February 6, 2010 - Nottingham Contemporary - Star City
February 6, 2010

Star City

Valentina Tereshkova, a scene from Sovety v Kosmose
Photo by RIA Novosti

Star City
The Future under Communism

13 February – 18 April 2010

Weekday Cross
Nottingham 

NG1 2GB

www.nottinghamcontemporary.org/art/star-city

www.nottinghamcontemporary.org/event/futurological-congress

Pawel Althamer, Micol Assael, Stano Filko, Diango Hernandez, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Julius Koller, Robert Kusmirowski, Goshka Macuga, David Maljkovic, Joanna Malinowska & Christian Tomaszewski Aleksandra Mir, Deimantas Narkevicius, Otolith Group, Tobias Putrih, Jane & Louise Wilson.

Star City revisits how the future was experienced and imagined under communism during the Cold War. It focuses on the work of many of the leading artists of the post-Communist generation of European artists. They are joined by key figures from the 1960s and 1970s avant-gardes of that region – Filko, the Kabakovs and Koller – as well as artists from the West who have made work from the geo-historical perspectives of the former ideological adversary. Amongst their films, installations, sculptures, photographs, blueprints and performances are artefacts relating to the Soviet space programme and Communist Central European popular culture, blurring the distinction between historical residue and artistic invention. The exhibition is named after the centre of the Soviet space programme.

Since the lunar landing, the onset of neoliberal globalisation, the shrinking of technology and the crisis of climate change, our will to imagine futures has diminished drastically. The future, such as it was, now often appears abandoned and in ruins, and its new manifestations are rarely heroic, seductive or utopian. This is particularly the case in post-Communist countries, where the future arrived, rhetorically speaking, in the form of a communist utopia that fast became dystopian and disintegrated altogether with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

This exhibition is full of signs of these future-pasts: the rusting hulks of abandoned rockets, visionary and eccentric science fictions, forgotten modernist monuments to the future, obscure cosmological theories where physics and metaphysics appear to unite. In excavating and recasting these almost forgotten futures, the exhibition implicitly asks which of their attributes can be salvaged and redeployed.

Star City’s highlights include Tobias Putrih’s Modernist/Arabesque sculpture-cum-cinema, within which Deimantas Narkevicius’s ‘Revisiting Solaris’ will be screened – based on the final chapter of Stanislaw Lem’s classic sci-fi novel ‘Solaris’ which Tarkovsky omitted in his classic 1972 adaptation. Originated in response to Star City, and produced by Open Art Projects, Pawel Althamer and golden clad neighbours from Bródno in Warsaw went on an extra-terrestrial anthropological expedition to Brasilia, Brazil’s post-War capital city – the most epic manifestation of Modernist urban planning anywhere in the world. Also conceived for Star City and produced by OAP is Tomaszewski and Malinowska’s ‘Mother Earth Sister Moon’ – first shown at Performa 2009 – a homage to Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, based on Niki de Saint Phalle’s ‘She – A Cathedral’ (1966). It will fill our 300 square metre performance space and will house futurist fashion parades and much of Star City’s public programme. Assael, Kusmiroswski and Kabakov will show major installations – the latter, a rare presentation of ‘Two Cabinets’, which takes the form of two Soviet-era doctors’ surgeries (whose corridors are lined with some 70 prints from his ‘The Flying Komarov’ series), within which we hear the patient confess that he has been journeying in outer space in his cupboard. An impressive collection of Soviet propaganda posters of its space programme, a Soviet cosmonaut’s glove and a full size replica of Sputnik1 all also feature in Star City.

David Crowley, Otolith Group, Pawel Althamer, Joanna Mytkowska, Michal Wolinski, Aleksandra Mir, Boris Groys, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Christian Tomaszewski, Francesco Manacorda, Georg Schöllhammer and others are contributing to the conference (The Futurological Congress, Friday, 12 November) and the forthcoming publication.

Star City is curated by Alex Farquharson, Director, Nottingham Contemporary, and Lukasz Ronduda, Curator, Centre for Contemporary Art Warsaw.

The exhibition has been generously supported by Adam Mickiewicz Institute and Polish Cultural Institute as major contribution to POLSKA! YEAR, as well as The Henry Moore Foundation and Open Art Projects.
www.nottinghamcontemporary.org

Nottingham Contemporary

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