Currently in orbit on the International Space Station
The Moon Galleryis an international, collaborative art installation housing the seeds of a future, shared interplanetary culture. In collaboration with Nanoracks, powered by Voyager Space, the test payload of 64 artifacts, each no bigger than one cubic centimeter, was launched aboard the NG-17 Cygnus resupply mission on February 19, 2022. The gallery is represented by artists from Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and Africa.
We met with the project team and asked them a few questions:
Moon Gallery Objectives:
Bridging innovation, science and art, crossover with space research, developing a space art experiment;
A collective reflection on artistic heritage, analysis – how to design for space (1/6th gravity, extreme environment);
Promoting artistic quality
Offering artists follow up opportunities involving space science expertise;
Reinforcing international position of artistic practice:
"International cooperation towards a world strategy for the exploration and utilization of the Moon – our natural satellite" (International Lunar Workshop, Beatenberg (CH), June 1994).
Howdid the idea of creating a gallery on the moon come about?
As guest visitors of the European Space Agency in 2018 together with fellow artists and designers we got inspired by the new age of space exploration. We could see the windows of opportunities opening for private individuals like us to contribute to the course of space exploration and extend our cultural dialogue to space. Humanity has had access to space in some form for little over 60 years. We take this for granted now. We use GPS, communication and weather satellites, we send vast, powerful telescopes to space. But when we talk about humans going to space, it's more complicated. It is reserved for an elite few. We need to start having a conversation in society about what access to space means to humanity. Moon Gallery aims to unlock this kind of thinking. If we can democratize art in space on a global scale, that at least becomes a first step in the direction of democratizing access to space.
The idea was picked up by several people, tell us about your team?
One of the aspects of our project which we are the most proud of, is our international team and artists. With every continent represented, our gallery is a literal beacon of international cooperation.
Our core executive team consists of Elizaveta Glukhova (project leader, graphic designer, visual storyteller and art curator), Anna Sitnikova (project leader, interior architect and art curator) and Lejla Sarcevic (investigative researcher, journalist and communications professional).
What projects linking art and space are inspiring you?
Inner Telescope by Eduardo Kac. This artwork is carefully designed and developed to be realized on board of the International Space Station by a French Astronaut - Thomas Pesquet. It is a poetic observation instrument to reflect on one's place in the universe. I'm inspired by the simplicity and the complexity of the work. On one hand it is a 5 minute sculpture from 2 pieces of ordinary paper. On the other hand the story behind is so sophisticated and appealing that it brought many agencies and mission advocates together to make it come true. On Saturday, February 18th, 2017 a unique collaboration between the artist and the astronaut manifested itself in the form of a silent poem and a weightless sculpture... It challenges our perception of art, of artists, of how we experience art.
What are your future plans after the exploration of the Moon?
The Moon is a highly symbolic destination for us. Since the dawn of mankind, the Moon has been the only stellar object that we can see in detail with the naked eye offering a collective moment of reflection upon our place in the universe. It is often referred to as the 8th continent of the Earth, becoming a primary target for scientific exploration, discovery, colonization and habitation of outer space. With its exploration gaining speed we see the urgency to make this process universal and open source, guided by curiosity and passion rather than power and capital.
On the other hand, Moon Gallery is a lot about our collective realities on Earth. After the lunar mission we will continue both: our Earth & Space program. One possible next step is delving deeper into collaborative projects developing artistic and cultural experiments within the frameworks of future space missions. For example, we want to create possibilities for in situ resource utilization for artistic development on the Moon and Mars.
How can I get into your Lunar Gallery?
Moon Gallery is developed through a series of open calls. We invite artists from all over the world to submit ideas worth sending to the Moon and to become not only a part of the gallery but also a part of our community. Generally, we accept pieces in the early conceptual stage of development. Applicants, of course, are welcome to share sketches and visual references with us. But the selection is primarily made based on the quality of ideas rather than on our aesthetic preferences. We are looking for authentic ideas that are poetic, inspiring, inclusive and clever and that people from all over the world can relate to. For us, it is important that an idea reflects the personality of the author, rather than speaking to something generic or abstract. The gallery grows and changes with every new member of our community and every new submission shapes it in a unique way.
How is work selected?
At the moment we're selecting works with our internal team based on the aforementioned criteria. We call it a pre-selection. The works become a part of our events, exhibitions and precursor missions. For each particular event or mission there can be additional selection criteria such as particular technical, safety requirements or a special festival theme. This leads to a number of curated collections, which are often co-developed with an external event or mission partner.
For the ultimate Moon mission selection we will form a jury representing a variety of disciplines, for example: art history, ethics, material science.
Art is becoming more and more digital, how does this affect you?
Digitalization of art is undeniably fascinating and its effect on the legacy of the Moon Gallery will be interesting to watch unfold. As an off-Earth gallery, only a few lucky people get a first hand experience of it. Even though we bring our collection to showcase all around the world, you can't simply visit it, you would have to be at the right place at the right time. This is why digital representation and documentation are in the DNA of our gallery. We experiment and explore its digital nature. For example, currently the Moon Gallery collection is installed onboard of the International Space Station, serving as moving targets for Nanoracks camera observations and performance tests. The gallery offers a diverse range of materials and behaviors for the camera to detect, and in return, the artists get a chance to learn about the performance of their artworks in microgravity. We don't have physical access to the gallery until its December return from the ISS but we get to experience weekly videologs of the sculptures floating in space.
Moon Gallery Team
Curator and Project Manager Secretary of the Moon Gallery Foundation
Curator and Project Manager Deputy-Chairperson of the Moon Gallery Foundation
Communications Manager of the Moon Gallery Foundation