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The Red Mirror

This project looks at Mars from different approaches and disciplines. The story it unfolds is polysemic and open, just like our current knowledge of the ultimate nature of the universe in which we live.

The intense demystification brought about by extraordinary scientific advances in knowledge about the Red Planet is no impediment to the existence of an experimental mythology that fuels and renews enigma and wonder as permanent sources in our search for more complex, profound meaning.

Travel, war, the return home, the ancestral fear of the other and others, the Promethean drive, Titanic challenges, fear and terror as instruments of power, fictions that anticipate reality, realities imbued with fiction, the existence of alien life, extreme survival, environmental resource management, the possibility or impossibility of a planet B, the future of humanity in the era of climate emergency, our true place in a universe that is infinite in every direction.

Viewed in this way, Mars becomes a mirror to continue exploring our condition and our future as a species in the 21st century.

The exhibition project serves to draw together and inspire all of these themes to form a narrative in which science, art and literature cross and interact in a future that will bring us to decisive junctions for the survival of humankind on Earth.

Curators: Juan Insua

Sections of the exhibition


Mars in the Ancient Cosmos

Mars Balearicus. 400 b.C. Bronze. © Museu de Mallorca

Ares, in Greek mythology (Mars in Roman), is one of the divine powers that have a monopoly on war-related affairs. This is a constant in ancient traditions and cosmogonies, and a first archetypal factor associated with male power, the virtues of the warrior and the fury of combat. It incarnates a necessary force to survive and overcome, but also the excessiveness of a lethal energy if not subject to a higher order equipped with measure and reason. It is significant that his entourage should include, among others, his sons Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Terror), not forgetting his confrontation with Athena (goddess of war) and his affair with Aphrodite (or Venus), goddess of love. Mars, then, as a symbol of violent masculinity running through the history of humankind up until the present day. And Mars, too, interpreted according to the place he occupies in the mental systems that shaped the order of things until the Renaissance.


Science and Fiction of the Red Planet

Amazing Stories, vol. 1. n. 9. December 1926. Gernsback Publications. Cover illustrated by Frank R. Paul (1884-1963)

The secularization of consciousness that has taken place since the Copernican revolution, driven by the development of science and technology in recent centuries, has allowed the gradual knowledge of Mars as the fourth planet in the solar system and, in turn, generated a unorthodox literature that corresponds to a large extent with the various phase of science-fiction, from HG Wells to the works of Ray Bradbury and Kim Stanley Robinson, to mention the best-known examples. This is a thought-provoking paradox: extraordinary scientific advances in knowledge of the Red Planet are intertwined with a broad-based cultural production in which Mars occupies a prominent place and becomes a prime icon of pop imaginary. This project highlights the communications between science and fiction, science and literature, science and popular culture, and explores the influences and contagions between scientists, engineers, writers and artists obsessed with and inspired by Mars since the late 19th century, suggesting an experimental mythology that forms the exhibition discourse.


Mars in the Anthropocene

LATAM-III analog mission carried out at the facilities of the Mars Desert Research Station, in Utah (USA), in May 2019. © Mariona Badenes Agustí

The scientific community agrees on the ecological catastrophe we are witnessing due to global warming, despite the best efforts of climate change sceptics. We are living at a time of climate emergency that affects all living species and compromises the future of new generations. The diagnosis is evident, but the solutions are still uncertain. Faced with the complexity of the situation, there are voices that propose spatial colonisation as an inevitable option, and others calling for urgent solutions to save our only possible home for many years: planet Earth. And this is where Mars, as a probable (or impossible) planet B, reflects the transcendence of our global ecological crisis. Mars as a mirror to review the stages (and strata) of our awareness, and the deep breach that exists between knowing and doing. Mars as a metaphor of our ancestral patriarchal trends, Titanism and Prometheanism, Mars to continue seeking answers about the origin of life (terrestrial and extra-terrestrial), but also to become aware of a world without us.

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