Mission: to interpret and understand contemporary art6 March 2008 - 18 May 2008
Barbican Art Gallery
Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art
Anthropologists from outer space set out on a mission to understand life on earth. Imagine that they begin their mission by examining the curious phenomenon that human beings call ‘contemporary art’. What does Art tell them about human life and culture?
Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art presents contemporary art works under the fictional guise of a museum collection conceived by and designed for extraterrestrials. Playful and irreverent, the museum’s collection features some 150 works by over 100 artists, from modern masters to bright new stars including Joseph Beuys, Cai Guo-Qiang, Maurizio Cattelan, Jimmie Durham, Thomas Hirschhorn, Erika Verzutti, Mona Hatoum, Susan Hiller, Damien Hirst, Brian Jungen, Dr. Lakra, Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, John McCracken, Bruce Nauman, Mike Nelson, Cornelia Parker, Sigmar Polke, Ugo Rondinone, Daniel Spoerri, Haim Steinbach, Francis Upritchard, Jeffrey Vallance, Andy Warhol and Rebecca Warren.
Believing these objects to have a real or functional use, the Museum’s curators deploy an eccentric classification system. They treat artworks as artifacts. The Martian perspective opens up contemporary art to fresh interpretations as well as humorous misunderstandings. In presuming to understand an unfamiliar culture, the Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art
parodies the way that Western anthropologists historically viewed non-Western cultures through alien eyes.
curated by Francesco Manacorda and Lydia Yee