, keynotes, seminars, working sessions, evenings of…, films, performances and a satellite programme invite you to come and explore the theme “The Progress Trap”.

DEAF2014’s thematic exhibition in Het Nieuwe Instituut addresses the unsustainable character of our current notion of progress by contrasting the lure of technology with artistic responses to our techno-centric notion of progress and attempts to escape the trap it results in. Dark Matter by Julie Mecoli for instance reminds us of the impermanence of all human endeavors and Lucas Foglia photographed people living off the grid for his Natural Order series, have they found a way out?

DEAF2014 also asked three special guests to give a keynote presentation: Alexa Clay, Adam Greenfield and Ronald Wright, of whom the latter coined the term “progress trap” in his bestselling book A Short History of Progress.

The theme will be addressed in a series of seminars and working sessions programmed by Het Nieuwe Instituut. How can we avoid becoming programmable? How can the cultural sector contribute towards new forms of learning, economy, and the development of future scenarios?


DEAF2014 offers three exhibitions. The main exhibition explores the DEAF2014 theme ‘The Progress Trap’ in more depth.

Students from Willem de Kooning Academy and Piet Zwart Institute present their work at the In Progress exhibition.

The exhibition Blueprints for the Unknown at V2_ investigates the gap between the promises of engineering biology and the complex and conflicted world we live in.

Outdoor we show the work ‘Spawn’ by Jonas Vorwerk.

  • Main exhibition – The Progress Trap
  • Exhibition Blueprints for the Unknown
  • Exhibition In Progress by Willem de Kooning Academy & Piet Zwart Institute
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