Rarely on a college campus are students encouraged to throw their futures away. As part of the Cohen New Works Festival, project leads Jason Buchanan and Qi Jiajing asked visitors to do just that for their installation, “Throw Your Future Away.” Thousands of sheets of paper with the printed words “your future” surrounded a trash can in the B. Iden Payne Lobby last week.
Visitors were encouraged to grab a sheet of paper and throw it at a trash can by a white backdrop however they wished. Some sheets were crumpled, others untouched, and one was carefully folded into a paper airplane. To break the silence, different recordings of business meetings and office ambiance played over large speakers with the occasional instruction to “throw your future away!”
The sheets of paper had the words “Your Future” in various fonts, sizes, and patterns. This artistic choice represented the different possible futures a person has, and was as innumerable as an individual’s hopes, desires, angers, joys, and goals. Visitors were encouraged to choose the sheet that best spoke to them.
It was easy to see how many people participated in the installation – the lobby was littered with letter sized sheets of paper. Although the goal was to throw the sheet of paper at the trash can, the sense of accomplishment that came with landing the wad in the can was celebrated by few. Many futures fell short and decorated the ground, it became difficult to tell how filled the trash can was.
The physical aspects of this installation developed a therapeutic purpose for the students who came to visit this installation. Every day, students work hard to build themselves a life after graduation; “Throw Your Future Away” offered a chance to release pent up aggressions and an opportunity to give up, even if for a little bit.
This innovative new work grew with the community. As more visitors threw papers and visited, the meaning and scope of the piece grew. Overall, this piece successfully captured the anxieties and the attention of its intended college audience.