COSMIC BEINGS5 August 2023 — 24 September 2023
Tony Oursler, Blue, 2006. Fibreglass form, DVD, projector. Courtesy the artist and Fox Jensen Gallery, Sydney.
Vader and Scorpio: Fighting Their Way to Friendship, 2023
Single channel animation, 5 Minutes
Courtesy of Studio A
© Copyright Mathew Calandra 2023
Production Support by Studio A
Motion Graphics & Post-Production by Christopher Haysom
Music by Palash Sunvaiya
As part of Cosmic Beings, Cement Fondu is delighted to present a new digital commission by Studio A’s Mathew Calandra. Vader & Scorpio: Fighting Their Way to Friendship expands on Calandra’s drawing practice into digital storytelling that envisions his star sign, Scorpio, befriending Star Wars villain, Darth Vader.
“I am a Scorpio. It is my star sign. It makes me strong and it means I can protect people I care about. I like Darth Vader from Star Wars. He is scary but not too scary. Scorpio and Darth Vader meet in the galaxy. Darth Vader enters my galaxy, he enters my star sign. We both become Scorpio.”
Tony Oursler, courtesy of Fox Jensen Gallery, Sydney. Saya Woolfalk, courtesy of Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, NY. Chitra Ganesh, courtesy of Gallery Wendi Norris & Hales, New York & London. Mathew Calandra, courtesy of Studio A, Sydney.
Cosmic Beings presents contemporary perspectives on our place within the cosmos. Featuring new commissions by Hannah Brontë and Kalanjay Dhir and a new digital commission by Studio A’s Mathew Calandra on IG @cementfondu, the exhibition highlights these Australian practitioners alongside notable international artists. Drawing on broad influences, from ancient wisdoms to Afrofuturism, sci-fi comics to quantum physics, the artists look beyond our Earthling limitations to expand the scope and scale of human consciousness.
The exhibition takes its starting point from an archetypal sci-fi storyline that imagines alien invasion as the only hope for unifying the human race. The threat and need to act would force humans to rise above their differences and join together to fight a common enemy. At the outset of the pandemic, it was speculated this might prove true. The initially unidentified and aggressive virus attacked worldwide populations at unparalleled scale, offering a stand-in for extraterrestrials. In the West, rhetoric on terrorism and the invasion of ‘illegal aliens’ temporarily subsided and in its place talk of global collaboration on medical innovations and vaccine-sharing came to the fore. However, as the real impacts of COVID19 took hold, they instead highlighted already entrenched divides along socioeconomic, geopolitical and racial lines and created new personal ones between those vaxxed and unvaxxed.
Against this calamitous backdrop, space tourism took off for the ultra-wealthy, NASA acknowledged the existence of Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UFOs), and the James Webb Space Telescope launched, helping us see further into space and back in time than ever before. Ironically, while life on Earth seemed evermore incomprehensible, we found ourselves on the cusp of profound new levels of cosmic understanding.
The artists in Cosmic Beings help us reflect on these unprecedented and tumultuous times with a critical eye to the past and vision for more peaceful and just futures. Enlisting the social criticism, philosophy and storytelling of science fiction and its otherworldly aesthetics, including puppetry, costume, comic book imagery and scientific illustration, the artists rewrite the story that humanity’s salvation is dependent on planetary invasion and dispel the problematic notion of aliens as threatening ‘Others’. Instead, their works offer alternative and speculative narratives, as well as new ways of being now, anticipating how artificially imposed divisions – between humans, the natural world and other species – might evaporate when viewed from an outer space perspective.
Might we envision unity, empathy and equity on Earth by contemplating ourselves as cosmic beings?
SATURDAY 5 AUGUST
5 AUGUST – 24 SEPTEMBER
THURSDAY – SUNDAY
PROUDLY FUNDED BY THE NSW GOVERNMENT.
THANKS TO OUR PRIMARY PRINTING AND PROJECTION SPONSOR EPSON.