Heba Y. Amin
When I see the future, I close my eyes: Chapter II


May 1–July 30, 2022
May 5, 2022
Zilberman Berlin
Goethestraße 82
10623 Berlin


Zilberman Berlin is delighted to announce the solo exhibition When I see the future, I close my eyes: Chapter II by Heba Y. Amin and curated by Anthony Downey.

Heba Y. Amin’s research-based practice proposes speculative, often satirical, approaches to examining how ideals of "progress" have been advanced through the various technologies of colonization. Foregrounding interdisciplinary methods and performative investigations, When I see the future, I close my eyes: Chapter II presents a series of works that explore the political determinations of these technologies and how they define contemporary frames of representation.

Starting with the story of the first known photograph taken on the African continent in 1839, the exhibition addresses the history of machinic vision as a means for advancing the political and discursive ambitions of colonial exploitation. Windows on the West (2019), a woven reconstruction of a French orientalist painter’s photograph, portrays the exterior of Muhammad Ali Pasha’s harem palace in Alexandria. Although there was nothing erotic about the image, its contrived sexual implications excited audiences in Paris at the time. The original photograph, upon which this work is based, came to represent France’s domination over a territory through the subjugation of North African women. Restaging this historical context, Windows on the West (2019) examines how the extractive technologies of colonial vision can be reconsidered from within their structural logic.

Alluding to similar elements, including the territorialization of space, The Devil’s Garden (2019 -ongoing) explores how colonial violence is engendered through both the material and immaterial occupation of future realities. Examining narratives relating to the German Afrika Korps and their lingering presence in northern Egypt, this project observes how, during the WWII campaign in al-Alamein, millions of landmines were planted by Erwin Rommel’s army. Through her research and fieldwork in what remains one of the most landmine-infested regions in the world, Amin came across a peculiar pyramid built by the Luftwaffe to commemorate a WWII German fighter pilot. By creating a replica of the Nazi-era memorial and bringing it back to Germany, the artist inverts the historical framing of these events and focuses on how European propaganda, perpetuated by mainstream films in particular, continues to disavow responsibility for the techno-fossils that remain in the aftermath of colonial violence.

Amin’s newest work in the exhibition confronts France’s nuclear experiments in Algeria and the far-reaching impact of radioactive fallout. A haunting photograph from 1960 depicts two rows of human-like figures awaiting the detonation of an atomic bomb in the Algerian desert. Through a miniature model and live photo reconstruction of the original image, Atom Elegy (2022) captures the anticipation of nuclear violence pending in real-time. The catastrophic vision of nuclear destruction, a potent symbol of hubristic modernity, is both sublimated and foregrounded as a testimony to the colonial legacies of territorial destruction and, crucially, the neocolonial will to occupy the future.

Initially launched in 2020 by Heba Y. Amin and Anthony Downey at the Mosaic Rooms London, When I see the future, I close my eyes is a collaborative platform that explores art- and exhibition-making as a methodology for new and ongoing research aimed at broadening conversations around the emerging forms of digital authoritarianism and the post-digital future of technologies of warfare. With a commitment to publishing content emerging out of the exhibition’s themes, When I see the future reflects upon the history of technology and its role in shaping Western visuality.