Het Nieuwe Instituut - Rotterdam
21 - 24 / 05 / 2014

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?

These are only a few of the many seminars, performances, artists, installations and artworks that DEAF2014 has on offer.


In 2014 it is exactly one hundred years since the First World War broke out. Het Nieuwe Instituut takes this opportunity to investigate the relation between conflict and innovation through a series of projects. The collaboration with DEAF 2014 is part of the second project in this series of four, collectively presented under the title 1914-2014 Conflict and Innovation. The other projects address the themes neutrality, peacekeeping and scarcity in relation to innovation and design practice.

Het Nieuwe Instituut was founded on January 1, 2013, as a result of a merger of the Dutch Architecture Institute, Premsela, Dutch Institute for Design and Fashion and Virtual Platform, knowledge institute for e-culture. In times of radical technological, economical, cultural and social change, Het Nieuwe Instituut aims to chart this rapidly evolving world, while at the same time developing a discourse on topics related to the design field.

Design and innovation form key concepts in all the activities of Het Nieuwe Instituut. These concepts are always viewed in relation to a changing value system. In this context, Het Nieuwe Instituut is pleased to collaborate with V2_ and DEAF in order to address issues on technology and progress within a cultural context. We look forward to welcoming DEAF2014 at Het Nieuwe Instituut!