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London’s Barbican Gallery announces “Into the Unknown”, summer SF exhibition and events

Barbican Gallery - Into the Unknown Promotional Art

(with thanks to Richard Sheaf): London’s Barbican Gallery has revealed details of its upcoming “Into the Unknown” exhibition, which opens in June 2017, and includes comics in in its content.

One of the most celebrated fields in popular culture, science fiction has seen the creation of some of the most iconic and experimental works in film, literature and art, ever to be produced.

Over the years, scientific and technological discoveries have continued to propel our imagination into new realms; exploring untouched lands, lost worlds, cosmic possibilities and virtual universes. Into the Unknown is brought to the Barbican in partnership with Penguin Classics (who have re-published various well-known SF titles such as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds in new editions, alongside their modern SF, which includes numerous Doctor Who books) and New Scientist.

The exhibition will narrate science fiction’s journey through four key chapters: Extraordinary Voyages, Space Odysseys, Brave New Worlds and Final Frontiers; from the 19th century cabinet of curiosities to the vast vistas of space, through future cities and into the inner landscapes of human perception.

This unprecedented show takes place all over the Centre, encompassing contemporary art, film, literature, music, comic books, film props, concept art, design commissions and video games to present a new, global perspective on science fiction.

Alongside a dedicated exhibition catalogue, a series of talks and events will accompany the show, including open-air screenings at the Barbican Sculpture Court.

The exhibition will encompass the following themes:

Design – Look out for designs, magazines and postcards depicting modernist utopian cities of the future, on loan from the Moscow Design Museum. Plus installations from the visual effects design studios responsible for Ex Machina and The Martian.

Film – Props, models, spacesuits and concept art are on display – some for the very first time in the UK – from blockbusters including Alien, Star Wars, District 9, Sunshine, Star Trek, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Interstellar and more.

Literature – Delve into the stories of almost 200 books from around the world including original manuscripts, typescripts and first editions of some of the most influential literature of all time – from Jules Verne to Margaret Atwood.

Short Film – Featuring short films ranging from Frances Bodomo’s Afronauts, inspired by a true story of the Zambia space programme.

In 1964, still leaving the dream of their recently gained independence, Zambia started a space program that would put the first African on the moon catching up the United States and the Soviet Union in the space race.

Only a few optimists supported the project by Edward Makuka, the school teacher in charge of presenting the ambitious program and getting its necessary funding. But the financial aid never came, as the United Nations declined their support, and one of the astronauts , a 16 year old girl, got pregnant and had to quit. That is how the heroic initiative turned into an exotic episode of the african history, surrounded by wars, violence, droughts and hunger.

It’s a dream of a project that has also captured the imagination of Spanish photojournalist Cristina De Middel. Copies of the first printing of her book The Afronauts, which she self-published in 2012 with a print-run of only 1000 copies, are now so sought after that copies will exchange hands for £1000. A more affordable second edition was published by AMC Books last year, but quickly sold out.

“As a photojournalist I have always been attracted by the eccentric lines of story-telling avoiding the same old subjects told in the same old ways,” she says. “Now, with my personal projects, I respect the basis of the truth but allow myself to break the rules of veracity trying to push the audience into analysing the patterns of the stories we consume as real.

Afronauts is based on the documentation of an impossible dream that only lives in the pictures. I start from a real fact that took place 50 years ago and rebuild the documents adapting them to my personal imagery.” (Click to view the complete set of images of her book – or read more on her official site)

Also to be shown is Wanuri Kahiu’s amazing-looking Pumzi, following one scientist’s quest to find life beyond the confines of her repressive subterranean Nairobi community.

Comics – Experts in the field have been involved in choosing a selection of over 100 rare space and superhero comics from across the globe to be displayed as part of the exhibition.

Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction runs from 3rd June – 1st September 2017 at the Barbican Gallery. Admission is free to members. More information on Into the Unknown online here

Opening Times

Saturday – Wednesday: 10.00am – 8.00pm (last entry 6.30pm) | Thursday – Friday: 10.00am – 10.00pm (last entry 8.30pm) | Bank Holidays: 12 noon – 8.00pm (Last entry 6.30pm)

Ticket Prices for non-members | Information here on Barbican membership

Standard: £14.50 | Concessions: £12.00 | Students/14-17: £12.00 | Young Barbican: £10.00 | Under 14s: £5* | Art Fund Members: £12.00
*Under 5s: Free. £1.50 booking fee per online transaction, £2.50 by phone. No fee when tickets are booked in person

About John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative" who is currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 25 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary, including DEATH'S HEAD II and WARHEADS. At Marvel he wrote strips for THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS, THUNDERCATS, DOCTOR WHO and co-created SHADOW RIDERS with Brian Williamson and Ross Dearsley. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. He has written comics for Marvel UK, Judge Dredd Megazine, Lucky Bag Comic, CGL (an Italian publisher), STRIP Magazine and ROK Comics; and edited some of Titan's British comics collections including Dan Dare and Charley's War. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.
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