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Beyond Dystopia Roundtable

General Programming

dateApril 29, 2023 timeSaturday, 10:00am–12:00pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University**Please note: the venue has changed.**
  • Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma
  • The Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought
  • Institute of Latin American Studies
  • Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures
  • Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies
  • Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
  • Columbia Center for the Study of Social Difference
  • Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender
  • Institute for Ideas and Imagination
  • Institute for the Study of Human Rights
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • First come, first seated
B&W old photograph of an airplane

The second piece of a two-part event, the Beyond Dystopia Roundtable follows the Dry Ground Burning film screening on Friday, April 28. (Separate event: more info here).

How does art deal with end-of-the-world narratives? In what ways has art been imagining peoples and their connections among the many crises we have faced – climatic, political, democratic? Is it possible to imagine new worlds and renewed ways of being together within the dystopic present and future?

This event brings together artists and activists who imagine new worlds and connections through their work, amidst and despite the world coming apart. Inequalities, displacements, the militarization of territories, and threats against LGBTQ+ existences are some of the different topics they hope to address. However, rather than focusing on destruction, threat, and ruin, the speakers will discuss how art- in this case, cinema and literature, can imagine new ways of living.

This discussion is presented in conjunction with the screening of Dry Ground Burning on April 28, and Refugee Cities: Urban Dimensions of Forced Displacement, a two-day conference on migration and displacements.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.

Please note: the venue has changed from Jerome Greene Hall (Law School) to the Heyman Center.


Joana Pimenta is a filmmaker from Portugal, living and working in the Unites States and Brazil. Her latest film Dry Ground Burning, co-directed with Adirley Queirós, tells the story of the Gasolineiras de Kebradas, a group of women from Sol Nascente who steal oil and resist Bolsonaro’s presidency. as it echoes through the walls of Colmeia, the women’s prison of Brasilia. Dry Ground Burning premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, screened at the New York Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, among many others, and received more than 30 awards. Joana teaches in the department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies at Harvard University, where she is Director of Graduate Studies for Critical Media Practice and Director of the Film Study Center at Harvard.

João Pina is a documentary photographer born in Portugal in 1980. Over the last 25 years, Pina has worked mostly in Latin America, documenting Human rights violations and its legacies in the contemporary societies. His photographs have been published in media outlets such as The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic Magazine, Stern, GEO, Le Monde, and El Pais. His work has also been exhibited in museums and galleries such as the International Center of Photography (New York), Howard Greenberg Gallery (New York), King Juan Carlos Center – NYU (New York), Museu de Arte Moderna (Rio de Janeiro), Museo de Arte do Rio (Rio de Janeiro), Paço das Artes (São Paulo), Centro de Fotografia (Montevideo), Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Santiago de Chile), Parque de la Memoria (Buenos Aires), Torreão Poente – Museu de Lisboa (Lisbon), the Portuguese Center of Photography (Porto), and Reencontres d’Arles (Arles). He has published three books: Por Teu Livre Pensamento in 2007, Condor in 2014 and 46750 in 2018. He is now working on his fourth book named Tarrafal. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2017/2018 and is a faculty member of the International Center of Photography in New York and currently a visiting professor at the School of the Arts in Columbia University.

Natalia Borges Polesso is a Brazilian writer and translator. She is the author of Amora (2015), Controle (2019), and Corpos Secos (2020), among others. Her books, which often portray LGBTQIA+ characters and issues, have been shortlisted and awarded the main literary prizes in Brazil. Polesso’s most recent novel, A extinção das abelhas (The Extinction of the Bees) (2021), is set in a dystopic future and invites us to imagine human connections in the aftermath of the climate, political and democratic crises. Currently, she is a CNPq/FAPERGS postdoctoral fellow at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, with research on Anthropocene and literature.

Bill Shipsey is a retired Irish Barrister and the founder of Art for Human Rights (formerly Art for Amnesty). He also created and conceived the "Ambassador of Conscience Award" in 2003 which Amnesty International has bestowed on, among others, Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Harry Belafonte, Malala Yousafzai, Mary Robinson, Peter Gabriel and U2. He was Co-Executive Producer of Instant Karma – Amnesty’s multi-star benefit album of John Lennon compositions, which has raised so far over $6 million for Amnesty. Mr. Shipsey is a former Chairperson of the Irish Section of Amnesty International and a former member of Amnesty's International Board. He has appeared for Amnesty International before the Court of Justice of the European Union. He has consulted widely with other human rights organisations around the world seeking to partner with artists in the promotion of human rights campaigns. He is also Chair of the Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran and a Board member of the Vaclav Havel Center. He is a past Chair of the Irish Hospice Foundation and the Free Legal Advice Centres. He lives in Paris.


Natalia Lago is a Brazilian anthropologist and a visiting scholar at the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities (2022-2023) from Columbia University. She is a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Gender Studies “Pagu” from the University of Campinas (Brazil). Her research interests involve gender and difference, prison, human rights, and activism.

Image credit: Photograph by João Pina from the Condor series.