Casa Nova Arte e Cultura Contemporânea presents the exhibition “Ulla, Ulla, Ulla, Ulla! Martians, Intergalactics and Humans”, parallel to the 32nd São Paolo Biennial the show is curated by Jane de Almeida. Ulla Ulla is the sound of the Martian ships of H. G. Wells. A hundred years ago the Russian poet Velimir Khlebnikov in his manifesto “The trumpet of Martians” makes a call through “Ulla Ulla” to reflect on art and invention. Later, the Russian intellectual Viktor Shklovsky uses Ulla, Ulla to call for aliens who literally would “alienate” humans. These manifestos are part of futuristic proposals and historical contexts of Soviet socialist utopias at the beginning of the 20th century.
In this exhibition, Ulla Ulla! is a call for works and artists with “alien” inspiration. Through the deafening sound of the ships, the exhibition is constructed as a space to think about the cliché images of science, new utopias, sensorial strangeness and mixed messages that are being transmitted to our planet. “Some artists dare to figuratively decode unknown space beings, other reverse and change scientific images or try to unriddle alien messages sent to Earth. Some presents themselves with an alien form, others elaborate Utopias for the 21st century,” says the curator.
The special guest is the Brazilian Henrique Alvim Corrêa (1876–1910), creator of the Martians who populated the 20th century. He illustrated a special edition of the War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells’s book in 1906, producing beings and machines that impressed Wells himself and influenced the 2006 Steven Spielberg movie. The silver ships and the tripods are drawn with pencil and ink on paperboard, with Martians projected in low eye level in order to expand the scale of grandeur and terror. Most of the original drawings are in private collections and five of them will be shown in the exhibition, in addition to the illustrations and a never shown oil painting from 1900.
David Medalla, the worldwide recognized Filipino artist, presents the works A Stitch in Time around Mars, a special version of his famous A Stitch in Time (1968), and the new piece Cosmic Pandora’s Micro-Box. The Stitch in Time was one of the first of Medalla’s participatory art pieces that involves the audience stitch in their own private space, and at the same time, in a public environment. The second work developed during his stay in São Paulo in 2010 is composed of waste and objects collected by the artist, creating a contemporary Pandora box. São Paulo becomes the “cosmos” of Medalla and create a future for the freedom of the “now-ness.”
The Angolan artist Kiluanji Kia Henda presents the work The bad guys and good guys (2016), consisting of 10 silkscreen prints that builds a narrative of the cold war influence in Africa. The title was appropriated from an episode of the documentary Cold War (CNN, 1999), produced by Ted Turner. The images with alien characters are configured by using contrast of a photographic negative, resignifying the war legends, reinforcing one of the most important Ulla Ulla’s idea: how political practices are disassociated from the ordinary citizen reality, becoming aliens and alienating.
Fernando Duval, Brazilian artist, participant of the 10th Mercosul Biennial, brings the work “Musical Instruments of Wasthavastahunn,” a 2010 series of drawings of musical instruments from the planet Fahadoica, an artistic universe from the Washemin Galaxy. These instruments belong to one of the most important institutions of Wasthiana, the Silence Institute. Duval produces a parallel universe referent to our scientific and our actual institutions.
Another guest is the Swiss artist Olaf Breuning with the works Home 1 and Home 2 (2004, 2007), and the installation Can someone tell us why we are here (2010). Breuning is often considered freak, bizarre or as he likes to be considered, naive. He is an “alien” himself, of the contemporary art and his films defy not only the limits of realistic and fictional narrative but also established concepts of the artwork. His promising announcement of “meeting the natives” is always frustrated by the discomfort of strangeness and defamiliarization.