After our perilous maiden voyage to Mercury, SPACE PROGRAM’s co-pilot/curator Mary Helena Clark cordially invites you to crash-land your spacecraft onto the terrestrial planet Venus, that inhospitable rock with its reflective clouds of sulfuric acid, that glowing orb your great-great-great-great-great-grandparents so wisely named after the Roman goddess of Love and Beauty. Today’s Venus finds its mirror in that 90s rave-haunt-cum-cinema-space called Thalia Hall, a space transformed again and again through eight moving images of longing and musical transcendence: a veritable cinema mixtape featuring tracks by Cyndi Lauper, The Shangri-las, Hoagy Lands, The Kinks, Jonathan Halper, Glass Crash and the dance beats of England’s finest 90s club music.
Lovers Rock! This party is for you and you and you and, as such, Alex Hubbard is there to welcome you at the door of your new Cinepolis. You’ll find Michael Robinson just inside, asking Venus the self-same question All Through the Night: “What is beauty?” Chick Strand’s Elasticity and Laida Lertxundi’s My Tears Are Dry shout answers from the living room with meditations on longing, euphoria and ecstasy. Later on, Lertxundi escapes outside for some fresh air, wanders into the volcanic horizon and stakes claim to a desert outpost in Footnotes to the House of Love—after all, there’s no rainfall on Venus. Back inside, we share a Puce Moment or two with Kenneth Anger—all glitter and glamour and greyhound, an early indicator of just how British club-and-rave this party is going to get (courtesy of Mark Leckey’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore). The music rises, you dance and dance and get caught up in that Crystal Lite high of Shana Moulton’s Whispering Pines 8 until finally the dense carbon dioxide atmosphere makes your head throb and you run into a corner to empty yourself out entirely. Through bleary-eyes you think to yourself, “The surface of Venus sort of looks like Hell” and as you vomit brightness underneath so many toxic clouds, you realize that this planet really is a metaphor for love as well.