GEM Z: The Farthest from Earth We’ve Ever Been, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam 30,October 2021

GEM Z is an exhibition cast as the speculative crash-landing site of an alien pod. After millennia of humankind looking out into space and beaming messages into the unknown, what if it turned out that someone was gazing back? By employing collective sci-fi imagination, the artists of Generation Z turn the gaze back onto us: this time around, we are not the observer, but the observed.

This glaring eye, in all its strata, seems to behold a protective power. But from what evil is this eye trying to protect us? Within our hyper-surveillance, tech-infused society, it is hard to imagine anything to be left unseen, undocumented, unrecorded. In fact, it is almost impossible to imagine anything incalculable these days – we behold all the tools to prevent any erratic outcome. Unless it is, of course, something extra-physical or untouchable. Invisible, even, perhaps. We can’t help but wonder what is reflected in this glossy eye; what malevolence we are unable to see as of yet. Perhaps we should cherish this precious ocular talisman, for it may be of use for us in the future or, even, in the present.

Joanette van der Veer