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Loving the Alien

2 Feb - 28 Apr
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'shell', Mari Katayama. 2016. ©Mari Katayama
'shell', Mari Katayama. 2016. ©Mari Katayama
Michael Brzezinski
Michael Brzezinski
Ovartaci, gouache on paper, 36,5 x 43,5 cm
Ovartaci, gouache on paper, 36,5 x 43,5 cm
'Atmospheres of Breathing', Anne Duk Hee. 2019.
'Atmospheres of Breathing', Anne Duk Hee. 2019.

Loving the Alien is an invitation to reconsider the limits of our bodies and identities, reflect on otherness, and imagine possible metamorphoses through the positions adopted by four artists: Sandra Mujinga, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Mari Katayama and Ovartaci.

Location: Sala B, Sala C

The word ‘alien’ has multiple meanings in English, ranging from extraterrestrial and outsider to unknown and marginal, but all of them allude to diverse aspects of the unfamiliar or different. Inspired by the polysemic nature of the word, this exhibition examines various forms of otherness to challenge the frames that define the boundary between the self and the other, between the familiar and the foreign. Are matters such as race, gender, ecology and identity constructs that divide us socially, separate us from nature and generate hate—even of ourselves— when we don’t conform to convention?

Using different strategies, the four artists create alternative cosmologies that integrate, praise and celebrate otherness. The positions they adopt chime with the philosopher Donna Haraway's exhortation to tell new stories to explain the world and embrace strange, hybrid possibilities that help us to navigate the social, psychological and ecological crises in which we are immersed.

The title of the exhibition pays homage to the self-proclaimed extraterrestrial David Bowie, who played with the complexity of the word ‘alien’ to great effect, reflecting on themes such as liminality, exclusion and counterculture. His song 'Loving the Alien' (1985) has a sociological slant, alluding to persistent conflicts between members of different faiths and creeds.

This exhibition, like Bowie, doesn't invite us to love the alien because, ultimately, it is just like us, but because it forces us to confront what is improbable, unusual or even abject about it; because it is precisely its otherness that opens the gateway to other possible realities.

Anne Duk Hee Jordan

Transience and transformation are central themes in the work of Anne Duk Hee Jordan, whose motorised sculptures and edible landscapes add a new dimension to materiality through movement and performance. Her sculptures are intended to draw the viewer into the present and open a dialogue between natural phenomena, philosophy and art. Her work is like an interactive fantasy that plays with the knowledge and theories about the world and our souls. And in the absence of concrete wisdom, fantasy runs riot. Jordan opens up doors to a universe in which she uses humour and romanticism to create machines that juxtapose robotic consciousness with the organic cycle of decay and life. She asks questions about our agency and encourages us to consider new perspectives, shifting the focus away from humans towards the entire ecology.

Mari Katayama

Born in 1987 in Saitama (Japan), in 2012 Katayama completed a master's degree in the Intermediate Art Department at Tokyo University of the Arts. To create her works and relate to the world and society, she uses a camera, a needle and thread, and—since the physical experience is fundamental for this artist—her own prosthetic legs. She draws on a range of techniques to express her corporality and her relationship with people, both of which are modified by these experiences. Her primary interests are (physical) forms and the lives of those who strive to survive in the midst of the changes to which cities, society and systems subject us. In her works, she photographs herself surrounded by complex compositions of objects and hand-sewn sculptures. Katayama combines her creative activity with the promotion of her High Heel Project, the motto of which is “freedom of choice”. She has also been a model, singer and keynote speaker, using high-heeled shoes custom-made for her protheses. Her main exhibitions include Performer and Participant (Tate Modern, London, 2023), Home Again (Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, 2021) and her participation in the 58th Venice Biennale (2019). She is the author of GIFT, published by United Vagabonds in 2019.


Throughout their life, Ovartaci (pseudonym of Louis Marcussen, 1894–1985) created an extraordinary body of work that is inextricably linked to their own lived experience. Born a man, they transitioned to a woman at the beginning of the 1950s but self-identified as a man again in the latter years of their life. They spent 56 years in the psychiatric wing of Risskov Hospital in Aarhus (Denmark), where they adopted their new name (Ovartaci means ‘chief lunatic’) and created their own universe, turning their hospital room into a vibrant studio in which to explore visions and fantasies of metamorphosis and transformation, two central concepts in their artistic output. With its aesthetic links to expressionism, surrealism and art brut, their work resonates deeply with contemporary preoccupations like power relations, diversity and the creative exploration of otherness. Ovartaci has recently acquired international fame and recognition thanks to exhibitions like Ovartaci & the Art of Madness (Kunsthal Charlottenborg, 2018) and The Milk of Dreams (59th Venice Biennale, 2022).

Sandra Mujinga

Sandra Mujinga (1989, Democratic Republic of the Congo) lives and works between Berlin and Oslo. Her recent and upcoming individual exhibitions include Time as a Shield (Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland, 2024), Fleeting Home (Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig, Germany, 2023), Love Language (Croy Nielsen, Vienna, 2023), IBMSWR: I Build My Skin with Rocks (Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, 2022), Closed Space, Open World (Malmö Konsthall, Sweden, 2022), Solo Oslo (Munch Museet, Oslo, 2022), Worldview (Swiss Institute, New York, 2021), Sandra Mujinga (Göteborgs Konstmuseum, Sweden, 2021), Spectral Keepers (The Approach, London, 2021), and Midnight (Vleeshal, Middelburg, Netherlands, 2020). She has taken part, or will do soon, in group exhibitions at the Eighth Yokohama Triennale (Japan, 2024), the Guggenheim Museum (New York, 2023), the MoMA (New York, 2023), the Capc (Bordeaux, France, 2023), the Gothenburg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (Sweden, 2023), the Instituto Svizzero (Rome, 2023), the Schinkel Pavillon (Berlin, 2023), the 59th Venice Biennale (2022), the Moderna Museet (Malmö, Sweden, 2022), the Kunstmuseet i Tønder (Denmark, 2022), the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Lisbon, 2022), the New Museum Triennial (New York, 2021), the ICA (Los Angeles, 2021), the Kunsthal Charlottenborg (Copenhagen, 2021), the Fondazione Re Rebaudengo (Turin, 2021), the Kistefos Museum (Jevnaker, Norway, 2021), the Fondazione Museion (Bolzano, Italy, 2021), the Kunsthal Charlottenborg (2020), and the Kunstverein Hannover (Germany, 2020).

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  • Curator: Laura López Paniagua

    Artists: Sandra Mujinga, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Mari Katayama and Ovartaci

Con la colaboración de Fundación Japón, Madrid

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