Love Before the Colonization of Mars

William Villalongo (b. 1975) Love Before the Colonization of Mars, 2004 Acrylic and paper collage on velvet 77 1/4 × 96 1/4 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum purchase made possible by a gift from Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn 2004.13.6

Love Before the Colonization of Mars presents a violent fictional history of Mars. In the background, silhouetted flying saucers and fighter jets engage in combat. The “love” depicted is really a rampant lust erupting amid explosions and a decapitated Martian corpse. Though seen through the lens of science fiction and quite fantastical, Villalongo’s imagined scene of colonial violence on faraway Mars brings to mind the very real histories and violence of colonization on Earth.