The red mirror

The CCCB opens an exhibition that explores our link with Mars from antiquity to a future colonization

2 min
Astronomer Percival Lowell looking through his telescope

In the last two weeks three spacecraft have arrived on Mars: one from China, one from the United Arab Emirates and one from the United States. Mars is therefore on the media agenda. All this coincides by chance with the inauguration next Thursday, February 25, of the exhibition Mart. El mirall vermell ('Mars. The red mirror') at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB). "In fact, we've been working on this exhibition for two and a half years", explains Juan Insúa, the curator of the show. "It was scheduled to open in November, but the pandemic has delayed everything", he says, which has made the exhibition coincide with the Martian news. But Mart. The Mirall Vermell goes far beyond this chance opportunity. The sciences and the humanities need each other more and more", Insúa argues, "so this exhibition, like all the projects I do, is born from a third culture perspective".

The exhibition is structured in three areas. The first, "Mars in the Ancient Cosmos", explores humanity's relationship with the Red Planet, from the first Mesopotamian cosmogonies to the Renaissance. This relationship is illustrated, among other objects, with bronze figures from 2,600 years ago or with an incunabulum from the Almagest by the Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemy. The second area, "Science and Fiction of the Red Planet", is dedicated to how Mars has spurred the imagination of all kinds of creators, from writers such as H.G. Wells, Kim Stanley Robinson or Ray Bradbury, to engineers such as Nicola Tesla, Guglielmo Marconi or Thomas Edison. Precisely, a film produced by Edison which is considered the first American science-fiction film, Trip to Mars, can be seen in this area, along with a collection of pulp magazines by artist Norman Saunders and the stamps that inspired Tim Burton's Martians in the film Mars attacks!

The last area of the exhibition, "Mars in the Anthropocene", proposes a reflection on the possibility of inhabiting the neighbouring planet. Some voices argue that fleeing Earth is the only solution for a humanity that is pushing the climate crisis beyond controllable limits. Other voices propose that the establishment of colonies on Mars, which would have to apply radical criteria of sustainability, could serve as an inspiration to adopt patterns of behaviour that are kinder to the terrestrial environment. It is from this inspiration that the idea of Mars as a mirror that gives the exhibition its title makes perfect sense.

You can find all the activities and information on the website and on the CCCB's social networks.