“Futures of Eastern Europe” is a two-day conference that coincides with the opening of “Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module,” organized by tranzit for the New Museum. The conference will consider key issues in contemporary art from Central and Eastern Europe, and explore the widespread ongoing obsession with science fiction.
The second day, Sunday January 26, will feature an Eastern European sci-fi movie marathon. See below for details of films that will be screened.
Please note: the 12 p.m. screening of Wolfgang Liebeneiner’s 1 April 2000 will be in German only. The screenings from 2–6 p.m. will have English subtitles.
12 PM: Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1 April 2000, 1952. Film, 105 min (Austria)
This 1952 satire, set in the year 2000, imagines a world presided over by the World Global Union, a governing body formed in the aftermath of World War II. When a newly elected president declares Austria’s independence from the World Global Union, the Union President strikes back, arriving in a flying saucer and brandishing death-ray guns to put an end to the insurrection. In a Kafkaesque turn, Austria is put on trial and must prove its historic contributions to society.
2 PM: Yakov Protazanov, Aelita, 1924. Film, 113 min (Soviet Union)
This influential film, based on Alexei Tolstoy’s novella of the same name, tells of an alleged murderer who flees prosecution on Earth by rocketing to Mars, bringing with him a motley crew of attendants. On Mars, the humans foment a social revolution among the Martians, challenging the seductive Queen Aelita’s autocracy. The dazzling Constructivist set and costumes, designed by Aleksandra Ekster and Isaak Rabinovich, would bear deep influence on the subsequent generation of filmmakers, notably Fritz Lang.
4 PM: Jindřich Polák, Ikarie XB1, 1963. Film, 86 min (Czechoslovakia)
A classic science-fiction film from the Eastern Bloc, Ikarie XB1 traces the journey of astronauts aboard the eponymous starship on a mission to inspect a mysterious, white planet. Over the course of the trip, computer malfunctions and mounting tensions among the crew push the astronauts to their psychological breaking points.