Vampires in Space, by Pedro Neves Marques, Official Portuguese Representation at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia and curated by João Mourão and Luís Silva, is a narrative installation that transforms, in part, the Gothic architecture of Palazzo Franchetti into an unexpected spaceship, within which the wistful existence, dramas and routines of five passengers unfold during a long, centuries-long journey to a faraway planet.
Through a new film, unpublished poetry and an immersive exhibition design, Pedro Neves Marques resorts to the figure and expectations of what we consider to be a “vampire” to address issues of gender identity, non-nuclear families, queer reproduction, and also the role of intimacy and mental health today. The vampire’s imagined longevity, reinforced here by the physical distance from planet Earth and the notion of humanity, allows for a retrospective exercise that could be called “scientific autofiction”, anchored in Neves Marques’s own non-binary trans experience, as well as a political review of an extensive history of control over bodies and desire. If vampires have always reflected period debates on gender, from the Victorian era to feminist liberation and the AIDS crisis, how do they answer today to advances in biotechnology or the emancipation of queer lives and ecologies?
After all, in space it is always night and, in their immortality, vampires are the perfect beings to deal with the incommensurability of spatial distances.