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The Moon

From Inner Worlds to Outer Space

13.9.2018 - 20.1.2019

From painting to virtual reality, superstition to science, myths to missions, fantasies to space colonies, join Louisiana on a trip to the Moon—into space and into ourselves.

This large-scale exhibition at Louisiana highlights the role, the importance and the fascinating power of the Moon. The exhibition presents more than 200 works and objects—and show how the round white disc is reflected in our art and cultural history. From Galileo's moon map to Norman Foster's plans for 3D-printed moon bases.

The exhibition mixes art, film, music, literature, architecture, cultural history, design and natural science into a vibrant and diverse portrait of our closest neighbor in the sky. We encounter the Moon as a fundamental symbol and as a goal of romantic and artistic longings, scientific inquiry, existential issues—and the urge for political expansion.

With this exhibition, Louisiana commemorates the imminent 50th anniversary of man's first steps on the Moon and also calls attention to a strong and renewed interest in the Moon both in art and as a springboard for a new Space Race with all its strategic and economic implications.

The exhibition is supported by Aage & Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond and is organized by Louisiana in collaboration with Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo.

From Moon-madness to Space Colonization

The exhibition will be organized around six themes which together paint a multifaceted portrait of the Moon and its significance in modern culture. Read about all the themes — Moonlight, Selenography, Myths and Moon-madness, The Aesthetics of the Space Age, The Colonization of Space and Deep Time — below.

The distinctive light of the Moon has fascinated visual artists for centuries, and is a fundamental motif in the landscape painting and poetry of Romanticism. For painters like C.D. Friedrich, Joseph Wright of Derby, J.C. Dahl and C.W. Eckersberg, the frailty of human life is contrasted with the Moon’s eternal light. In contemporary art too, moonlight is thematized by artists like Katie Paterson and Darren Almond as an experience of nature that is disappearing with the increasing contamination from artificial light. 

The scientific description of the Moon’s surface – called after the Greek moon goddess Selene – arose at the beginning of the seventeenth century when the Italian Galileo Galilei studied the moon through a telescope and published his discoveries. One room in the exhibition tells the story of the mapping of the Moonwith a selection of items that ranges from Galileo’s original watercolours over the beautiful handmade maps of the 1700s to the very newest minutely detailed images of the Moon’s surface published by NASA.

The Moon is the object of scientific study, but it is also above all the domain of the imagination. This thematic section explores the moon of myth in a dialogue of moon-gods, folklore, urban myths and the surrealistic art of among others Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Joseph Cornell and Remedios Varo. Younger artists too, such as Marie Kølbæk Iversen and Camille Henrot, investigate the role of the Moon as a point of intersection between inner and outer space. 

In the years around the first manned moon landing in 1969 the race for the Moon dominated the cultural agenda as its philosophical implications exercised the great artists of the period – with equal proportions of optimism about progress and ideological critique. Among other things we show Robert Rauschenberg’s works from his time at NASA, the Austrian Kiki Kogelnik’s paintings of women floating in outer space, and the Frenchman Yves Klein’s “planetary reliefs”.

Who owns the Moon? Although a UN treaty defines outer space as the common property of mankind, today were are seeing the contours of a new space age. The Moon is no longer just a goal in itself, but a launching platform for missions farther out into the universe, and nations and private corporations are both exploring the possibility of moonbases and mining activities in outer space. In this section we look at the colonization of space through among other things Foster+Partners’ moonbase for ESA, Neri Oxman’s experimental space suits and the artist Trevor Paglen’s photographs of the secret spy satellites that hide among the stars of the night sky. 

The ecological crisis on Earth has led researchers to the conclusion that we are now in a new geological age, “the Anthropocene”, in which humans influence the Earth on a planetary scale. How can art capture the time of the planet, the deep time that transcends human comprehension? In this section we show among other things artist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs, which track the orbit of the Moon as a band of light across the night sky, and Alicja Kwade’s abstract sculptures, which translate motifs such as gravity fields and planetary orbits into stone and steel.

The exhibition includes several new artworks created especially for this exhibition. Among other thing the American avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson will create a new virtual reality installation specifically for the Louisiana exhibition.