A number of contemporary artists working independently in different regions have produced visions of the future and advanced technologies in disarmingly simple constructions.
Science Fiction is familiar territory. The visions of the future presented by artists, filmmakers and writers, once relegated to quirky little shops, have become a an area for mainstream cultural examination to the point that analysing science fiction – its mechanisms, its concerns and its place in society – has become an industry in itself.

Futuristic visions have proved of interest to visual artists in a contemporary context. But, whilst visions that might be loosely described as “utopian” or “dystopian” have dominated what has been documented and discussed, another, more lateral approach has not been fully reviewed. Exactly this third option is the starting point for ‘The Future Is Stupid!’.

Space ships and earthly beings as models and in comics, even entire outfits sell like hot potatoes, not to mention the countless blockbusters produced by Hollywood and the video gaming industry. So to is Sci-Fi a source of inspiration for visual artists.

A number of contemporary artists working independently in different regions have produced visions of the future and advanced technologies in disarmingly simple constructions. Yet, the complex artistic practice and conceptual processes of this work becomes quickly evident on examination. Presenting neither entirely utopian nor dystopian works – though these ideas themselves may well be one of the concepts within individual works – this alternative approach is often humorous, personal and strongly grounded in contemporary artistic practices.

Frequently made in recycled, found or site-specific materials, the work of these artists appears to be linked through broad generational similarities. In one way, taken collectively, they could be viewed as an archaeological dig that reveals the impact of mass media on the development of science fiction discourses for a post 1960 generation. It is almost developmental: one layer reveals the influence of childrens’ craft activity books and television programmes; a further layer reveals the impact of popular television and film science fiction imagery at a slightly older age; a third layer reveals an adult intellectual awareness, not only of the nature of science fiction, but of artistic practice after the birth of Conceptualism. Layer upon layer unfolds in the work to reveal not only an awareness of conceptual practice – for example the discussion of how visions, no matter how fantastic are inevitably given form by basic material building blocks – but a strong awareness of the meanings of science fiction and technology created through their popular imagery.

This is contemporary art referencing science fiction by a distinctly Gen-X cohort, if not chronologically, then spiritually. No surprise then that these irreverent, confessional and strangely beautiful works about things to come have been gaining increasing recognition within the art world.

Thanks to:
Delta Gallery, Rotterdam
With contributions by:  Richard Priestley (UK), Daniel Jackson (UK), Oliver Michaels (US), Simon Faithfull (UK) Anthony Gross (UK), Richard Squires (UK), Steward Gough (UK), Anthea Bush (NL), Mathijs Vlot – 113 B (NL), Trente Six (FR), EZCT ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN RESEARCH (NL/FR), G-brecht (NL), Rob Voerman (NL), Bettina Carl (DE), Ron van der Ende (NL).
Curated by:  Boris van Berkum

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