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Republic of the Moon

19/01/2014 in Art, Events, Science

Leonid Tishkov, Private Moon

Leonid Tishkov, Private Moon

Republic of the Moon opened at the Bargehouse early in January. The exhibition brought together a collective of artists by the same name to reengage artistically with the subject of humanities lunar ambitions. Their mission is laid bare in an elaborate manifesto containing “a mixture of artists’ statements about what they’d do if they got to the moon, some poems, a scientific paper, a couple of rants”.

It is true that the moon has waned in our collective consciousness. Perhaps when Neil Armstrong set foot on Earth’s nearest neighbour in 1959 our view of it as an object of romance and mythology was shattered. Maybe the subsequent decades of failure to capitalise on that achievement killed our hopes of a brave new world of space colonisation. Perhaps, living as we do in cities, the moon is simply less present, hidden by buildings and light pollution, the very hallmarks of our terrestrial malaise.

The show itself is housed in a patchily refurbished warehouse and described as a lunar embassy on earth. It exhibits a variety of attempts to explore our relationship with the moon and its future. Leonid Tiskov’s Private Moon shows a photographic series that explores one man’s very personal relationship with the moon. Using a luminescent replica of a crescent moon, the images powerfully reclaim half-remembered romantic associations in a deeply intimate way. Tishkov moon have travelled the world for almost ten years creating a stunning narrative of the moon and her admirer in a landscape.

Probably the most talked about artist in the show is Agnes Meyer-Brandis, who’s poetic-scientific investigations balance precariously between absurdist humour and whimsical speculation. Inspired by a story written by English bishop Francis Godwin in the 1630s, she documents her attempt to structure a training programme for a flock of geese preparing them for a flight to the moon. The result is frankly adorable, particularly her filmed attempts to teach her adoptive goslings the fundamentals of rocket science. The film is an engrossing watch and a deserving winner of the Ars Electronica award of distinction winner 2012. Meyer-Brandis’s work is supplemented by a collection of installations, including a proposed design for a moon goose colony and control room.

Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Moon Goose Analogue, still

Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Moon Goose Analogue, still

What can a collection of artists tell us about and essentially technological endeavour? The exhibition is a blazing example of art/science collaboration and its potential value. The artists involved all seek to provide an emotive and spiritual response the subject. Through this exercise they also provide visions for the future that centre on the human and social aspects of moon colonisation the is divorced from the dry practically of space travel. The show’s curator emphasised the point in an interview with TimeOut, saying “This isn’t a science communication show. Artists come at things from a different angle. Their job is not to explain science but to reflect on it”.

Republic of the Moon is at the Bargehouse until 2nd Feb, 11am-6pm daily. Free admission.