Pyramids of Mars

10.06.00 – 22.07.00

The title Pyramids of Mars was inspired by the first aerial images taken in 1975 of the surface of Mars showing what appeared to be a settlement with mile-high pyramids. These photographs fuelled popular speculation about the possible implications for life on the surface of the red planet, and the existence of Martian society. In the 1990s new images showed that the ‘pyramids’ were in fact the result of an erroneous trick of the light. Nonetheless, the debate on how societies could be shaped continued and influenced the two main approaches presented in this exhibition: art as a model of alternative social, environmental and economic arrangements, and as an intervention in social and economic management.

This exhibition was co-curated with Lars Bang Larsen and the Modern Institute, in partnership with The Fruitmarket Gallery, London’s Barbican and Trapholt Museum, Denmark. It brought together a group of international artists with the aim of challenging social preconceptions and imagining new ways – both fictional and real – in which society could be run. At that moment, many of them were working outside of the confines of what was commonly considered to be ‘art’. For this show, they created situations rather than objects, ‘blurring the lines between artistic production and social and environmental practices’. [Fruitmarket Gallery exhibition guide, 2000]

Superflex presented Superchannel, a studio set up in the gallery which broadcasted live rock and jazz performances, and discussion programmes with a simultaneous online chat where members of the public were invited to get involved. Henrik Håkasson showed the results of a research trip to the Amazon rainforest using his self-designed ‘mobile research unit’ as an attempt to recreate the ‘real’ experience in the rainforest. Jens Haaning’s Discount Supermarket sold goods imported from Europe for cheaper prices than they were normally found in the shops at the time. Dan Peterman displayed his Pollution Certificates that evidenced US links authorizing him to pollute the environment for an agreed amount. Alexandra Mirr presented a series of digital photographs from found images in magazines and newspapers that questioned gender issues and equal rights. Palle Nielsen’s video documentation of his project Model for a Qualitative Society featured his transformation of the entire gallery space of Moderna Museet, Stockholm into a children’s play area. Jeremy Deller exhibited his 80-hour footage video Jerusalem about the banal and extraordinary moments of British life in recent history. And finally, Sture Johanssen presented his psychedelic and political posters as an example of a meeting point between pop culture and counterculture.

Marieta Guzman – Fruitmarket Gallery Archive Intern, Goldsmiths, University of London, 2022


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