30 aug10 nov 2019

What will be the future of our planet and what responsibility do we take for our actions? What does it actually mean to be human? Cosmological Arrows gathers thirteen contemporary artists who use science fiction and space to pose fundamental questions about humankind’s existence and how we treat the world we live in. The works highlight concepts and visions that freely traverse subjects such as cosmology, the environment, gender, futurism and artificial intelligence.

Science fiction is a sprawling and fascinating cultural genre within which real and fictive conceptions of the world are allowed to congregate. In principle, regardless of medium and content, science fiction always involves the filmmaker or author’s forward-looking vision of an advanced technology that we, in reality, have yet not learned to comprehend fully. In a world that changes rapidly and that faces several challenges (like climate, migration, technology and disinformation) – contemporary art filtered through science fiction becomes an important forum for generating visions of im/possible future scenarios and scientific discoveries.

Anna Hoetjes, Eyes in the Sky, 2018. Still from film.

This year marks the 200-year anniversary of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. The book is often described as the very first science fiction novel, yet despite the time that has passed; this story of Victor Frankenstein and his monster holds several important reflections that are relevant for our time. A time when we hopefully are starting to realize that the infraction of humanity is about to deplete the resources of the earth. What responsibility do we hold for our actions? What is human and non-human?

Author Ursula K. Le Guin, in the foreword to her science fiction novel The Left Hand of Darkness, draws a clear distinction between science and science-fiction. She does not consider herself an author contributing some evidence-based research about how the future will turn out; no divine or visionary prophecies emerge from science fiction. Instead, she utilises the field to describe the time she lived in; as if the literature held up a mirror to ourselves. This reading also applies to the works presented in Cosmological Arrows. Here space and the science fiction genre are used as an imaginary laboratory that allows discussion about our era’s ethical, moral and political dilemmas.

Lee Bul, Civitas Solis II, 2014.

At the heart of the exhibition, Lee Bul’s monumental installation Civitas Solis II spreads itself through the room. Islands of glass fragments on the walls and floor build a kind of entrance to another cosmological world or perhaps a parallel universe. Artists including Brittany Nelson and Jone Kvie present work about telescopes, drones or unmanned space missions. Often space provides the backdrop for projecting not only universal, but personal issues. In the video installation Eyes in the Sky, artist Anna Hoetjes inserts a feminist narrative into space history by imagining a world where women conquered space. In turn, Allora & Calzadilla present an endangered talking parrot, who asks the question, why is humankind so busy trying to find intelligent life in space when it already ignores so many intelligent species on Earth?

The working title, Cosmologic Arrows, is loosely borrowed from the book A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking. When we locate a thought in space, our given concepts of time and room are overturned. This exhibition wishes to be a stepping-stone for artistic ideas and visions that challenge our usual way of viewing the world. Perhaps also suggesting new approaches on how to understand it.

Artists include: Allora & Calzadilla, Agnieszka Brzezanska, Lee Bul, Debora Elgeholm, Johannes Heldén, Anna Hoetjes, Jone Kvie, Lawrence Lek, Caroline Mesquita, Brittany Nelson, Lea Porsager, Larissa Sansour and Arseny Zhilyaev.

Published in conjunction with the exhibition is a volume of new texts by Caroline Elgh Klingborg, Jerry Määttä, Mahan Moalemi and Cecilia Åsberg, as well as short stories by Terry Bisson, Aleksandr Bogdanov, Karin Tidebeck, Alice B. Sheldon/James Tiptree Jr., Johannes Heldén, et al. The volume is produced in collaboration with Art & Theory publishing.

Curator: Caroline Elgh Klingborg

Artists include:

  • Agnieszka Brzezanska
  • Allora & Calzadilla
  • Anna Hoetjes
  • Arseny Zhilyaev
  • Brittany Nelson
  • Caroline Mesquita
  • Debora Elgeholm
  • Johannes Heldén
  • Jone Kvie
  • Larissa Sansour
  • Lawrence Lek
  • Lea Porsager
  • Lee Bul

Thanks to: