Conquest of Space at Galleries UNSW

Conquest of Space, an exhibition locating contemporary Australian art at the forefront of the nexus of science fiction and art, opens at Galleries UNSW this month. 

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John A Douglas, Body Fluid – Ascension (detail), 2012. C-Type photograph on aluminium, 100 × 100cm. Courtesy the artist and Chalk Horse Gallery, Sydney

An exhibition exploring the historical connections between science fiction and contemporary art, opens at Galleries UNSW, College of Fine Arts (COFA) this month, May 22.

Featuring more than 40 Australian artworks, Conquest of Space, builds on three major themes of science fiction and contemporary art: the sublime, the uncanny, and the exploration of time and space.

“Science fiction and contemporary art share more than a heritage – they are profoundly connected, and not just in the way they express related ideas, but in the manner in which they do so,” said exhibition curator and UNSW academic Dr Andrew Frost.

“Artists are drawn to science fiction because it speaks about our time and place in the world in a way no other genre does,” said Dr Frost.

“Science fiction is essentially a fantasy of Western culture – it allows us to explore dramatised versions of the future, nature and exploration and encourages us to question our relationship with the world.”

Australian works by John Glover, Eugene von Guérard, James Gleeson and Jeffery Smart, on loan from the Art Gallery of NSW, complement the exhibition by illustrating the historical roots of contemporary science fiction images throughout the colonialist and modernist periods.

“Most people imagine spaceships, ray guns and robots when they think about science fiction but the genre has a long history that stretches back to the 18th century and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – I wanted to include images from that period in the exhibition,” said Dr Frost.

The Conquest of Space at Galleries UNSW is a part of a wider program incorporating a Science Fiction Symposium at COFA on June 14 and a film program, Conquest of Space Future Screen at the Art Gallery of NSW from May 10 – July 5.

Dr Frost’s documentary The Conquest of Space: Science Fiction and Contemporary Art, profiling many of the artists featured in the exhibition, will be screened later this year on ABC TV.

ARTISTS FEATURED IN THE CONQUEST OF SPACE:  Eugene von Guerard, John Glover, Nicholas Chevalier, Shoufay Derz, Giles Alexander, Megan Jenkinson, John A Douglas, Kate Shaw, Tony Lloyd, Joel Rea, Rick Amor, James Gleeson, Laith McGregor, Shalini Jardin, Madeleine Kelly, Lionel Bawden, Phil James, Sam Leach, Hayden Fowler, Biljana Jancic, Sandra Selig, Michaela Gleave, Robert Klippel, Tristan Jalleh, Sam Smith, nova Milne, Jeffrey Smart, Callum Morton and Adam Norton.

What: The Conquest of Space: Science Fiction and Contemporary Art
When: May 22 – July 5
Where: Galleries UNSW, COFA, Cnr Oxford St & Greens Rd, Paddington
Hours: Tues – Sat, 10am – 5pm

More information: Science Fiction Symposium at COFA and Conquest of Space Future Screen at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Media contact: Fran Strachan, UNSW Media Office, 9385 8732, 0429 416 070