Martian Museum show at Barbican features real Art21 artists

Bruce Nauman, <i>My Name as Though It Were Written on the Surface of the Moon</i>, 1968. Sonnabend Collection. Photo (c) ARS, NY and DACS, London, 2008.

Examining contemporary art from the perspective of an extraterrestrial, the group show Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art, which opens this week at the Barbican Art Gallery in London, features the work of Art21 artists Bruce Nauman (Season 1), Eleanor Antin (Season 2), Mike Kelley, Cai Guo-Qiang (both Season 3), Jenny Holzer, and Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla (both Season 4). This unusual exhibition’s starting point is the fantasy of an alien anthropologist attempting to understand and explain human culture solely from contemporary art, and it builds from there to offer a quirky look at recent art practices. The curators invent a humorously imprecise classification system designed to raise questions about the practice of anthropology, as well as the role misunderstanding plays in the understanding of contemporary art. Interested patrons will also want to download mp3′s of the the exhibition’s audio guide, narrated by the director of the Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art, the “esteemed” Dr. Klaatu.

The show is open until May 18. Find more information, images, and the audio guide here.


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