History, and especially pop culture, has always taken an interesting look at the future. Whether it’s looking forward to a brightly-colored utopia where all of our problems are behind us or a barren, war-torn dystopia where survival is a luxury (and in many works, it’s both, one masquerading as the other), we seem hell-bent on predicting the future, entertainingly at least if not accurately. Connie Samaras’ “After the American Century,” presented at UCR/California Museum of Photography, uses beautiful photography to play on this fascination with what lies ahead for us. Shot in late 2008/early 2009, Samaras’ photos and videos chronicle the construction of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, a city that could just as easily be that of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, a supposed wonder city where a truly devastating dystopia lies under the surface. Dubai might not be run on the blood of its workers, but in “After the American Century,” Samaras strikingly exposes the fact that all that glitters truly is not gold.
Connie Samaras’ “After the American Century” at UCR/California Museum of Photography, 3824 Main St., Riverside; cmp.ucr.edu. Feb. 5–April 2. Opening reception 6PM Feb. 5.