Approximately Infinite Universe
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
June 8 – September 1, 2013
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) will present Approximately Infinite Universe at its La Jolla location from June 8 through September 1, 2013.
Approximately Infinite Universe is an exhibition inspired by science fiction, with its exploration of other possible worlds, its dislocation of spatial and temporal trajectories, and its challenges to distinctions between human and alien, self and other. The works in this exhibition take the form of contemporary artistic thought experiments, exploring ideas surrounding utopia and dystopia, bodily mutations, disorientation and weightlessness, reproductive technologies, cities of the future, Afro-futurism, and meta-histories, among others.
Organized by Associate Curator Jill Dawsey, Ph.D., this innovative survey of work connects a spectrum of seventeen artists and artist collectives from Berlin, Chicago, Copenhagen, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and San Diego. Including
large-scale sculptures, paintings, drawings, photographs, and film and video, the exhibition features works created in the last five years, with a few exceptions included as precedents.
Recently, allusions to space travel and depictions of the cosmos have appeared with increasing frequency in contemporary art, occasioned, perhaps, by the dissolution of the American space program and the privatization of space travel. Rather than simply referencing the motifs and rhetoric of space travel, the artists in Approximately Infinite Universe employ ideas and metaphors associated with experimental science fiction (such as that of writers Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia E. Bulter, and Samuel R. Delany) as well as more popular versions of the genre (Star Trek), to rethink cultural categories, imagine new and different sets of social and sexual relations, and to create alternative realities in which historical and fictional figures interact.
Artists in Approximately Infinite Universe include Edgar Arceneaux, Andrea Bowers, Matthew Buckingham, Luke Butler, Victoria Fu, Chitra Ganesh, Desirée Holman, Emre Hüner, Ann Lislegaard, Simone Leigh, Yoko Ono, the Otolith Group, Jacolby Satterwhite, Amie Siegel, Cauleen Smith, Kara Tanaka, and Saya Woolfalk.
The title of the exhibition originates with a 1973 record album by Yoko Ono, whose video installation Sky TV of 1966 is featured in the exhibition, transmitting views of the sky into the gallery via a live feed camera. This witty evocation of the cosmos–framing the sky on a small screen–sets a tone for the exhibition, which mingles playful and serious treatments of aliens, cities of the future, fictionalized histories, and speculations about space. Ono is also invoked in Andrea Bowers’s Memento of Infinite Space (2002), which incorporates a photorealistic rendering of Ono’s Approximately Infinite Universe album cover. Bowers’s drawing suggests an underlying premise of the exhibition, which understands art as a potential vehicle for time travel. Just as Bowers uses her pencil to revisit past cultural and political moments, other artists in the exhibition employ an array of mediums as means to travel backward and forward through time, re-visioning fraught histories and en-visioning utopian futures, with the effect of gaining insight into the complicated present.