How do we together shape a future worth living for all? The major annual exhibition Science Fiction(s) – If There Were a Tomorrow in the Weltmuseum Wien presents alternative future scenarios against the background of global crises as tools for critiquing the present, decolonization, and healing. With a focus on Indigenous, Black, and Muslim voices, it draws attention to the perspectives of those who are often excluded from Western narratives about the future. Paintings, installations, films, spaceships, costumes for performances, comics, beadwork, and games by 24 international artists invite visitors to think about the limits of art, pop culture, and activism beyond clichés about the technological colonization of space.
Many of the artists use icons from science fiction to tell their own stories and to reinvent the genre. The exhibition is about empowerment, critiques of “science fiction” as a genre that
continues colonial narratives, and imagining alternatives.
Indigenous artists show that their lives do not belong to the past, and that they are fighting for their future. They defend themselves against land appropriation and the destruction of their
cultural identity. Fictional space travel projects present the journey into the unknown not as a conquest of space, but as a utopian experiment.
“Non-humans” such as algae report on a post-apocalyptic world. With a focus on cosmologies, the exhibition consciously shifts attention to world views that call for responsible action on the part of all and emphasize the connections between people, animals, and other beings.
The curatorial team developed the exhibition around four theses:
- The West has no monopoly on science fiction and alternative speculative stories about the future.
- Science fiction in the West is often a thinly veiled story about colonial conquest.
- Ethnological museums were places for denying the future at the time of their founding.
- If we wish to design a fair future, we must do this together with all beings on this planet.
This year’s exhibition in the Theseus Temple, which opens on April 21, complements Science Fiction(s). At this public location in the Volksgarten in Vienna, the Pakistani-American artist Saks Afridi addresses the following question with his SpaceMosque installation: what would it be like if all our prayers came true?