Worlds Collide: Space Station Call to Tribal Chief in Papua

Two very differing world views were evident in an intriguing exhibition I came across recently during a mini-break to Prague. The exhibition—Everything Is Different—at DOX Centre for Contemporary Art brings together art, science and folklore, and takes the form of wall drawings, video, photography and sculpture.

dox4For me, the exhibition pivots on a brief conversation between a Papua New Guinea tribal chief and a NASA astronaut on the International Space Station. The conversation, via satellite phone, is presented as a split-screen video (see right).

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Fiona Curran

Art and JG Ballard: Geologic Time and Lucid Dreaming

Writer JG Ballard, the great dystopian visionary, said in an interview back in 1975, ‘I think I always was a frustrated painter.’ He went on to say: ‘They are all paintings, really, my novels and stories… I approach many of these stories of mine, like the Vermilion Sands stories – even the novels like Crash – as a sort of visual experience.’ This comment appears in Extreme Metaphors – Interviews with J.G. Ballard 1967-2008, in which he frequently declares his love affair with visual art.

And, in 2003, in an interview with art critic Hans Ulrich Obrist, Ballard said, ‘I think the surrealist painters had the biggest influence on me – De Chirico, Ernst, Dali and Delvaux. These are all painters of mysterious and disconnected landscapes, through which the few human beings drift in a state of dream-like trance, which had a direct and powerful appeal for me.’

Art’s science fictional turn

Ballard’s enchantment with art has been reciprocated over the decades as artists have taken inspiration from science fiction, and there’s no sign of abatement. Two exhibitions in London this month present solo shows by artists who specifically respond to Ballard. I rushed to both exhibitions clutching my copy of Extreme Metaphors. Read more

Volkov Commanders

Art Encounters of The Margaret Atwood Kind

I posted this last week on The Huffington Post under a different title: Art, Social Collapse and Apocalypse: Spaceship Unbound

Imagine discovering, in a post-apocalyptic world, a trove of ancient newsreels and an old projector. You’re desperate to retrieve memories of your lost civilisation so… you rig up a bicycle-powered generator and start the film rolling. This appears to be the scenario constructed in Manchester’s Castlefield Gallery, currently presenting Spaceship Unbound – a group exhibition that takes Margaret Atwood’s post-apocalyptic novel The Year of the Flood as a starting point. Read more