(Above) Soviet-era poster commemorating the Space Race. Photo: www.nottinghamcontemporary.org
Exhibition: Star City: The Future Under Communism, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, February 13 – April 18 2010
With horizons sealed off by climate change and economic meltdown, it may be time to look backwards in order to start looking forwards again.
Star City at Nottingham Contemporary presents visions of the future from behind the Iron Curtain. They may be outdated, but some are at least optimistic.
The show takes its name from a secret Cosmonaut training camp oustide Moscow. In the Communist era, space exploration was shorthand for progress.
A few Western artists have filmed at the location. Jane and Louise Wilson offer a rare glimpse of the now ruined centre. The Otolith Group provide footage under weightless conditions.
But the majority of works on display are by artists from the former Eastern Bloc, who either figured as the avant garde of the 60s and 70s or emerged on the international scene in the last decade.
Many will be surprised at the influence of science fiction on people and places with a reputation for grim realism.
Polish artist Pawel Althamer stages an expedition to the alien setting of modernist city Brazilia, while Deimantas Narkevicius has remade the ending of Sci-fi classic Solaris.
There are also space toys from Poland, space posters from the USSR and a life-size replica of a Sputnik. Even realism, it seems, once held some excitement.