The University of the Underground host a series of cultural events titled Agora Club involving board members of the charity to share some of the educative methodologies taught in the basement of the University of the Underground. Agora Club was a series of events hosted by the University of the Underground funded by Creative Netherlands Fund and hosted at De Marktkantine. Agora Club took its participants on a journey exploring problematic futures, from the Anthropocene and grey goo scenarios to a foresight into the future factors of the act of celebration.

The first Agora Club on 27th June 2018, The University of the Underground transformed De Marktkantine nightclub (in Amsterdam) into an arena for performing collective thoughts through music, dance, design, performances, and discussions. Guests inhabited the role of Homo-Faber’s (humans that think) and they navigated cognitive experiences, met trans-species while exploring various neurological landscapes before joining the collective act of party and celebration. 

Titled ‘Agora Club’, it is an experimental performance evening exploring the act of thinking, our brains and their unconscious and the politics of social dreaming. With a secret DJ set from world-renowned performance artist/musician PEACHES who also took part in a panel discussion- Homo Deviant- with Science Fiction author Bruce Sterling, Mirik Milan (Global Night Mayor Advocate), Director of MU and STRP Angelique Spaninks (Board of Directors at the University of the Underground), Magic Magid – The Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Artist Performance Dianthus. In the Homo-Faber Speaks panel we had Cyborg Moon Ribas Moon Ribas, Experimental Architect Prof. Rachel Armstrong, Neurobiologist Alexander Heimel, Magician Janse Heijn and Researcher and Critical Theorist Ramon Amaro (Tutor at the University of the Underground) talk about alternative forms of communication and language.

Throughout the evening, various workshops took place, such as puppet making from the Experimental Architecture Group, Choreography of the mouth by Natalie Fyfe, Blue Gorilla, Hypno-Therapy with Joseph Scorselo and performances from the students of the University of the Underground and Jasmina Tešanović. Then followed by performances Sounds of Sisso ft. Bampa Pana & Makavel and a DJ from Blinky Bill!

In the second edition of Agora Club on the 22nd November 2018 – the party that performs the act of social dreaming – The University of the Underground orchestrated another ludic investigation: this time, exploring collective fears. Agora Club II: Thrill Demeter will brought together dining, discussions, performances, dancers, a fashion parade and DJs to collectively perform and explore the act of transformation in an age reliant on extremities. Agora Club applied design experiences with cultural and philosophical debate to stage collective participatory performance parties like no other. From the survivalist strategies required to endure the Anthropocene to Silicon Valley space trips to Mars, the dreamers of the day and participants will have to negotiate futures fraught with fear and thrill. Some of the questions we explored: Is there a way to untangle the psychology of fear from the production of future imaginaries? Can horror and fear produce counter-narratives to navigate our night terrors and dream up contagious futures to sustain uncertain times?

Panel 1 First Fruits (Homo Faber Eats): An exploration of the Thanksgiving dinner as a ritual and ceremony. Food will be served and shared between artists and guests during a panel discussion hosted by the drag queen Peaches Christ and Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun. We discussed food as a subject and a medium with which to design experiences with and reflect on agriculture, taste and the celebratory feast.

Panellists Included:

  • Regine Debatty- Writer, curator, critic and founder of We Make Money Not Art
  • Lukas Taks- from Eat Art Collective Rotterdam based food collective
  • Marjolein Stappers- Designer and oyster shell archaeologist
  • Debbie Aitatus- from Studio Happy Story Baker and artisan cake extraordinaire
  • Rainari Restaurant- Nomadic Algerian Cuisine

Panel 2, Exit Strategies (Bye Bye Homo-Sapiens): What are our modern day fears and how does the incomprehensible rise to the surface? Cultivating new life forms in other galaxies or building seastead islands to house the population of the near future. How do politicians, architects and government officials plan for extreme conditions and emergency futures? What actions should we take to navigate emergency futures? What do we need to collectively overcome such disaster narratives and transform into a better future?

Panellists include:

  • Arne Hendricks- Bio-artist, designer and ½ creator of Amsterdam’s artist grown fatberg
  • Daniela De Paulis- Artist & Researcher at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)
  • David Wise- Composer for Donkey Kong video games
  • Sjaron Minailo- Experimental Opera Director
  • Otis Mensah- Spoken word rapper and Sheffield’s first appointed Poet Laureate