A spaceship has landed on the Lower East Side — and no, George Clinton isn’t playing Bowery Ballroom. The New Museum launched “Museum as Hub: Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module,” an exhibition/installation taking over the building’s fifth floor from now until April 6.
If you’re anticipating a George Lucas-meets-Ron Howard structure, lit by Stanley Kubrick’s cinematographer, with Tim Allen narrating your journey to infinity and beyond — you’re probably better off rewatching Gravity. You won’t find HAL 9000 here but you will find over 100 pieces of artwork by 65 Austrian, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian and Slovakian artists.
When the pod bay elevator doors open, you’re already inside the “module,” designed by Czech artist Zbyněk Baladrán and constructed by a crew that worked 14 hour days for the past week. Baladrán has modeled this spacecraft interior after the one in the Czech sci-fi film Ikarie XB-1 (1963), “which melded postwar utopianism with Soviet utilitarianism,” according to New Museum’s website.
There’s no giant vessel parked dead center for visitors to orbit around. Instead you’re in a barren white room with two flat-screens, kind of like the Television Room in Willy Wonka’s factory, minus the fluttering fog of candy bar smithereens. This is AFL, the Archaeology of Futures Lab.
Next, in the MCR, the Main Communications Room, three white Jetsony couches are joined together, facing a wall-width flatscreen and banked by hexagonal-shaped walkways. Here artists, curators and art critics thousands of miles away will beam in via Skype.
Past the two white rooms is a slime green hallway. Sitting on a couch looking through the geometric wall cutouts, I felt like I was in Groupon’s reception area.
The final room is the Multi-Purpose Module, with all sorts of drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, diagrams and videos inspired by space and sci-fi.
A two-day conference called “Futures of Eastern Europe” will take place in the installation space this weekend. Saturday afternoon is divided into panel sessions: a critique of Eastern European sci-fi from noon to 2:30 p.m., and a debate about the role of Eastern Bloc art in modern society from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. All of Sunday is devoted to an Eastern European sci-fi movie marathon featuring three films: Aelita by Yakov Protazanov (1924, Soviet Union), 1 April 2000 by Wolfgang Liebeneiner (1952, Austria), and finally, the feature that inspired the surroundings, Ikarie XB-1 by Jindřich Polák.