Maurizio Cannavacciuolo: A Lecture on Martian History

Exhibition Website

Jun 2016 - Jan 2017

Maurizio Cannavacciuolo is the eighth Artist-in-Residence to create a temporary site-specific work for the Museum’s façade. A native of Naples, he has lived and traveled extensively in Asia, especially India and Thailand. His art explores the many ways cultural influences overlap and diverge in contemporary society.

Isabella Stewart Gardner’s passion for the sumptuous look and feel of textiles can be felt throughout the Museum. She surrounded works of art with fabrics of different colors and patterns, creating particular moods for each installation. Maurizio Cannavacciuolo, too, treats patterns and color in a very eclectic fashion. Designs inspired by Edo textiles from Japan and Cuban tiles from Old Havana in this Façade are all part of the artist’s multicultural vision. The elaborately overlapping drawings and patterns relate a science fiction narrative, drawing on cultural trivia, emotion, and aesthetics, to deliver a witty and provocative message about life, culture and consumption in the 21st century.

In this installation the colonization of Earth by Martians is being told generations later by a many-armed teacher, the product of human-Martian interbreeding. In the early years of the invasion, when the Martians enter the empty human houses, they discover flickering television sets. They are fascinated by the hypnotic, repetitive images, white noise and static emitted by the blank screens. The Television becomes a Martian cult object. Five vignettes tell a part of the story including a scene set in a fictional performance hall at the Gardner Museum.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

  • Installation
  • International
  • Contemporary
  • Maurizio Cannavacciuolo

Exhibition Venues & Dates