International 2008 Archives
Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art
Barbican Art Gallery, London (UK)
Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art presents contemporary art as if shown in a fictional museum conceived by and designed for extraterrestrials. This ambitious, playful and irreverent exhibition transforms the Barbican Art Gallery into an imaginary museum. It features around 200 works -
This exposition is in part inspired by the first chapter of Kant after Duchamp by Belgian art historian Thierry de Duve, in which an imaginary anthropologist from outer space sets out to inventory 'all that is called art by humans'. Since Martians do not have art as a defined category in their culture, they classify and interpret their chosen objects without the 'knowledge' we know as art history. Instead, they treat works of art as artefacts: objects which serve a function, wether real or symbolic.
The Martian perspective opens up contemporary art to fresh interpretations. It allows for its reassessment from an alien standpoint, thus mimicking the way that Western anthropoligsts historically interpreted non-
Exhibition 6 March -
© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2012. All Rights Reserved
Adopting a pseudo-
While interpretive labels and an audio guide enhance accessibility, and serve further to explicate the Martian's understanding of the role and purpose of contemporary art, they also reveal humorous misunderstandings about the objects on view. The Martian Museum also includes a room devoted to Unclassified Objects. These are recent acquisitions which have not yet been understood, interpreted and categorised.