Edited by Gilane Tawadros, John Gill, Jens Hoffmann. Text by David Alan Mellor, Claire Fitzsimmons.
Alien Nation explores the ways the metaphor of the alien (little green man) has been used to process the reality of the alien (illegal or otherwise). If the cinema of the 1950s and 60s sublimated the fear of atomic catastrophe or communist attack into interplanetary drama, the more recent work collected here uses elements of that retro sci-fi world as powerful metaphors for our deep-seated fears of the Other, the foreigner--the increasingly frequently decried "invasion" of immigrants, or just the presence of people of different skin colors and beliefs. Among the 12 international contemporary artists showcased are Laylah Ali, Kori Newkirk and Yinka Shonibare. They and their compatriots explore themes of otherness and difference in film, sculpture, painting, photography and installation. Their interplanetary visitors--which might be built from Christmas ornaments, like Marepe's untitled creature, or sewn from African cloth, like Shonibare's "Dysfunctional Family"--are illustrated alongside film stills and posters from the 1950s and 60s, a glossary of alien names from those films, several thoughtful essays and interviews with the participating artists. A timely, ambitious and thought-provoking exploration of the complex relationship between fiction, race and contemporary art.