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The scale of current global insecurity and fear may feel unprecedented, but Alien Nation is a timely reminder that today’s anxieties are in fact a frighteningly recurrent theme. In the Cold War narratives of the 1950s and ’60s that were played out in science fiction films, fears surrounding a communist invasion and atomic catastrophe were displaced onto an alien, often racialised ‘other’.

In recent years artists from around the world have again taken up elements of science fiction and the figure of the alien to explore the fear of difference and the perceived threat of the outsider.

Featuring the work of twelve contemporary artists alongside original film posters, film stills and archival photographs from the Cold War era, this lavishly illustrated book offers another chapter in this all too real fiction. It includes interviews with the artists, an in-depth exploration of the connections between science fiction, political and media narratives and contemporary art, as well as a major essay on the BBC television series Quatermass. It also includes a glossary of extra-terrestrial beings and an annotated tour through sci-fi films evoking race as an alien spectre.

Texts: Claire Fitzsimmons, Jens Hoffmann, David Alan Mellor, Cylena Simonds, Greg Tate, Gilane Tawadros/John Gill

Artists: Laylah Ali, Hamad Butt, Edgar Cleijne, Ellen Gallagher, David Huffman, Hew Locke, Marepe, Henna Nadeem, Kori Newkirk, Yinka Shonibare, Eric Wesley, Mario Ybarra Jr.

Book design: APFEL (A Practice for Everyday Life)



ISBN: 1-899846-47-6 / 978-1-899846-47-4
120pp, hardback, 272 x 192mm, 92 illustrations
inIVA, ICA & Hatje Cantz Verlag