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'Cosmological Arrows: Journeys Through Inner and Outer Space' opens at Bonniers Konsthall
Anna Hoetjes, Eyes in the Sky, 2018. Still from video installation. Source material ESTEC, European Space Agency.

STOCKHOLM.- 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? The exhibition Cosmological Arrows gathers a group of 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 astronomy, the environment, colonization, gender, futurism and artificial intelligence.

Science fiction is a sprawling and fascinating genre within which real and fictive conceptions of the world are allowed to congregate. Organizers intend for the exhibition to emphasize how the artists use space and the genre of science fiction as an imaginary laboratory that forms the basis for discussions of today’s ethical, moral and existential dilemmas. Science fiction as a cultural discourse deals with the time we’re living in—and the desires, dreams, and concerns that preoccupy our minds.

This year marks the 201-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. In a world that changes rapidly and that faces several challenges contemporary art filtered through science fiction becomes an important forum for generating visions of im/possible future scenarios and scientific discoveries.

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, Lea Porsager 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 title of the exhibition, 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.

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 Aleksandr Bogdanov, Ted Chiang, Karin Tidbeck and Alice B. Sheldon/James Tiptree Jr. The volume is produced in collaboration with Art & Theory publishing.

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

Curator: Caroline Elgh Klingborg

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