As the players in the 21st century race for the Moon line upthe USA, China, India and Russia jostling with private corporations interested in exploiting the Moon's resourcesa group of artists are declaring a Republic of the Moon: a 'micronation' for alternative visions of lunar life. Republic of the Moon challenges utilitarian plans for lunar mines and military bases with artists' imaginings and interventions. Combining beguiling fantasies, personal encounters, and playful appropriations of space habitats and scientific technologies, it reclaims the Moon for artists, idealists and dreamers. The last Moon race was driven by the political impulses of the Cold War, but shaped by extraordinary visions of space created by writers, film-makers, and artists, from Jules Verne, Lucien Rudaux, and Vasily Levshin, to HG Wells, Stanislav Lem and Stanley Kubrick. Can artists' quixotic visions reconcile our romantic notions of the Moon with its colonised future, and help us to reimagine our relationship with our natural satellite in the new space age?
Curated by The Arts Catalyst and FACT
, Republic of the Moon includes major new commissions by Agnes Meyer-Brandis and WE COLONISED THE MOON, and works by Leonid Tishkov, Andy Gracie, Liliane Lijn and Sharon Houkema.
Agnes Meyer Brandis' poetic-scientific investigations weave fact, imagination, storytelling and myth, past, present and future. In The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility the artist develops a narrative based on The Man in the Moone, written by Francis Godwin in 1608, in which the protagonist flies to the Moon in a chariot towed by 'moon geese'. Meyer-Brandis has actualised this concept by raising eleven moon geese from birth at Pollinaria in Italy, imprinting them on herself as goose-mother, training them to fly and taking them on expeditions. The artist will build a remote Moon analogue habitat for the geese, which will be operated from a control room within the gallery.*
Luring us onto the surface of the Moon, WE COLONISED THE MOON (Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser) create an immersive audience experience, Enter At Own Risk. For this new commission, the artists are synthesising the smell of the Moon and developing an experimental performance piece, drawing on the entertainment iconography of early astronaut training.
Entwining artistic metaphor and scientific rigour, Andy Gracie's astrobiology experiment Drosophila Titanus attempts to select and breed a new organism that might survive on Titan, a moon of Saturn.
Liliane Lijn's moonmeme presents a symbolic union of opposites and an homage to the feminine principal of transformation and renewal. Her concept to project the word 'SHE' onto the surface of the moon gradually transforms as the Moon moves through its phases.
Transforming the everyday into the mesmerisingly beautiful, Sharon Houkema's M3created with characteristic simplicity with an overhead projector and a bucket of waterconjures a moon so tantalisingly close you can almost hold it.
By contrast, Leonid Tishkov's Private Moon brings the Moon down to us. Tishkov tells the story of a man who met the Moon and stayed with her for the rest of his life.