In connection with the exhibition Science Fiction(s) – If There Were a Tomorrow, Weltmuseum Wien presents the work SpaceMosque by Pakistani-American artist Saks Afridi in the Theseus Temple in the Volksgarten. As a spaceship minaret, SpaceMosque floats in the midst of the Theseus Temple and recounts the following narrative:
In the recent past, just before the Internet age, a spaceship appeared above the Earth that fulfilled one prayer per day for each person. The ship appeared in countless forms, depending on peopleʹs expectations and inclinations: as a church, temple, synagogue, mosque, or ray of light.
To the first people who saw it, the ship appeared as a mosque-like structure, which is why the media named it ‘space mosque’. The fulfilled prayers competed with each other and upset the world so much that the spaceship exploded.
Using these remaining artefacts, Saks Afridi has reconstructed events of which we now have no memory. An LED tape announces, ‘Your prayers have been received and will be answered’. Prints show instruments that converted prayers into algorithms. The centrepiece of Afridi’s installation is a spaceship minaret, created as a 3D print in collaboration with the Vienna-based company Object Fabrication GmbH.
Behind the fusion of Islamic art and spaceship design lies the question of where we direct our desires. In the clash between generosity and greed, in which prayers become a global currency, we are confronted by the question of whether the world really would be better if our prayers were fulfilled? Would morality or selfishness prevail?
Saks Afridi was born in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 1975. He lives and works as an artist and designer in New York. Afridi makes art objects in various media, drawing inspiration from Sufi poetry, Afrofuturism, South Asian folklore, Islamic mythology, science fiction, architecture, and calligraphy. Afridi describes his work, in which he merges storytelling with Islamic mysticism, as "sci-fi Sufism".
Since 2017, Afridi has been working on the SpaceMosque project, which is now on view in Europe for the first time after stops in the United States and in Qatar.
SpaceMosque is curated by Tobias Mörike and presented in connection with the exhibition Science Fiction(s) – If There Were a Tomorrow at the Weltmuseum Wien and can be seen in the Volksgarten at the Theseus Temple from 20 April to 8 October, 2023. Admission is free.