‘Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art’ at the Barbican Art Gallery presented 175 contemporary art works by over 115 artists art works under the fictional guise of a museum collection conceived by and designed for extraterrestrials. The principal idea behind our exhibition design was that the artworks have infiltrated the empty gallery and spread out in a pattern of networks reminiscent of computer boards and scientific diagrams.
We stripped the Barbican galleries back to their basic form and painted all plaster surfaces with a neutral grey. Into this space arrived a ‘motherboard’, a 4 metre-high monolith in bright green acrylic. From this element copper strips emerged onto the floor creating thematic circuits. These physically mapped the curatorial process of the exhibition. It was as if the exhibition has invaded the gallery with its own agenda but could just as easily be retracted in its entirety back into the ‘motherboard’ and removed in an instant.
By using plinths and cabinets reminiscent of a museum environment, the design sought to give form to the curator’s desire to treat the artworks as artefacts and to parody the way that Western anthropologists historically viewed non-Western cultures through alien eyes.