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Queens Chronicle

Art and sci-fi from Latin perspectives

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Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2019 10:30 am

A traveling exhibit at the Queens Museum challenged artists from South and Central America and the Caribbean to offer their alternative takes on the past, present and future, using any device that science fiction has given us to tell their stories.

“Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas” is a traveling exhibit from the University of California, Riverside. It also had an exhibit at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and this past spring has been featured at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria and sites in Manhattan.

The works, in paint, sculpture, photography and even video, are by more than three dozen artists or cooperatives.

Various themes include “Alternate Americas,” which explores how actions by societies in the past could have changed the future;” Time Travel;” “Reimagining the Americas;” “Indigenous Futurisms,“ which explores the knowledge of indigenous people and how it is still relevant today; and others.

The history and effects of colonialism, politics and even the environment all are subject to commentary.

The largest offering, filling much of the main gallery, is “Organic Arches (Time Traveler)” by Chico McMurtrie, said to represent a space and time tunnel. The kinetic sculpture of fabric arches changes shape easily with air pumped into and out of them.

In “Autonomous InterGalactic Space Program,” which was begun in 2009 and is still evolving, by Rigo 23, a Portuguese muralist, asked artists in the Zapatista movement in the region of Chiapas, Mexico to create works imagining a future independent of the Mexican government. It is presented as windows from a space ship but also contains references to ancient Mayan culture.

A timely exhibit, with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, is “Coconauts in Space, a photographic and video presentation by AD¡L, who uses “discovered footage” — or in this case, perhaps, concealed? — with the hypothesis that someone might have gotten there first, a commentary and critique of the effects colonialism in his native Puerto Rico.

Did you ever see a science documentary where researchers take a narrow core from an old tree or Antarctic glacier ice to study what happened in that area over decades or even centuries?

In the “Time Travel” section of the exhibit, Clarissa Tossin’s “Future Fossil” expresses concerns for the footprint man is leaving on the environment, with a core sample of plastic waste, scrap metal, earth, concrete, sand, rocks, leaves, organic material and electronic waste that future scientists could find without serious changes to our habits in the present.

‘Mundos Altrnos’
When: Wed.-Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Through Aug. 18
Where: Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Entry: $8 age 12 and up, $4 seniors.
(718) 592-9700

Welcome to the discussion.