Alien Nation

Wednesday 24th January 2007

Saturday 17 March 2007 - Monday 7 May 2007. Free admission. Laylah Ali, Hamad Butt, Ellen Gallagher & Edgar Cleijne, David Huffman, Hew Locke, Marepe, Henna Nadeem, Kori Newkirk, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Eric Wesley and Mario Ybarra Jr.

The first project of its kind, Alien Nation is a timely, ambitious and thought-provoking exhibition co-produced by the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and the Institute of International Visual Arts (inIVA) that explores the complex relationship between science fiction, race and contemporary art.

Much has been written about the connection between sci-fi cinema of the 1950s and ‘60s and the Cold War, where fear of invasion, communism and nuclear war was played out in films that projected the anxieties of the present onto the future. In recent years many artists have similarly used science fiction and extra-terrestrial forms as a way of exploring racial difference and as a potent metaphor for the threat of the outsider.

Alien Nation presents the work of twelve contemporary international artists all of whom explore themes of ‘otherness’ and ‘difference’ through the language and iconography of sci-fi. The witty and provocative artworks on display encompass film, sculpture, photography, multi-media installations - even 3-D painting - and expose a disturbing contemporary narrative in which the media perpetuate a terror of ‘invasion’ from immigrants, asylum seekers and other racial, ethnic or cultural ‘others’ and position such ‘outsiders’ as the dominant threat to both family and national stability.

The exhibition includes Laylah Ali’s cartoon-like drawings which show bizarre, part-human/part-alien, creatures living in a unfamiliar world; Hamad Butt’s visceral, disconcerting experience of viral invasion from his video work, The Triffid (part ii of the Transmission installation (1990); Marepe’s galaxy of shiny, brightly-coloured aliens created from Christmas baubles;

Hew Locke’scollage-sculpture which projects fears of a metropolis under attack in classic sci-fi form; Yinka Shonibare’s Dysfunctional Family (1999), a delightfully non-nucleur grouping from a brave new world, and a new piece especially conceived for the exhibition from Eric Wesley.

Mingling fact and fiction, science and art, Alien Nation will also show a collection of original sci-fi film posters from the 1950’s to present day, courtesy of The Reel Poster Gallery, as well as extracts from contemporary and archive science fiction films as part of this unique exhibition that reveals our innermost fears and fantasies about the outsider.